Family of Murdered Yeshiva Student Asks President Not to Evacuate West Bank Yeshiva

President Herzog acknowledged that he had no authority to decide the issue, but promised the parents of Yehuda Dimentman to convey the family’s request to visiting U.S. National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan

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President Herzog at the home of the family of Yehuda Dimentman, on Tuesday.
President Herzog at the home of the family of Yehuda Dimentman, on Tuesday.Credit: Esther Alush
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Tuesday that he would convey a request from settlers at the unauthorized West Bank outpost of Homesh to U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan asking that the yeshiva at the site not be evacuated.

Speaking at a condolence call to the family of Yehuda Dimentman, a 25-year-old student at the yeshiva who was killed last week in a shooting ambush while riding in a car near Homesh, Herzog said he would present the request to Sullivan, who was due to arrive later on Tuesday on a one-day visit to Israel.

Homesh was evacuated in 2005 along with three other northern West Bank settlements when Israel withdrew all of its forces and its settlements from the Gaza Strip. Israelis are barred by law from the site, but settlers frequent the spot and operate the yeshiva at Homesh, which in practice functions as an outpost, with yeshiva students shuttling between the site and the nearest settlement, Shavei Shomron. 

Over the weekend, dozens of settlers remained at Homesh, an isolated site near Palestinian villages. Temporary structures that have been erected there are regularly demolished by Israeli authorities and rebuilt. At the beginning of the week, settlers who came to Homesh attacked Israeli security forces in the vicinity. A car was driven into one soldier, lightly injuring him.

During Herzog’s visit to Yehuda Dimentman’s parents’ home in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret Zion, the victim’s father, Rabbi Mordechai Dimentman, said that his son had “left a will written in blood to protect the yeshiva” and added that any damage to the yeshiva would constitute personal harm to the Dimentman family.

“I understand the logic and need to see the circumstances,” Herzog replied. “I will tell [Sullivan] about your family and also about your request.” But the Israeli president added that it is not he who decides such a matter and that “there are issues here that relate not only to the specific level but the regional and national” levels.

The head of the Samaria Regional Council in the West Bank, Yossi Dagan, urged Herzog to “hear the cry of this family” and not to permit the yeshiva, which was built without authorization, to be demolished. One can “only be amazed by their mental fortitude,” Dagan said of the family.

Last month, Herzog attended a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the largely Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron. In advance of Herzog’s visit, the Israeli army limited access to the area, preventing left-wing demonstrators from protesting the president’s presence there.

Yehuda Dimentman’s funeral was held Friday at Homesh and in Jerusalem, attended by hundreds of mourners including right-wing Knesset members. Speaking at Homesh, the leader of the Religious Zionism party, Bezalel Smotrich, called for the site to be settled. For his part, Likud Knesset member Nir Barkat said that the proper response to last week’s terrorist attack was boosting the number of settlers in the West Bank to 2 million.

Dimentman’s brother Shlomi said that “the Arabs are rejoicing over how” the Israeli High Court of Justice was, as he put it “humiliating us.”

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