Celebrations are underway in the Samaria region as hundreds of people are set to gather at the Homesh Yeshiva for a festive morning prayer and praise on Israel's Independence Day on Wednesday.
Led by Yehuda Katz, the event will be held under the title "Celebrating Jewish Independence on Homesh" and marks the first such celebration since the repeal of the Disengagement Law a month ago.
"There is no suitable place to celebrate Independence Day more than Homesh," said Head of the Samaria Council Yossi Dagan who once lived in the former settlement of Sa-Nur which was evacuated together with the rest of Gush Katif in 2005.
Dagan, who worked tirelessly to repeal the law, is expected to attend the event and speak of his joy at being able to celebrate Jewish independence in Homesh.
"After many years of effort and hard work, we have removed the disgrace of deportation from northern Samaria," Dagan said. "The spirit of settlement, the love of the land and the dedication of the soul - there is nothing more appropriate than celebrating Independence Day in Homesh. From this tremendous power, we will regulate Homesh and return to all the settlements in northern Samaria."
"We are preparing to host hundreds and thousands of lovers of the land in the yeshiva, who will come celebrate with us the repeal of the terrible law that is the Disengagement law," Shmuel Vandi, head of the Homesh yeshiva, said regarding preparations for the event. "Everyone is invited to give thanks with us for the repeal of the law and to demand that the yeshiva and the Homesh buildings be regulated before the state's answer to the High Court regarding Homesh is given."
What is the Disengagement Law?
Seventeen years ago, residents of Homesh, Sa-Nur, Kaddim, Ganim and a series of other settlements that made up Gush Katif were evicted from their homes by the Israeli government as part of the Disengagement.
In late March, the Knesset voted to repeal the portion of the Disengagement Law banning Israelis from going to the area.
"A governmental settlement plan is also required for the rest of the vast areas of northern Samaria, which will create strategic settlement sequences and ensure Jewish control of this land," Oztma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech, a former resident of Homesh who lost her husband in a terror attack nearby, had stressed that the government should move forward with the re-establishment of Homesh.
The repeal of the law only lifts the ban on Israeli citizens entering the area; it doesn't automatically approve the re-establishment of the evacuated settlements.
The status of the land is now like the rest of Area C, meaning that any further restrictions or permits for building will fall to the IDF and the government.
The settlements that were evacuated are located in areas that are surrounded by Palestinian towns and distant from other Israeli settlements, at the northernmost part of Samaria, meaning that protecting any future settlements at these locations would present a significant challenge to the defense establishment.
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.