The true heroes of Israel don’t necessarily look like fighters with weapons and armor. Nadav and Bat-El Schwartz, along with their baby girl Dvash (honey), are true heroes, saving the land of Israel from the predations of the Arab neighbors who want to lay claim to the Biblical heartland that God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Toward that end, three and a half years ago, they established the El Naveh farm, named for Bat-El’s deceased brother. They were soon joined by their daughter, Dvash (honey). They currently have 220 sheep. The purpose of the farm was not just to provide sustenance for them. The farm was intended to protect the land from the predations of the Arab neighbors who want to lay claim to the Biblical heartland that God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“We chose to raise sheep because they do not destroy the land,” Bat-El told Israel365. “Goats eat the roots and destroy the vegetation. By taking them out to pasture in the forest and on the hills, we are guarding the land and creating a Jewish presence.”
This is a policy the Arabs use extensively. Unhindered by the law, the Arabs lay claim to any empty land and then claim to the world that it has been theirs since the beginning of time.
“Even agriculture would be intrusive. The area is ideal for growing grapes but it would transform the area. For the time being, we are watching over the land for all of the nation.”
There is another reason for raising sheep in the region. That area of the Shomron is known as the Valley of Dothan. It is where Joseph went to meet his older brothers as they herded their sheep (Gen.37:17).
As every farmer in Israel knows, raising livestock is particularly difficult due to theft. Sheep and goats are particularly enticing to thieves.
“Since we moved here, from the very first day, the sheep have been accompanied 24-7,” Bat-El said. “Either me or Nadav or volunteers, if any are here, there has never been one moment they have been without someone guarding them. So there have never been any thefts.”
The son of olim (immigrants) from the US, Nadav met Bat-El in Karnei Shomron, a small city in Samaria, where they both grew up. He went off to serve in the IDF intelligence corps and she did national service. They married and set out to make their dream come true; settle the land of Israel.
The regional council asked Bat-El and Nadav to come live on the lonely hilltop because it was Israeli land, strategically located, that was in danger of being usurped by the Arabs. Surrounded by contentious villages, the thousand-acre El Naveh farm lays claim to land connecting the Jewish settlements of Hermesh, Mevo Dotan, Tal Menashe, and Charish.
“If the Arabs succeed in taking over this hilltop, all of these Jewish settlements will be cut off from each other,” Bat-El told Israel365. “We are in the middle and protect the continuity.”
The farm is guarded by the IDF as the Arab neighbors are known to be violent and they are targeted by left-wing extremist anti-Israel groups.
But the threat cannot be ignored. In December 2020, not long after Bat-El and Nadav arrived at the farm, Esther Horgan, a 52-year-old mother of six from Tal Menashe, was murdered by Palestinians in the nearby Shaked (almond) Forest.
The Arabs also hate the land itself and every summer, there have been many attempts to burn the forest and the farm.
“After her murder, the attempts to burn the forest almost every day,” Bat-El said. “We were blessed with many young volunteers so we sent them out just to watch the forest and report when they saw a fire.”
The land is rich in archaeological artifacts.
“The archaeology proves the connection the Jews have to the land but the Arabs are constantly destroying or stealing it because there is no oversight,” Bat-El said. “They can do what they want, which is to erase our history in this land.”
Since they moved to the farm, they have lived in a truck that was not designed for long-term living. Their mission is vitally important to Israel but Bat-El would like to improve their living quarters.
“When the tribes of Reuven and Gad said they wanted to settle on the other side of the Jordan River, Moses admonished them not to shy away from taking part in the battle to conquer the land,” Bat-El said. “We are doing that. But Moses also admonished them to prepare living quarters for their wives and children before building pens for their flocks (Numbers 32). We want to do this; to follow the instructions of Moses in settling the land.”
To learn more about Nadav, Bat-El, and Dvash, you can check out the Israel365 web page.