Residents arrested for returning to site of destroyed homes

Former residents of Homesh, destroyed in 2005, arrested while having a Sabbath meal at the site of their destroyed former community.

Uzi Baruch ,

Homesh First

The Petach Tikva Magistrate Court rejected an appeal by the Israel police and ordered five prisoners from the town of Homesh released Sunday.

Homesh was a Jewish town in northern Samaria which the government destroyed in 2005, at the same time as the disengagement from Gaza. As was the case in Gaza, all Jewish residents were expelled from their homes in Homesh, and Jews have been banned from returning ever since.

The detainees were arrested on suspicion of attempted to reenter the community where they once lived.

Attorney Aharon Roza, who represented the six detainees on behalf of the Honenu legal organization, disputed the police's claim that those who violate the Disengagement Law banning former residents from returning to the site of their former homes constitute a danger, and requested their release. The judge presiding over the case ruled that they be released, but also banned them from entering the surrounding area for 30 days.

Roza said: "The detention in the Homesh area, followed by the request to extend the detention, was unnecessary and unconstitutional. No one presented the detainees with a warrant for a closed military zone, and when it became clear to them that they had to evacuate, they did so quickly. Mediation is a necessary component of police operations, and it would be good if in the future they use it instead of using detention as a first resort. The court rightly released the detainees."

The detainees were arrested in Homesh Saturday night. According to Honenu, military and police forces came to arrest them as they were eating the third meal of the Sabbath, called Seudah Shlishit.