The musician “Yirmiyahu” provided melodies and musings in what participants called a “Woodstock with separate seating” atmosphere. Fireworks augmented light provided by a generator that was recently hidden in the abandoned infrastructure.
A brit milah (ritual circumcision) is set for Tuesday afternoon at the site and as participants celebrate the future of a tiny Jewish boy, so too are they planning to someday celebrate the rebuilt community of Homesh.
Security forces kept a low profile as activists marched the seven kilometers from Shavei Shomron. The IDF estimates that some 3,500 people returned to Homesh, with soldiers guarding the marchers as they streamed toward the site even as they blocked vehicles from entering the area.
Many came with tents and sleeping bags and prepared to spend the night – and possibly longer – among the ruins where homes used to stand.
Activists called upon the soldiers and political leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to undo the damage done in 2005 by participating in the marchers’ return, or by donating money to refugees of the Disengagement who have yet to find jobs or permanent homes.
Unlike the Gush Katif region in Gaza, which the IDF handed over to the Palestinian Authority, Homesh and nearby Sa-Nur are still under full Israeli control. Nonetheless, Jews have not been permitted there since the 2005 Disengagement.
Participants in Monday’s return to Homesh vowed to rebuild the community once more, regardless of how long it takes.