Judea & Samaria is the geographical region that looks like a ‘kidney bean’ on maps of Israel.
Mainstream media often refer to the area as the ‘West Bank’ - a name which came into use after Jordan illegally occupied the territory from 1949-1967 in order to distinguish the new territory from Jordan proper, which is located on the eastern bank of the Jordan River.
The term Judea has historically been used to refer to the region just south of Jerusalem. Samaria has historically been used to refer to the mountainous region just north of Jerusalem. The term Judea comes from the tradition that the Jewish tribe of Judah inhabited the portion of land to the south of Jerusalem, while the Samaritans were a sect that lived during Biblical times in the mountainous region north of Jerusalem. The terms Judea & Samaria can be found in the writings of travelers to the region during the Middle Ages. And in more recent times, the League of Nations and even the United Nations always used the terms Judea and Samaria to describe the region in official documents through 1949.
The region is comprised of four cities, six counties and 15 smaller municipalities each with their own mayor and city/county council like in any municipality throughout Israel.
Judea and Samaria include approximately 21% of all territory west of the Jordan River which is a land mass of 3,438 square miles (5,500 square km). Its length (North-South) is approximately 79 miles (125 km) and varies from 19-34 miles (30-55 km) wide (East-West).
Altogether, less than 2% of Judea & Samaria has been developed by Israel.
Judea & Samaria can be found in the center of Israel along Israel’s eastern border with Jordan. Its central location makes it a critical strategic asset, without which Israel would be extremely vulnerable. From 1949-1967 Israel’s enemies used the strategic high lands to terrorize the lives of those living in central Israel. Their enemies were finally driven away with the success of the Six Day War.
The area encompasses the southern and northern suburbs of Jerusalem, those to the east of Tel Aviv with the Jordan River as its border to the east. It includes Israel's central mountain range, and at 1,100 meters above sea level, it overlooks Israel’s largest population center in Tel-Aviv, as well as Israel’s only international airport.
At its narrowest point, Netanya, a city on the Mediterranean beach is a mere 9 miles away from J&S.
The Tel Aviv coast is a mere 11-mile drive to J&S.
Israel’s international airport is just 4 miles away from J&S.
The Israeli residents of Judea & Samaria (J&S) live in communities that range from urban, to suburban to rural. They are small business owners, teachers, social workers, entrepreneurs, stay at home moms, etc. Many were raised in a J&S community and have chosen to raise their own families in the tight communities that J&S is known for. Some made Aliyah, moved from a foreign country directly to J&S, while others can count 4 generations of J&S residents in one family.
It is a young population and includes Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and practices. It includes Jews from both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions and includes Jews who are both secular, traditional, modern orthodox, Hasidic and everything in between.
They do not resemble the broad (typically negative) stereotypes of them, that can be found throughout mainstream media.
AFJS is committed to presenting the 491,923 (as of January 2022) residents of J&S accurately and allowing the world to see them for what they really are.
Did you know that Jews have not only yearned to, but have actually lived throughout YESHA (Judea & Samaria) for the past 4000 years?
The State of Israel has been in control of Judea & Samaria for more than 50 years – more than the amount of time that the British and Jordan (combined!) controlled the territory.
Judea & Samaria is the integral heartland of the State of Israel. It provides a critical strategic shield, contains critical natural resources, unique recreational opportunities.
In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, expelled its Jewish population and destroyed all of the Jewish communities there.
Israel’s vacating of the Gaza Strip led to massive rocket fire on cities throughout Israel (including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) in successive attacks orchestrated by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist entities.
As opposed to the Gaza Strip which is located in the southwest corner of Israel and offers no topographical advantage to threaten Israel, the mountainous range of Judea & Samaria reaches a height of 1,050 meters and dominates Israel’s population centers from Beersheva and Ashkelon in the south, to Netanya and Afula in the north, and Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the center making the region ideal for launching missiles that would cripple the State of Israel.
Judea & Samaria is overflowing with many gorgeous and challenging trails that numerous books have been written about them including Maayanush - detailing the natural springs – and Maslulyosh – detailing the incredible hikes in the region. (The books – only available in Hebrew – can be purchased here.
Since hiking the land is one of Israel’s national pastimes, the national parks and trails in the region are national treasures.
Judea & Samaria is blessed with many natural resources such as underground aquifers that are used to provide water to millions of Israelis throughout Israel. This groundwater resource known as the Mountain Aquifer underlies the central mountain ridge stretching along a north-south axis for some 150 km through Israel and Judea & Samaria. To surrender these valuable assets would threaten Israel’s ability to provide safe water to its population.
What is "Judea & Samaria"?
Why is it sometimes called the West Bank?
When did it start being called Judea & Samaria?
Is Judea & Samaria 'illegally occupied'?
Where is Judea & Samaria located?
How big is Judea & Samaria?
How many residents are there in Judea & Samaria?
Who governs the residents of Judea & Samaria?
Are there 'apartheid roads' in Judea & Samaria?
How much land has been developed throughout Judea & Samaria?