When asked a year ago what he would do if he had only a week left to live, terror victim Yehuda Dimentman said he would study Torah on the ruins of the former West Bank settlement of Homesh.
On Sunday – less than 72 hours after he was killed by Palestinian gunmen as he left the Homesh hilltop – his young widow, Ethia, publicly called on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to help ensure that Israelis could study and live on that hilltop for generations to come.
“This is his will,” Ethia told reporters as she held her young red-headed son David on her lap and sat in her in-laws’ home in Mevaseret Zion outside of Jerusalem.
She repeated the description of her husband, uttered by many, that he was a soldier without a uniform in pursuit of the cause of ensuring that the government authorize a settlement on the northern Samaria hilltop and legalize a yeshiva at the site, to replace an unauthorized modular seminary that exists there now.
Dimentman, 25, was not part of the Homesh settlement that the IDF evacuated in 2005 after the Gaza pullout, but as a young adult, he studied daily at the yeshiva that has existed at the site for the last 16 years.
“Yehuda’s blood is too precious. It is impossible to return to normal when the blood of one so pure is spilled,” she said as she spoke in a low voice and caressed her son’s face.
“I have only one hope and one request from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett: that Yehuda’s murder will not be in vain. I call on the prime minister to authorize the Homesh Yeshiva” and to rebuild the Homesh community, Ethia said.
“Bring us home. Take care of the boys [there] so that there will be no more widows like me and no more orphans like David,” Ethia said.
Yehuda’s father, Rabbi Mordechai, echoed her plea.
In the middle of the night, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) called him to report that the gunmen who killed his son had been captured.
He thanked them, noting that it was important for the larger deterrence and safety of the nation that they had been caught, but that it offered scant comfort to the family.
“What we want is that this community and this yeshiva will be authorized or we feel that this sacrifice was in vain,” Mordechai said.
Otherwise, “it will be a prize to terror” and inspire other such attacks, he added.He recalled how two hours after Yehuda’s burial on Friday, a new son was born to Yehuda’s brother.“This is very symbolic,” he added.
Mordechai explained that he had been the father of 12 children and now he has 11. All of those children who were sons served in elite IDF units and returned safely from Gaza, Lebanon, and the Golan.
Instead, it was Yehuda’s study at the Homesh Yeshiva, Mordechai said, that “brought us into the circle of bereaved families.”
“They [the Palestinians] wanted to chase us out of there,” Mordechai said, adding that “any retreat from Homesh will hurt him personally.”
‘Yehuda can’t be returned to us, but if we see that this tragedy will end” with a “flourishing yeshiva” at Homesh, “that will comfort us.”
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan has long battled for the government to rebuild the four Samaria settlements that the IDF destroyed in 2005 along with the evacuation of Gaza. Dagan himself is an evacuee from Sa-Nur. He sat with the family and echoed their call.