Homesh march 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hundreds are expected to attend a burial ceremony slated for Wednesday at Homesh, for holy books allegedly burned by local Arabs.
The event is part of a campaign which has restored and maintained a yeshiva in the former northern Samaria settlement, which was dismantled by government order and is now a closed military zone.
The Homesh Tehila ("Homesh First") group has been maintaining the yeshiva on the site for the past two years. A daily convoy of bullet-proof off-road vehicles skirt IDF checkpoints and bring a cadre of students to the site, where they learn Jewish texts until sundown. At night a guard remains at the site.
In the wake of the book-burning incident, members of the government have called to reestablish a presence at Homesh. Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) called on the government to erect a permanent structure to house the yeshiva and see to it that the students were protected "so that such severe anti-Semitic incidents will not repeat themselves."
According to David Ha'ivri, a spokesman for the Samaria Regional Council, one night when there was no guard, local Arabs broke into the yeshiva and "burned to ashes" the holy books studied by the students.
In a press release, Ha'ivri juxtaposed the fire created by the burned holy books with the spiritual fire kindled by the yeshiva students' learning.
"...the flame that is the Torah of Israel burned brightly at Homesh for the past two years, showing the renewed Nation of Israel the way," wrote Ha'ivri. "With strong belief in the God of Israel, we can correct the errors of the past and cease to make false agreements with the enemy that in truth yearns to destroy us. We must all join together to rekindle the holy fire of Torah at Homesh!"
The procession to Homesh, which will begin at Shavei Shomron, is not coordinated with the IDF. "Homesh opposes in principle working with the IDF," said Ha'ivri.
The burial ceremony will be an opportunity to raise financial and logistic support for maintaining the Homesh yeshiva as it prepares for the 2009-2010 academic year.
Although the books were burned two weeks ago, the ceremony was planned to coincide with the three-week period of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and other tragic historical incidents in Jewish history that begins on 17 Tamuz and ends on Tisha Be'av.
For settlers and other supporters of "Greater Israel" this three-week period is particularly poignant since the communities in the Gaza Strip, along with Homesh and other settlements in northern Samaria, were dismantled immediately following Tisha Be'av as part of the 2005 disengagement plan.
The disengagement has come to be seen as a colossal failure, not only by settlers but by a large percentage of the Israeli public, as reports of the government's incompetent handling of the rehabilitation of displaced former residents of north Samaria and Gaza receives steady media attention.
The strategic benefits of the unilateral withdrawals, which were not made within a peace agreement with the Palestinians, have also been negligible, critics say.