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Knesset panel backs bill to cancel Gaza disengagement law

The legislation would restore freedom of movement to Israelis in the four northern Samaria communities that were razed in 2005.

Visitors walk by the water tower in the ruins of the former community of Homesh, Aug. 27, 2019. Photo by Hillel Maeir/Flash90.
Visitors walk by the water tower in the ruins of the former community of Homesh, Aug. 27, 2019. Photo by Hillel Maeir/Flash90.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted on Sunday to provide government backing for a bill in the Knesset that would rescind the 2005 Disengagement Law for northern Samaria.

The Disengagement Law led to the destruction and evacuation of four Jewish communities in northern Samaria—Sa-Nur, Homesh, Ganim and Kadim—and 21 in the Gaza Strip.

The proposed law would restore freedom of movement to Israelis in the four northern communities, which had been razed.

“This is the start of bringing justice and correcting a historical injustice. I expect the law to be completely repealed. This is a struggle we have been waging for 18 years and we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, said in a statement.

“The deportees of Homesh, Sa-Nur—heroes who are standing with us as the tip of the spear in this struggle—will yet see recompense for their actions. The residents of the communities of Ganim, Kadim, Homesh and Sa-Nur will return within their borders,” he added, referencing Jeremiah 31:15-16.

Shlomo Ne’eman, head of the Yesha Council, said, “The disengagement law is a black mark in the law book of the State of Israel and nothing less than a mark of disgrace on the Israeli legal system that allowed this to happen without hesitation.

“That abominable plan uprooted us from our land, brought us missiles and the threat of missiles into the heart of the country until these days,” he added.

“In northern Samaria, the IDF controls the area, and the Homesh Yeshiva and its students have been fiercely defending the area for 16 years. There is no reason why civilians should not be able to fill the void and remove this apartheid from this region of land,” Ne’eman said.

The proposed law was backed by Ministerial Committee Chairman and Minister of Justice Yariv Levin of Likud and initiated by MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) and Minister of National Missions Orit Strock (Religious Zionism).

During the disengagement in the summer of 2005, Israel evacuated its entire civilian and military presence from the Gaza Strip. While the four civilian communities in northern Samaria were also dismantled shortly thereafter, the military presence remained intact, with the areas designated closed military zones.

A game of cat and mouse since then has taken place between the IDF and former residents and supporters, particularly at Homesh where a yeshiva has operated inside caravans and tents. Troops have several times dismantled the yeshiva over the years.

The coalition agreement between Likud and the Religious Zionism Party, led by Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich, requires the government to reverse parts of the disengagement and allow for the Homesh Yeshiva to remain as a first step towards rebuilding the four communities.

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