Three Israeli Activists Arrested for Plan to Protest West Bank Outpost

Israeli security forces blocked demonstrators' access to Homesh after they threatened to demolish the West Bank outpost with a bulldozer

Hagar Shezaf
The bulldozer rented by left-wing activists, today.
The bulldozer rented by left-wing activists, today.Credit: Moti Milrod.
Hagar Shezaf

Israeli security forces on Saturday detained three left-wing activists and blocked access of demonstrators to the evacuated settlement of Homesh in the northern West Bank, after activists rented a bulldozer and called to tear down the last structures of the outpost.

Dozens of demonstrators from the left-wing group Peace Now gathered in the central Israel city of Rosh HaAyin with the intention of marching toward Homesh and demolishing the structures in the West Bank outpost, but the police blocked the buses carrying the activists.

Two of the detainees were the truck drivers carrying the bulldozer and another a member of the anti-Netanyahu movement. The latter claimed that police began following him when he left his house and arrested him before arriving at the gathering point where other activists were waiting.
Two of the activists have since been released and one remains in custody.

The police officers who carried out the arrests said that the order had come from Israel's attorney general, though they did not present an official warrant when carrying out the arrests.

The activists were arrested, according to the police, for their intention to damage property and due to "the substantial concern that public safety will be threatened by violent clashes." The military has issued an order barring demonstrations at Homesh and blocked as many as five entrances to the outpost. Activists are still trying to reach Homesh through alternative roads.

The demonstration was attended by the Joint List's Ofer Cassif and Meretz lawmakers Gaby Lasky and Mossi Raz. The latter slammed the police for blocking off the route: "Yesterday, criminals marched there without disturbance, but those who come non-violently in order to advance peace are stopped. For shame."

The protest convoy comes ahead of an Israeli High Court of Justice hearing on Thursday over the evacuation of remaining structures at Homesh, which was evacuated in 2005 as part of a larger Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank.

On Friday night, dozens of settlers attempted to enter Homesh, with the military deploying forces across the area to prevent settlers from arriving at the site.

Border Police officers confiscated equipment from the settlers who managed to reach the Homesh yeshiva, which has been periodically demolished since it was initially established in 2009.

Last year, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on students from the yeshiva, killing 25-year-old Israeli Yehuda Dimentman and wounding two others.

According to the Peace Now NGO, activists have been received threats since they announced their intention to demonstrate at Homesh, and have called on Defense Minister Benny Gantz to secure the protest.

However, in recent months, the Israeli army has secured several right-wing protests that have taken place at the site, some of them including thousands of participants. The army has also enabled settlers to access Homesh via buses.

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