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Scores Spend First Sabbath Back in Homesh

by Ezra HaLevi Arutz Sheva April 29, 2007

(IsraelNN.com) More than 100 Jews succeeded in returning to the destroyed Jewish town of Homesh Friday, and 70 managed to stay for the Sabbath despite a particularly violent attempt to remove the activists Friday afternoon.

More than 100 Jews reached Homesh Friday afternoon, through the paths and valleys activists have come to recognize after three increasingly large organized returns and several quieter pilgrimages.

Police and Yassam riot police were deployed to remove the group, which said it intended to stay in Homesh for the Sabbath. The forced evacuation began, “using particularly violent means,” according to the “Homesh First” organization. But aside from seven activists that were arrested, others ran in all directions to neighboring hills and valleys, as well as caves and crevices around the prominent Samarian hilltop. As the sun set and the Sabbath began, activists said it became clear that security forces had received the order to allow them to stay, and all returned to the destroyed community.

The IDF had indeed backed down and said it would allow them to remain until Saturday night, when they would be removed by force.

One activist described the decision to ascend to Homesh. “We took the fact that the IDF would not allow the buses rented to take us back from Homesh on Independence Day to mean they want us to stay here,” the activist told Arutz-7. “And then the brutal forced removal suddenly ended with the arrival of the Sabbath, obviously due to an order from above.”

In total, 70 activists spent the Sabbath at the destroyed community, the first time Jews have celebrated the Day of Rest at the site since the Sabbath prior to its demolition, in August 2005. Activists reported a particularly emotional and enjoyable Sabbath, despite the outdoor conditions and cold climate.

The Disengagement Law, which came into effect months before Homesh was destroyed and its residents forcibly evicted, makes it illegal for Israeli citizens to enter the area. Thousands have done so, however, in massive pilgrimages to the site that began last year on Chanukah, continued before Passover and most recently on Independence Day.

Forced Sabbath Violation
The seven activists that were arrested were forced to enter jeeps and be driven to the nearby community of Shavei Shomron at around 8 PM, after the Sabbath had begun.

Israel’s security forces are not permitted to engage in activities that violate the Sabbath and are not related to security, as decided by the IDF and Israel Police rabbinate.

MK Uri Ariel (National Union-NRP) warned the IDF Friday “not to repeat the mistakes of Havat Gilad (Gilad Farm – a hilltop outpost ordered demolished by then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, for which troops, some of them religious, were brought in on the Sabbath to take part in the demolition –ed.). There is no issue of endangerment of lives involved and the army should therefore not evict anyone from Homesh over the Sabbath.”

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union-NRP), not an identifiably observant Jew, said that a government that would order the violation of the Sabbath regulations in place for the security forces for political reasons must be brought down immediately.

Peace Now Worried
Peace Now issued a statement saying that the IDF’s failure to prevent Jews from reaching Homesh is clearing the way for Homesh to be resettled. “We should not allow them to create a precedent and spend the Shabbat in the area,” the statement said. “The settlers’ arrival is a result of the soft policy which has allowed them to return to Homesh in breach of the law.” The anti-settlement group called on Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to open an investigation into Homesh First, claiming the group was “abetting criminal behavior by calling on settlers to violate the law and resettle Homesh.”

Homesh First responded to Peace Now’s statement: “After the resounding failures of every program espoused by Peace Now, from the Oslo Accords to the Disengagement – we would expect them to hide their heads in embarrassment. One would expect them to be at the head of those seeking to rectify their errors and establish Homesh anew.”

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