Homesh will be evacuated but not now, Gantz says

"We will not evacuate a place where a Jew was murdered because that sends a harmful security message," Israel's defense minister said.

 Defense Minister Benny Gantz arrives to a government conference at the Hebrew University Givat Ram campus, on Jerusalem Day, May 29, 2022 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz arrives to a government conference at the Hebrew University Givat Ram campus, on Jerusalem Day, May 29, 2022
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Homesh yeshiva in the West Bank will eventually be evacuated, but not now, Defense Minister Benny Gantz told his Blue and White faction in the Knesset on Monday.

"Homesh can not stay where it is, because that would be against the Disengagement Law," Gantz said. At the same time, "we will not evacuate a place where a Jew was murdered because that sends a harmful security message," Gantz explained.

Still, he said, one day, "it will be evacuated."

"We will not evacuate a place where a Jew was murdered"

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, May 30

West Bank outpost 'must be vacated'

Gantz's message in the Knesset was similar to the repose the state submitted to the High Court of Justice on Sunday night in advance of a hearing on the matter this Thursday on a petition submitted by the left-wing group Yesh Din against the yeshiva.

"To clarify, the place must be vacated," the state told the court. It explained, however, that security forces and the upper echelon must be free to determine the date of such an evacuation.

 Visitors walk by the water tower on the ruins of the evacuated settlement of Homesh on August 27, 2019. (credit: HILLEL MAEIR/FLASH90) Visitors walk by the water tower on the ruins of the evacuated settlement of Homesh on August 27, 2019. (credit: HILLEL MAEIR/FLASH90)

The seminary had been located in the Homesh settlement, which was one of four settlements in northern Samaria, that the government destroyed as part of the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza.

The accompanying Disengagement Law prevents the presence of Israelis on the land that once housed the four settlements.

In the case of Homesh, the land had initially belonged to private Palestinians from the nearby Palestinian village of Burka. The High Court of Justice has since ruled that Palestinians have a right to farm their land there.

Despite the ban on an Israeli presence in Homesh and the site of the other three settlements, the Homesh yeshiva set up an illegal modular seminary at the site over 15 years ago. The IDF has removed it several times but has largely allowed it to remain. 

Homesh terror attack caused evacuation delay

The terror attack at the entry to the Homesh in December that claimed the life of seminary student Yehuda Dimentman, has given the IDF pause with respect to a final evacuation of the site. 

In its response to the court, the state said that since Dimentment's death the upper echelon had ordered security forces to "freeze the situation" at Homesh, but to be prepared to take action against it if ordered to do so. 

The state explained that there had been an increase in violence in the area in the aftermath of Dimentman's death. 

It added that security forces had worked to prevent Israelis from entering the site and had taken down any new illegal construction settlers had attempted to erect there.

It asked the court to dismiss the Yesh Din petition. Right-wing politicians and settler leaders and called on Gantz to authorize the yeshiva, while left-wing politicians have pushed for him to remove the yeshiva.