Israeli Military Restricts Palestinians, but Allows Settler Event at Evicted Outpost

Despite military checkpoints, some 1,200 people celebrated a Tu B’Shvat seder in the flashpoint settlement outpost of Homesh

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Settlers at a seder in Homesh on Tuesday
Settlers at a seder in Homesh on TuesdayCredit: Homesh Yeshiva
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

Some 1,200 people participated in a Tu B’Shvat seder on Sunday at the evacuated settlement of Homesh in the West Bank, although the site is a closed military zone and the event was held without IDF permission or coordination. Other events there since the killing of local yeshiva student Yehuda Dimentman were coordinated with the army.

The settlers who participated in the event went up to Homesh through the outskirts of the Palestinian village of Sebastia, thus bypassing the IDF checkpoint established to prevent people from reaching Homesh. The access road to the defunct settlement is also a closed military zone, and although the procession passed very close by and the marchers uploaded videos of them bypassing IDF checkpoints on social media, nobody stopped them en route to Homesh.

Smaller marches held in recent weeks were blocked by the IDF near Sebastia, but this time there was no interference. Another checkpoint has been erected at the entrance to Homesh, but the marchers were not stopped there either. Homesh itself is currently housing Israeli troops being stationed there. The IDF blocked the entry of residents to the nearby Palestinians village of Burqa on Sunday, and clashes developed between the soldiers and the villagers.

Footage shows 'yeshiva students marching and bypassing the checkpoints.'
Settlers celebrating in Homesh.

In principle, the road connecting Shavei Shomron and Homesh – which also passes through nearby Arab villages – is off-limits to Israeli and Palestinian vehicles alike. However, in practice the soldiers manning the checkpoint since the murder only block Palestinian motorists – and cars connected to the makeshift yeshiva at Homesh are allowed up on most days. Thus, throughout the past month, the stream of visitors to the yeshiva in Homesh continued.

“The situation is tough, and it has gotten tougher in the recent period,” Mohammed Azem, head of the Sebastia local council, told Haaretz. “The army is blocking our way, and only allowing settlers through.”

The Sunday event also violated the Disengagement Law, under which the settlement of Homesh was evacuated. Under the law, no Israelis may be present at the site except by IDF permission. According to the Homesh spokesman, the event was attended by some 1,200 yeshiva students from around the country “who marched for about two hours through Arab villages, accompanied by armed combat veterans.”

The army stated: “The IDF did not authorize the event and security forces took a number of measures, including setting up checkpoints, to prevent people from going to the area of the evacuated settlement of Homesh.”

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