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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 08:29 GMT
In pictures: Tekoa

Tekoa signpost (photo: Noam Sharon. All rights reserved)

The settlement of Tekoa sits on a West Bank hilltop, flanked by areas under Palestinian Authority control. It is home to about 300 families, both religious and secular.

Rabbi Menachem Fruman and his son (photo: Noam Sharon. All rights reserved)

The head of the community is the charismatic Rabbi Menachem Fruman. A renowned authority on Jewish mysticism, he is revered by his students.

Rabbi Menachem Fruman (photo: Noam Sharon. All rights reserved)

The rabbi is a veteran peacemaker who has made overtures to the Palestinian leadership and militant groups. He says a democratic Palestinian state in the West Bank is conceivable.

Tekoa seminary (photo: Noam Sharon. All rights reserved)

The heart of the settlement is the yeshiva - or Jewish seminary - founded by Rabbi Fruman. Here, young religious Jews from around the world come to study holy texts.

Soldier (photo: Noam Sharon. All rights reserved)

Tekoa is peaceful with no sign of the political controversy which surrounds the issue of Jewish settlements. There is an army unit based on the site, in case of emergencies.

Woman with pram (photo: Noam Sharon. All rights reserved)

Homes in Tekoa cost between $90,000 and $150,000, while facilities include a winery, post office and a dairy.

Boaz Moshkovich (photo: Noam Sharon. All rights reserved)

Boaz Moshkovich, 46, moved to Tekoa in 1989. An immigrant from the former Soviet Union, he says he would not leave Tekoa unless it fell under Palestinian Authority rule.

West Bank barrier

Tekoa is one of about 70 settlements on the "wrong" side of Israel's West Bank barrier. Residents fear the barrier will become a border, leaving them disconnected from Israel.


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