Israeli Army Won't Provide Security to 10,000-strong March to West Bank Outpost

Headed for an illegal outpost of Homesh in the northern West Bank, organizers of the mass march boast of 50 buses ferrying participants to the event, which has not been given security clearance by the Israeli army

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
Right-wing demonstration in support of the Homesh West Bank settlement, last week, in Jerusalem.
Right-wing demonstration in support of the Homesh West Bank settlement, last week, in Jerusalem.Credit: Emil Salman
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

Some 10,000 people are expected to take part in a march to the evacuated settlement of Homesh in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, but the mass demonstration, set to take place near several Palestinian villages, has not been cleared by the IDF, which is warning that it will not protect marchers.

The march's organizes have boasted of 50 buses shuttling far-right demonstrators to the event, which will end at what is now functionally an illegal settler outpost.

The police and IDF are preparing to set up roadblocks on the road leading to Homesh, but the army warned that some determined demonstrators would likely manage to get past the roadblocks. Knesset members, among them Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich, are expected to attend.

Two weeks ago, the commander of the Samaria Brigade, Roi Zweig, wrote a letter to the yeshiva illegally operating at Homesh, declaring the yeshiva unauthorized and dangerous. Anyone who chose to evade the soldiers on duty in the area and march near Palestinian villages, he warned, was “taking his life into his own hands.”

The former settlement has been the site of a yeshiva ever since it was evacuated as part of Israel's 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip and specific tracts of the West Bank. While the army has prevented settlers from living there, the illegal operation of the yeshiva has turned the site into a de facto outpost.

In December, Israeli settler Yehuda Dimentman was murdered at the entrance to Homesh by a group of Palestinians, intensifying support for the outpost from the wider settlement movement. Two weeks after his murder, a march was organized in which some 10,000 people participated. The army provided security for the march itself, but the large rally at Homesh towards the end of the march was unauthorized.

Israel's security establishment convened Sunday over the impending march, ultimately deciding against allowing it to go forward, keeping the order banning it in force. During day-long talks between officials including a suggestion to allow a few representatives to hold a symbolic ceremony and to move the march to another date, but no breakthroughs were reached.

According to security officials, the march poses too high a risk of violence breaking out during the already sensitive month of Ramadan, which they believe would likely produce a ripple effect throughout the West Bank on the heels of clashes between Israeli riot police and Palestinian worshipers in Jerusalem last week.

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