A Home Front brigade broke IDF orders and a Cabinet decision and forced Sabbath violations in the expulsion of Homesh activists for the first time in several months on Friday evening.
Homesh was one of four northern Samaria communities destroyed by the government in the 2005 “Disengagement” expulsion program. Activists have maintained a Jewish presence at the site for the past three and a half years.
A Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee subcommittee decided last year that the IDF would halt its repeated expulsion of Homesh activists on the Sabbath, and an agreement was reached with the army.
The policy was honored – until Friday night. Soldiers from the Home Front Kedem brigade were deployed at the site shortly before the Sabbath began Friday night. As the Day of Rest began, jeeps and police arrived, searched for civilians and arrested three activists, who were forced to ride in the army vehicles in violation of the Sabbath.
The police took them to the nearby community of Shavei Shomron around 8 p.m., one hour after the Sabbath began. Rabbi Yehoshua Shmidat, spiritual leader of Shavei Shomron and head of the yeshiva by the same name, arrived along with leaders, and around 8:45 p.m., the officers released the three people who had been detained.
“It seems that someone has again decided on his own to pick a fight with Homesh residents,” said Ze’ev Elkin, chairman of the Knesset Subcommittee on Affairs in Judea and Samaria. “The subcommittee will discuss this action and will take whatever steps are necessary to prevent violations of the Sabbath and will make it clear that, particularly at this time, the purpose of the IDF is to protect citizens and not to fight them.”
National Union Knesset Member Uri Ariel responded, “We will not agree to repeated violations of the Sabbath… They have become an objective and are against the laws of the IDF."
The Shomron (Samaria) Citizens Committee stated, “As citizens of Israel, we are embarrassed by those who order soldiers, who enlist to defend the country and the People of Israel, to fight against Jewish citizens of the country instead of fighting enemies.
"Forcing the soldiers to arrive at Homesh as the Sabbath began was done with the obvious objective of aggravating Jews there…and with the full knowledge that most of them observe the Sabbath.”