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Yehuda Dekel completed his tenure as Director-General of the Settlement Department in 1989. He moved to the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites and was one of its founders and heads. Even there, he did not bid farewell to the Settlement Department and the Jewish Agency, as he mobilized them to conserve Israeli heritage sites. Among his activities: founding the Ayalon Institute Museum in Rehovot; bringing the ship "Galina" to Atlit and establishing HaReut Museum at Metzudat Koach in the Galilee, where many of his friends had fallen in the battle to take it in 5708.
A Pioneering Enterprise in Nitzana
Who ever said pioneering became a thing of the past in the Fifties and Sixties? It turns out that it can also be found in later years, and the example of Nitzana should be included among the good acts that were conceived and executed by two of the Jewish Agency's departments in the Eighties. Zeev Zivan wrote about this in his book "Lova Eliav's Nitzana" (2014):
Uri Gordon, the Head of the Youth Aliya Department and Eli Amir, its Director-General, sought a new beginning. It is worth noting that in the Eighties, when a single new Oleh could not be found in the State of Israel's seaports and airports, the Jewish Agency, whose strength laid in handling waves of Aliya, sought for itself a new activity. A new beginning to which it could allocate all the resources of the two departments – The Settlement Department with its great experience in establishing new settlements and the Youth Aliya Department, which then was still an educational movement of over 18 thousand members.
That is how the Nitzana Youth Village came into being, which was established and headed by the lion of the group – a true lion: Aryeh "Lova" Eliav. For decades, ever since the Forties, Lova (as he was called by everyone) was a powerful engine in the fields of "illegal immigration", Aliya, absorption and settlement, while simultaneously being a key political figure. In the Eighties, he was already largely considered a "has been".
He had initially rejected the proposal that he head this pioneering enterprise in the distant Negev, since at the time he was engaged in a series of "good deeds," including lecturing in schools, youth movements, prisons and working voluntarily as an orderly at a hospital. But later he fully committed himself to fulfilling the dream. Since the mid-Eighties and until 2008, for over twenty years, Eliav was the living spirit behind the establishment and development of Nitzana. The Nitzana Community and Lova Eliav are considered one and the same.
Soon, a settlement began to be built on the dunes near the Egyptian border, which attracted to it teachers and mentors who supported new enterprises and challenges and who were excited to walk – actually run – alongside Eliav. The Jewish Agency fulfilled its promise and funneled resources to the village. Hundreds and later thousands from all around the country came to Nitzana for a week or two of work and study. With time, the activity expanded and seminars, both short and long (up to a year), were held in Nitzana for schools, youth making Aliya, with a special emphasis upon youth from the former Soviet republics and Ethiopia, tours in the near and distant

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