Lawless Land

After Homesh was evacuated and its houses demolished, the IDF declared it a military zone closed to Israelis; the order hasn't bothered the right-wing organizations, though, as they've been holding rallies on the ruins of Homesh ever since.

The settlement of Homesh was evacuated eight years ago, as part of the government's disengagement plan. What has happened there since is a reflection of the lawlessness in the West Bank and the powerful rule of the settlers, which no decisions – either by the Israel Defense Forces, the High Court of Justice or the government – can overcome.

After Homesh was evacuated and its houses demolished, the IDF declared it a military zone closed to Israelis. That decision is still in force today. The order has never bothered the right-wing organizations, though. They have been holding rallies on the ruins of Homesh - the largest of which took place at Passover, in the presence of Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon and Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky. The IDF did not even try to enforce the order it had issued.

Along with that order, two others were in force. One was a military seizure order, which prevented its owners – residents of the village of Burka - from going there. Two weeks ago, at the hearing for a petition by the owners of the land, submitted by the human rights group Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights, the state informed the High Court that it was annulling this order. That is not enough. Another order prevents the owners of the land from reaching it – a closure order barring Palestinians from entering all settlements. This order has not been rescinded to this day, although the settlement was evacuated eight years ago. Over the years, the residents of Burka have also suffered frequent and violent attacks by settlers.

Last week, Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy and photographer Alex Levac tried to reach the settlement together with a number of the landowners. In Friday's Week's End, they reported that a group of hilltop youth were wandering around Homesh. These individuals told Levy and Levac that they were living permanently in the area evacuated of settlers. One of them was armed, their rabbi was watching from afar, and the landowners had to flee for fear of them. The IDF Spokesman's Office told Haaretz: "Entry to Homesh is still closed," and that "in the near-future, the need will be studied to continue closure of the area."

In their ruling, the High Court justices stated: "We have noted that the military seizure order is to be rescinded. Naturally, it is to be expected that this commitment will be realized within a reasonable time." As long as the IDF does not evict the hilltop thugs from Homesh, it is complicit in breaking the law and ignoring a High Court ruling. As long as it does not return the land to its owners, it is an accomplice to the act of robbery.