The Israeli government said Thursday that no date has been set for the evacuation of the illegal outpost of Homesh, and that the decision to remove the last remaining structure in the northern West Bank site rests only with Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
In response to a petition filed at the Supreme Court by the Palestinians who own the land, the government also said that it will continue to allow Israelis who study at the outpost yeshiva to come there, despite this violating a law that bars the presence of Israeli civilians from areas which Israel withdrew in 2005.
Although they claimed security forces prevent the entry of other Israelis into the area, dozens visit Homesh every day. It noted that it is enforcing the ban on new construction at the site, but that the yeshiva would only be demolished if Gantz decides to do so.
The response states that since the killing of Yehuda Dimentman in December, a wave of Israelis have been coming to Homesh through “open spaces and the surrounding villages,” making it difficult to totally prevent access to the site. If there is an indication that Israelis are arriving to the spot, however, roadblocks are spread out on the main pathways leading to Homesh, the response said.
However, two weeks ago Haaretz reported that about 1,000 settlers celebrated the holiday of Tu Bishvat in Homesh with the knowledge of the IDF, who did not stop their arrival.
The response noted that the murder significantly influenced security considerations in the area, and violent incidents initiated by both Israelis and Palestinians have increased.
Though the state claims that it allows Palestinians to pass the checkpoints set up along the road to Homesh, Palestinians cannot enter in practice because of a checkpoint placed at the outpost's entrance, and because of the yeshiva operating there.
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The state added that in light of its explanations, it believes there is no need for judicial intervention and that it is “working hard to enforce the law.”
Attorney Shlomy Zachary, who represents the Palestinians, said that "the weak response submitted to the court actually reveals the cooperation between the army and the illegal Homesh outpost, along with creating the basis for attacks on the residents of Burqa that have occurred in recent months.”
In October, the High Court of Justice criticized the IDF and police for not enforcing the entry ban on the evicted settlement of Homesh in the northern West Bank, as well as not ensuring that Palestinian landowners have access to their land there.
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut said at the time that those Palestinians, who have the right to access and cultivate their lands, are not being given an “adequate security umbrella,” and that individuals who “are present in the area and are not supposed to be there are causing disruption.” Justice Uzi Vogelman added that failure to address the ongoing violation of the law could lead to “the disintegration of governmental authority.”
Justices Hayut, Vogelman and Yael Willner heard the petition filed in 2019 by the human rights group Yesh Din in the name of 13 Palestinians from the village of Burqa. The petitioners demanded the enforcement of the 2005 Disengagement Law which prohibits Israelis from entering or building on the area of the demolished settlement.
Despite the law, settlers have been present at the site since the disengagement and have consistently built makeshift structures, which are demolished every few months. Palestinians interviewed in the past have said that settlers prevent them from accessing their lands and violently attack them.