The Homesh yeshiva was relocated overnight Sunday to a new, permanent location, days after the Israel Defense Forces revoked a military order preventing Israelis from residing in the area.
Before dawn on Monday, yeshiva students and volunteers moved the school several hundred meters off of disputed land.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan marked the occasion by affixing a mezuzah to the entrance of the yeshiva’s study hall.
“This is a historic moment, a step toward rectifying the terrible injustice of the expulsion from Samaria. We have been working day and night to rectify the injustice against not only those displaced, but the entire people of Israel,” said Dagan.
“Two months ago, the Knesset correctly removed the Mark of Cain of the expulsion from Israeli laws. We will also reach Ganim, Kadim and Sa-Nur,” he added.
The 2005 Gaza disengagement led to the evacuation and destruction of Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim and Kadim in Samaria, as well as 21 communities in the Gaza Strip.
In March, the Knesset repealed articles of the 2005 law banning Israelis from entering and residing in the four Samaria communities, and in May IDF Central Command head Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs signed an order allowing Israelis to reenter Homesh.
Yesha Council chief and Gush Etzion Regional Council Mayor Shlomo Neeman on Monday hailed the “emotional” move and praised the government.
“This is a historic and emotional morning for all the people of Israel. After almost 18 years since the terrible expulsion, this morning, the students of the yeshiva finally got to recite the blessing of the return [to the land of Israel],” said Neeman.
“We thank Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for his firm stance on the side of justice, Yossi Dagan, who worked tirelessly throughout the years, and we congratulate the yeshiva students, their rabbis and the general public, who fought for the continuation of a Jewish presence in northern Samaria,” he added.
Washington ‘deeply troubled’
The United States last week harshly criticized Jerusalem’s decision to walk back the legislation barring Israelis from entering Homesh.
“We are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s order that allows its citizens to establish a permanent presence in the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank, which according to Israeli law was illegally built on private Palestinian land,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
“Advancing Israeli settlements in the West Bank is an obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution,” he added.
IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch told JNS earlier this month that the government’s move was a “good start” but did not go far enough.
“The 2005 so-called Israeli ‘disengagement’ from Gaza and parts of northern Samaria played into the territorial aspirations of the Palestinian Authority—to create ever-increasing Arab-dominated territories that are entirely ‘Judenfrei,’” said Hirsch, who served for 20 years in the IDF Military Advocate General’s Corps.
“Revoking the Israeli legislation that facilitated this fundamentally racist practice is a good start, but it is not sufficient. This government should make all the preparations necessary not only to repeal racist laws but to also ensure the application of Israeli law throughout Judea and Samaria. Israel holds the sole sovereign title to these areas, and the full incorporation of these areas into Israel is now 56 years late,” he added.