Editorial |

As Israel Bends Over Backwards for Homesh, Palestinians Pay the Price

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Army roadblocks at the entrance to Homesh in the West Bank on January 4
Army roadblocks at the entrance to Homesh in the West Bank on January 4Credit: Hadas Parush

The murder of Yehuda Dimentman about three weeks ago gave both the settlers and the security forces the legitimacy to make the Palestinians’ lives miserable.

Even though by law Israelis are prohibited from Homesh, in practice, and in order to permit the free movement of the unauthorized outpost’s settlers, the Israel Defense Forces erected a roadblock, manned around the clock, on the main road between Nablus and Jenin, and Palestinian cars are denied entry. The only cars allowed through are those of the Homesh yeshiva. The soldiers at the roadblock direct Palestinian vehicles to a poorly maintained dirt road.

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As if this were not enough, the army blocked numerous side entrances to the villages nearby Homesh with mounds of dirt, and hasn’t taken the trouble to remove them. In some places the Palestinian village council removed the improvised obstacles themselves. In others, they have remained, disrupting the lives of the Palestinians, extending their travel route and forcing them to travel on agricultural roads.

At the same time, ever since the murder, villagers have suffered repeated attacks by settlers from the direction of Homesh. In Burqa, about 20 graves in the village cemetery were vandalized, and rocks were hurled at more than 20 homes. Residents of Sebastia have also reported stones being thrown at their cars and a shattered window of a stall belonging to an old man who sells corn – his only source of income. No suspects have been arrested in any of these incidents, despite the increased military presence in the area (Hagar Shezaf, Haaretz, Thursday).

Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan (Meretz) was right to harshly criticize those who “perpetrate a pogrom on others” and “destroy property.” The fact that the political establishment went out of its way to denounce Golan for calling the violent settlers at Homesh “subhuman” is an excellent example of diverting attention from the main issue, turning a minor issue into a major one – anything so that the settlers can continue to live as lords of the land.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke loftily of not permitting new construction in Homesh, but so far he has been afraid to do what is necessary: to evacuate and demolish the yeshiva in Homesh. Israel’s government, which includes left-wing parties and an Arab party, continues to support, through silence, the collective punishment that Palestinians living in the area suffer, through no fault of their own.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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