6 Iyar 5768, 11 May 08 08:28
by Hillel Fendel
(IsraelNN.com) With army approval and protection, thousands made their way to the Disengagement-destroyed Shomron town of Homesh on Independence Day – and then another 150 continued further north, in the middle of the night, to establish a presence at another Disengagement-town, Sa-Nur.
The midnight pioneers say their goal is to rebuild Sa-Nur. Efforts to rebuild Homesh have been underway for over a year.
Among the 150 people who made their way to Sa-Nur around 4:30 AM were former residents of the town, who were expelled in the summer of 2005 under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Disengagement/withdrawal plan. The Disengagement focused mainly on withdrawing from Gush Katif and expelling its 9,000 Jews, but four small towns in the northern Shomron were added as well, as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority. The four included the relatively-isolated Ganim and Kadim near Jenin, and Sa-Nur and Homesh, both north of Shavei Shomron.
Singing About the Joyous Return to Zion
The 150 when it was still dark, affixed a mezuzah to a wall that remained standing and in which some of them planned to sleep, and danced and sang, “G-d’s redeemed people will return to Zion with joy.”
As of late Friday morning, they were still in Sa-Nur, preparing to remain, at least, for the Sabbath. Army forces, caught unawares, have arrived; they have not received an order to try to evict the settlers, and are instead standing watch over them as police attempt to convince them to leave on their own.
An Arutz-7 video of the ascent, filmed by Kobi Sela, can be seen here.
This is the Answer to Olmert’s Corruption
Yossi Dagan, a spokesman for the efforts to rebuild Sa-Nur and Homesh, told Arutz-7 today, “Just as we have succeeded in establishing a permanent presence in Homesh, we plan to do the same in Sa-Nur… With the corruption and loss of values represented by Olmert and his government, this is the correct answer – a pioneering spirit of settlement and return to the Land.”
The IDF released a statement reiterating the ban on entering the area – which, unlike Gush Katif, was never handed over to Palestinian Authority control and effectively remains no-man’s land.
However, the Homesh First campaign responded, “We are not the criminals; if there are criminals, they are those who uprooted the residents of Sa-Nur from their homes, as well as Ehud Olmert, the architect of the expulsion and corruption.”
Dagan said, “If the soldiers evict us, fine – but we will return, just like we returned to Homesh.”
Background and History
Chomesh and Sa-Nur, some 20 miles east of Netanya, were situated within a narrow Israeli-controlled strip only two miles wide, flanked on both sides by territory under total Arab control. Though the two towns and their residents had suffered several terrorist-attack murders, Land of Israel supporters were very active in strengthening them in the hope of warding off the withdrawal plans: Of the 17 families living in Sa-Nur several months before the end, nine of them were young religious families who arrived in the preceding months, opening a new kindergarten and nursery in their wake. In Chomesh, too, a new kindergarten was opened in its last year; of its 43 families, 11 were new religious families that arrived during the previous two years.
Despite the efforts, the government succeeded in destroying the towns, leaving barely a single stone to mark where the houses and synagogues had stood (though the synagogue in Sa-Nur was not razed, but rather buried).
Efforts to rebuild Homesh began at the end of 2006, when a group snuck into the former town and lit Chanukah candles there. A few months later, before Passover and on Independence Day, larger groups made their way up, claiming they were on their way to resettle the town. The army originally said it would block the Independence Day march, but then backed down and provided tacit protection. However, the day ended in a fiasco when the army removed all electricity, water supplies and transportation, thus leaving thousands of people, including women and children, stranded – hungry, tired, and thirsty – atop the mountain, forced to walk several kilometers down the mountains in the dark.
As if to make up for what happened, the army announced this year that it would cooperate with the organizers of the ascent – though the organizers themselves preferred to go it alone. While some chose to march up the hills in a 3-4 hour trek, thousands of people made their way by bus to nearby Shavei Shomron, where shuttle buses were on hand to take them up to Homesh, and then back down. The ruins of Homesh were thus filled with people of all ages, engaged in traditional Independence Day barbecues, studying Torah, participating in a music concert, playing on giant inflatables, and walking around the ruins.
For the above 150, however, this was not enough – and they now await either the onset of a joyous Sabbath in the hills of the northern Shomron, or an army eviction with the prospect of additional ascents in the future.