State: Gantz must make decision on razing Homesh Yeshiva

The public spotlight has been on Homesh since the December terror attack that claimed the life of one of its students, Yehuda Dimentman, as he left the hilltop.

 Evacuation of modular structures on the Homesh hilltop in the West Bank, December 24, 2021. (photo credit: HOMESH YESHIVA)
Evacuation of modular structures on the Homesh hilltop in the West Bank, December 24, 2021.
(photo credit: HOMESH YESHIVA)

The state failed to give a date for the evacuation of the Homesh Yeshiva in the West Bank when it submitted a response on the matter to the High Court of Justice.

“Enforcement against them will be carried out in accordance with a decision by the defense minister [Benny Gantz] and the Defense Ministry on the basis of current situational assessments,” the state said late Thursday night.

Right-wing politicians and settler leaders had feared that the state would set a date for demolition of the yeshiva, which has been illegally located on the Homesh hilltop for over 15 years.

But its failure to do so did not assuage their fears.

The public spotlight has been on Homesh since the December terrorist attack that claimed the life of one of its students, Yehuda Dimentman, as he left the hilltop.

 Yehuda Dimentman, killed by Palestinian terrorists at Homesh, is seen with his wife and child. (credit: Courtesy the Dimentman family) Yehuda Dimentman, killed by Palestinian terrorists at Homesh, is seen with his wife and child. (credit: Courtesy the Dimentman family)

His family asked that in his memory the government authorize the yeshiva and rebuild the settlement, which the IDF destroyed after the Gaza pullout in 2005.

As part of the Disengagement plan, four northern settlements were destroyed including the one on Homesh.

Israelis are forbidden from entering the territory on which the former settlements were located, but settlers and the Right have ignored that edict when it comes to Homesh.

The left-wing group Yesh Din has argued that their presence has made it difficult for Palestinian farmers from the village of Burka to access their lands on the hilltop.

The initial Homesh settlement was built on private Palestinian land from the village of Burka. After its demolition, the High Court of Justice upheld the rights of the Palestinians to farm that land.

In 2019, Yesh Din petitioned the court to ensure that the IDF will protect the rights of the Palestinian farmers and uphold edicts such as the law banning Israelis from the hilltop.

It did not specifically ask that the yeshiva be evacuated, but the issue is presumed within the petition.

The Right had feared that the IDF would permanently evict the yeshiva after the attack.

The state, in its High Court response, said the upper echelon had in fact an order to remove all construction from the site, that the order had been given two weeks after Dimentman’s murder and that forces were told to be ready for such a step.

It added, however, that the timing for such an action was dependent on Gantz.

They said the IDF was actively removing any new construction on the site and that forces had been placed there in the aftermath of the attack.

While the military has not removed the yeshiva or its students from the site, the state confirmed that Israelis are not permitted on the hilltop but that it is impossible to hermetically seal it to ensure the edict is upheld.

MK Mossi Raz (Meretz) said the lack of an evacuation date was a “surrender to settler violence.”

“According to the Disengagement Law, Israelis are not allowed to stay in the area, but again, it turns out that the settlers are above the law and the army commanders are forced to work under the command of the hill youth,” he said.

“This is what moral bankruptcy looks like.”

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party) said the state’s response confirmed his fear that an order had been given to evacuate Homesh.

Such a step would “complete” the withdrawal from northern Samaria initiated by former prime minister Ariel Sharon, he said, and would “award a prize for terrorism.”