Celebration in Homesh (archive)
Celebration in Homesh (archive)Israel news photo: Flash 90

The government’s decision several weeks ago to turn the community of Homesh in northern Samaria over to the Palestinian Authority has not put an end to activists’ efforts to restore the Jewish town of Homesh that stood there eight years earlier.

Activists say that the joyful PA takeover of the site – complete with a rally with strong anti-Semitic overtones – just strengthened their resolve to return and rebuild.

“The rally that took place in Homesh, with help from left-wing groups, reminded us all of the price of Arab presence in this place – one of the highest places in the land of Israel, which looks over large population centers along the coast,” explained Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika.

Israelis living in coastal cities “from Haifa to Ashdod” should realize that the fight for Homesh is their fight, he continued. The goal is “not to allow our enemies to settle a place from which they could make life very bad for those living along the coast,” he said.

Among the first steps should be allowing the Homesh yeshiva to return, he argued.

The Homesh yeshiva was evicted, and its buildings destroyed, along with the demolition of the rest of the town in the 2005 Disengagement. However, students at the yeshiva made the unusual decision to remain in Homesh despite the fact that it had been reduced to ruins.

The yeshiva continued to meet in Homesh for eight years, studying Torah at the site even in extreme weather conditions. However, the decision to hand the area over to the PA ended the yeshiva’s meetings.

Now Members of Knesset have joined the struggle to allow them to return. MK Motti Yogev (Jewish Home) recently visited Homesh along with yeshiva students and told them efforts are being made in Knesset to restore the community.

“The way back to Jewish settlement in Homesh runs through the Israeli government and the Defense Minister, so that is where we are focusing,” he told them.

MK Orit Struk (Jewish Home), too, recently visited Homesh. “Homesh has become a symbol, and the front line, of the public demand to right the terrible wrong of the Disengagement,” she said. “I will do whatever I can to strengthen the Jewish presence here.”

MKs Yoni Chetboun and Ayelet Shaked and deputy minister Eli Ben-Dahan, all members of the Jewish Home party, are expected to visit Homesh in the near future as well.

Yoav Simhi, a former resident of Homesh, expressed gratitude for the yeshiva’s work. “We aren’t religious people, but the yeshiva’s presence in Homesh, despite everything, gives us the strength to keep going, knowing that someone is watching over our home and working to bring us back home,” he said.

“We call on the Defense Minister to approve the presence of the yeshiva, which safeguards the Jewish presence at a site that is not only our home, but also a very important place from a strategic perspective,” he urged.

His daughter, Oranit, was twelve years old when she and her family were expelled from their home in Homesh. “It hurts,” she said. “We miss home. I would like to see [Homesh] flourishing again, and to build my home there.”