April 24, 2007: Photo Essay of Indepedence Day March
March 28, 2007: Photo Essay - Homesh Forcefully Evacuated
March 27, 2007: Photo Essay - Day Two of "Homesh First" Resettlement Attempt
March 26, 2007: Video, Radio & Photo Feature - Day One of "Homesh First" Resettlement Attempt
December 2006 Photo Essay - Chanukah March to Homesh
In the months leading up to the Disengagement/expulsion, public perception concentrated mostly on Gush Katif - and now Homesh, one of the four destroyed Shomron towns, is making up lost ground.
Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim and Kadim were the four Shomron towns that Ariel Sharon volunteered to destroy and uproot in order that Gaza not be the lone sacrifice. The residents there, not as organized or as unified as those in Gush Katif, did not put up as strong of a fight, and their protest was relatively mooted.
Now, nearly two years later, the efforts of the nationalist "orange" camp to resettle the destroyed areas are focusing totally on one town: Homesh.
Unlike the Jewish communities in Gaza, the former Jewish communities in northern Samaria, Homesh, Ganim, Kadim, and Sa-Nur remain under Israeli control. Though Israeli forces still have free rein there, permanent IDF presence in these areas ended five weeks after the Disengagement.
In August of last year, General Security Services (Shabak) chief Yuval Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, “Northern Samaria has turned into Islamic Jihad-land due to the lack of a permanent military presence there.”
The IDF has allowed the Shomron tourist offices to bring organized groups to the local site of Sebastia, one of the earliest settlements established by Gush Emunim in the early 1970s.
In Sukkot of 2005, hundreds of youths attempted to make their way to Sa-Nur and Homesh, north of Kedumim, but were turned back by the army. On Chanukah of that year, some 15 people snuck into the area to light holiday candles. Miriam Adler, one of the Sa-Nur expellees, said, "We were thrown out, but we have not abandoned Sa-Nur, and we will continue to go back there until we are able to return for good."
All was quiet for a year, until another return was openly planned and implemented on Chanukah of last year. Many hundreds of Land of Israel supporters, accompanied by MK Aryeh Eldad, lit Chanukah candles in Homesh as a sign and prayer of their desire to return. Click here to see a video of the return, prepared by Arutz Sheva TV.
Last month, after again publicly announcing and planning it, thousands of Jews made their way up to Homesh - this time, saying they were aiming to stay for good. The IDF had announced that the pre-Passover march would be banned, but then abruptly backed down and announced a change of heart. The pioneers reached nearby Shavei Shomron by bus, and marched the remaining seven kilometers by foot. The IDF provided protection, but blocked vehicles from entering the area. Many of those who returned remained there for two days, until finally being coaxed down by army forces and/or the lack of supplies.
The general feeling was one of uplifted inspiration, and many of the marchers said they now had no doubt that Homesh would be rebuilt sooner or later.
The army then changed tactics, and when an Independence Day march was planned, it said people would not be allowed up. IDF barriers were set up at Kedumim, 12 kilometers to the south of Homesh - and despite this, once again, some 10,000-15,000 people made their way by foot - unhindered by the army - to Homesh for the day.
The most recent visit to Homesh took place over the Sabbath of April 27-28, when some 70 Jews spent a "very uplifting" Sabbath at the site.