Hundreds of settlers march to Homesh

Organizer: If thousands arrive, they will be "impossible" to evacuate.

homesh evac home 298 (photo credit: IDF)
homesh evac home 298
(photo credit: IDF)
Approximately 2,000 young men arrived at the site of the former northern Samaria settlement of Homesh on Monday to spend the night there in protest of the disengagement. If, as planned, thousands of settler activists arrive at the site, security forces would find it "impossible" to evacuate them, Boaz Ha'etzni, one of the organizers of the march to Homesh, said Monday. "The ball is in our court," Ha'etzni continued. "We've paved the way for the people - as long as they come, our dream will come true." Ha'etzni said that Homesh was the first settlement to be "reestablished" after disengagement in August 2005, and that others would follow, including the three other northern Samaria settlements dismantled during disengagement and the Gush Katif settlement bloc in the Gaza Strip.
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  • The bloodbath that wasn't (archive) According to Ha'etzni, if security forces did decide to evacuate the activists currently occupying the Homesh site, the settlers had been instructed not to resist violently, but rather to avoid being caught. "We're not the violent ones here. It's the police and the IDF - they're the ones who will set the tone," Ha'etzni warned. Currently, the IDF is not planning to evacuate Homesh until Monday night, or possibly Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, hundreds of settler youth continued to stream into Homesh, many wearing shirts bearing the slogan "Homesh - the beginning", and began climbing a local hill. Yedidia Lerner, who was evacuated from Homesh during disengagement, was a member of one of the first groups to reach the peak. "We are showing our determination," Lerner told Army Radio. "We won't leave voluntarily. We understand that this is a long-term struggle." Earlier Monday, Ha'etzni had told Army Radio that there was "no point" in stopping the march. "Infinite forces couldn't keep us from returning [to Homesh]," he said. "We're ready for that - we've brought our heads, so they can split them open." Turning to practical questions, Ha'etzni said that the road to Homesh was steep and marchers would not be able to carry supplies for more than 48 hours. "After [that], we'll supply people in a more orderly fashion. There is a core group of 30 families who intend to live there - all the rest are there to help and we hope that there will be more than 5,000 people," he said. A year since violent clashes left hundreds injured during the evacuation of Amona, right-wing activists and security forces were set to face off Monday as thousands of people were expected to try to reclaim the former settlement. The IDF and the organizers held round-the-clock negotiations Sunday night in an attempt to reach a compromise that would allow the activists to march to the former settlement - evacuated in 2005 under the disengagement plan - and possibly even spend the night there. "We are not interested in violence," explained a high-ranking officer from the Judea and Samaria District. "The plan is to let them climb the mountain and possibly spend the night and then return." Yossi Dagan, chief organizer of the march and a former resident of the settlement of Sa-Nur - which was evacuated alongside Homesh - denied that an agreement had been reached and said that the activists would not give up their efforts to rebuild the evacuated settlement. "We have not reached an agreement with anyone," Dagan said. "We plan to go there and rebuild our homes. If they try to remove us, they might succeed, but in the end we will rebuild Homesh and all the other places that were evacuated." Calling the organizers "extremists," Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Sunday that the government would not permit the "illegal takeover" of evacuated settlements. "We will not allow anyone to take over settlements," Peretz said during a tour of Gaza-belt communities in the South. He added that the IDF and Israel Police would deploy sufficient forces to prevent the activists from marching to the settlement.