Continued Jewish presence in the town of Homesh has reached the two-week mark despite efforts by security forces to keep Homesh First activists away.
Homesh First is a grassroots movement that has set as its goal the rebuilding of the town of Homesh as a first step in rectifying the damage of Ariel Sharon's 2005 Disengagement Plan, in which Israel demolished 25 of its own towns, including Homesh, with the stated purpose of improving its security situation.
Again on Tuesday, the IDF and police forcibly evicted dozens of determined idealists from the ruins of Homesh who wish to rebuild the town. Many of them are already on their way back, however, while others ran away to the hills when the forces arrived.
The evacuation began at 4 AM, when Border Guard forces arrived without warning and began loading the would-be residents on trucks. The trucks took them to Rosh HaAyin and near Netanya, from where some of them immediately got on a bus going back to Homesh.
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The current attempt to revisit and reconstruct Homesh began two full weeks ago, and involved a violent eviction of most of the hundreds who arrived. However, at least some Jews have always been in or near Homesh during this two-week period. This past Sabbath, close to 100 people were there, including several families who are part of the Homesh core-group that wishes to rebuild the town.
Arson Around Yitzhar
Meanwhile, further to the east in the Samaria region, residents of Yitzhar report that Arabs from nearby villages have yet again set fire to fields around the town, endangering the residents.
Following the fifth such fire at various places around the town in three weeks, residents see the bright side: "They can't burn much more, since it's already burnt," say Ayelet HaShachar Cohen and Irit Albert. "One of the recent fires mainly burned the Arab olive groves, anyway."
Mrs. Albert took a more serious approach when referring to the lack of action on the part of the security services in searching for the perpetrators and bringing them to justice: "The army comes out when there is a fire, but they take no action at all in actually investigating who did it and trying to catch them. This is in clear contrast to how they act if a Jew does something - he is immediately taken to the police station in Ariel and held there. The contrast is just astonishing."
Last week, one of the Arab fires destroyed irrigation and water supply systems, as well as sections of a vineyard and an olive grove. This past Sabbath, local residents and firefighters spent hours trying to put out a fire. As one observer noted, "Although the fire was stopped in time, hundreds of charred dunams [quarter-acres] are a frightening reminder of the constant threat."
Destroying a Synagogue
Just hours before the last fire, the government ordered Civil Lands Administration personnel to destroy a year-old synagogue built on Mount Gerizim near the PA-controlled city of Shechem. Government officials maintained that the building was erected without a permit, and was not a synagogue. In fact, however, Breslover hassidim and others used the building daily for prayer and Torah studies, and promise to attempt to rebuild it.
Joseph's Tomb was conquered by the Palestinian Authority in late 2000. The structure was located at the closest point to Joseph's Tomb that Jews are allowed to come. Since the fall of Joseph's Tomb into Arab hands, the site of the synagogue and subsequently the synagogue itself served as a focal point for yeshiva students and visitors who wished to express their solidarity and longing for Joseph's Tomb in Shechem below.