Four years after his murder, Shuli Har-Melekh remains a symbol of the struggle for Homesh. His family mourned him this year back in Homesh, which is beginning to bloom once again.
A grassroots movement has formulated 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, in which Israel demolished 25 of its own towns, including Homesh, with the stated purpose of improving its security situation.
Har-Melekh was murdered by Arab terrorists while driving home to Homesh on Rosh Chodesh [the first day of the Hebrew month of] Elul, 5763 . He set out from his parents home in Kokhav HaShachar, northeast of Jerusalem, with his wife Limor and was ambushed by five terrorists who sprayed the vehicle with automatic gunfire. Shuli was killed instantly, Limor shot in the hand and their child, later named Sarah, was born later that day in an emergency Caesarian operation.
Shuli’s widow and two orphans, including their first born child Ahuvia, stayed in Homesh, determined not to allow northern Samaria to fall into the hands of his murderers. They were forcibly evicted, however, in 2005, in the second stage of Sharon's Disengagement.
Now, four years later to the day of the murder and two years after the expulsion, Shuli’s father Moshe Har-Melekh spoke with Arutz-7 about the powerful emotions felt by the family upon returning to the ruins of their destroyed home and witnessing the bustle of activists building and preparing infrastructure in the town for rebuilding. Rosh Chodesh Elul marked one month of continuous Jewish resettlement of Homesh.
“We, as a family, decided to hold our heads up and to march forward down the path that Shuli prepared for us, to continue his way, in his merit,” his father said. “Now it is four years since the murder of my son by barbarians and his home, Homesh, is back in the headline in a way that is not at all rational,” he marvels.
“Only two years ago our ‘heroic’ brethren expelled us, the family, together with Limor – Shuli’s widow – and her beloved children, from Shuli’s home in Homesh. On the house was written, in huge letters visible from afar, ‘Here lived the holy martyr Shuli Har-Melekh, may G-d avenge his blood.’ But the sign did not deter the determined soldiers, they obeyed their orders without regard.”
Moshe Har-Melekh recalls the day of the forced eviction. “The commanders crowded into the house in order to listen to us and afterward carried out the expulsion. They heard very well my words and those of my son Ro’i, reviewing the history of the Jewish people in these mountains of Samaria. We promised them that we would continue in Shuli’s spirit, and already this year, thank G-d we have already actualized that promise in a huge way.”
“The young people who have repopulated Homesh today are continuing, in the most direct way, Shuli’s greatest wishes,” Har-Melekh said. “The flowering of northern Samaria anew, which was the driving force in Shuli’s life, is for us, the family, the beginning of the process of the Revival of the Dead, which will, with G-d’s help, come about soon.”
The bereaved father speaks of his son’s widow, Limor, with admiration. “Limor took upon herself the impossible task of rebuilding Homesh anew,” he said. “Not in a couple of years – now. Right now. To rectify the awesome crime perpetrated by the State of Israel against all of us and particularly against Shuli, who held on to this place by his fingernails to strengthen it despite all the difficulties.”
Birthday and Yahrtzeit on the Same Day
Limor Har-Melech Sokn, Shuli’s widow, now remarried, ascended to Homesh Wednesday, Rosh Chodesh Elul – to celebrate her daughter’s Sarah’s birthday. “From the birthday party we traveled to the commemoration ceremony for Shuli,” she said. “It is very emotional that two years after the expulsion, on the very day of the murder, we are witness to the continuous Jewish presence that has continued for a month now in Homesh. After the expulsion, the nation of Israel waited and expected to return to Homesh and erase the crime and today we have merited this.”
Har-Melekh Sohn was arrested and investigated by the Hevron police last week for conveying messages to Homesh activists via recorded voice-mail messages dubbed “Radio Homesh” by activists.
The defiant activist says she is unmoved by police harassment of Homesh First activists. “When I looked at the file that the police had concocted for me, I thought about how, when I arrive in the World to Come, all the accusations in there will become merits. It is amazing how the world we live in is completely upside-down.”
“We are overjoyed that the process of returning to Homesh is growing sinews and skin and that we are able to witness it,” Har-Melekh Sohn exclaimed. “The media are trying to hush it up, but the public is busy with deeds. Credit for the self-sacrifice must be given to the youth, who are in Homesh and refuse to come down – asking no questions and refusing to give up.”
“At the time of the expulsion, I felt like they were murdering Shuli again, Homesh was his life’s work. They didn’t just murder him, but murdered his life’s work. Today we feel a sort of comfort and completion of a cycle. We are returning and fixing the injustice of the expulsion, witnessing the redemption before our eyes.”
Yossi Dagan: Shuli Was a Man of Truth
Yossi Dagan of Homesh First, the grassroots movement that has spearheaded the return to the destroyed town, recalls speaking with Shuli Har-Melekh on the phone juts minutes before he was murdered. “The conversation dealt with strengthening the religious core-groups that had been established in Homesh and Sa-Nur. We wanted to organize a visit by rabbis to the region to strengthen the residents and to increase consciousness of the difficult situation in the region.”
“Shuli was a man of truth,” Dagan said. “He went with his truth all the way and with what he believes in without compromise. He would always say, ‘I will do what I can and the Holy One, Blessed be He will continue.’ At the same time, he got along very well with his non-observant neighbors in Homesh as well.”
Dagan said that the Jewish presence in Homesh has now been continuous for four and a half weeks. “Shuli’s sacrifice has not been forgotten and we are in the process of returning to Homesh.”
Public Invited to Join
Activists currently in Homesh invite others to join them. They say they have all the food they need, a Torah Scroll and building materials. “Volunteers are invited to bring a sleeping bag and move on up,” a message on "Radio Homesh" says. For more information, call 052 630 2222