ISRAEL IS FOREVER visit Homesh Photo: Homesh Yeshiva

Members of the Israel is Forever Foundation from the Alsace region of France went up to the controversial community at Homesh in northern Samaria to show support for the students at the yeshiva (Torah academy) and for resettling in the site.

In 2005, Homesh was demolished along with three other nearby settlements and all Jewish communities in Gaza under an arrangement devised by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with the hope that this would promote peace with the Palestinian Arabs. Despite the dismantling of the settlement, the IDF held onto the land and set up a base there. While this region is surrounded by Arab towns in Area B (under Palestinian Authority control), it remains in Area C, under Israeli jurisdiction.

In 2009, after repeated attempts to re-establish the community were consistently foiled, a yeshiva was set up on the site in order to maintain a Jewish presence in this historic region. The yeshiva is also periodically destroyed, but students and their rabbis return. Over the past year, a growing proportion of the Israeli populace is expressing its support by coming to marches and on solidarity visits. Now they were joined by the French branch of the Israel is Forever Foundation.

Together with Israel is Forever-Alsace founder and chairman Jean-Marc (Chaim) Metzger, 74, members of the organization arrived at Homesh waving both the Foundation flag and the Israeli flag. They expressed their intention to continue supporting the settlement movement in general and Homesh in particular.

"There is no logical reason why it was decided to evict the residents from here," Metzger remarked during his visit to Homesh. "Even now that the students and rabbis of the yeshiva have returned to the site, they still have no electricity and no water. They have to carry jerry cans of water and fuel in order to live here. Therefore, we need to do as much as possible to support them, and coming to visit them is part of that."

Nili Naouri, CEO of the Israel branch of the Israel is Forever Foundation, added: "It is inconceivable for Jews to be expelled from their homes in the Land of Israel! We returned to the land of our ancestors to re-settle it. This is our right and our duty."

At the yeshiva, they point out that this visit joins many other visits by Israelis from all sectors of society, as well as supporters from abroad. In recent months, yeshiva students, heads of various institutions and communities have visited Homesh to stand with the yeshiva students and Jewish re-settlement there.

Following the visit, yeshiva head Shmuel Vandi said, "We are happy to see the growing support that Homesh has in Israel and around the world. The encouragement we receive from organizations such as the Israel is Forever Foundation and others is proof that Homesh touches the hearts of Jews around the globe. Homesh is what connects them to the settlement movement in the Land of Israel. We thank Jean-Marc Metzger and his friends for their support of Homesh throughout the year. We were very happy to host them here at our yeshiva, hoping that on their next visit they will find a permanent yeshiva building.”