Indictments dropped against Homesh settlers, but fate of evacuated communities still unclear

After repeal of Disengagement Law, authorities decline to prosecute visitors to Homesh for violating now-defunct policy barring Jews from the area.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Criminal indictments filed against settlers from Homesh for returning to the site of the evacuated Samarian community were recently dropped by the district court in Petah Tikvah, following the repeal of the 2006 Disengagement Law.

Rabbi Elishama Cohen, the head of the Homesh yeshiva, which was the site of repeated clashes and forced evacuation by the Israeli army, and other defendants were recently informed that the prosecution would not be moving forward with the charges against them, according Ynet reported.

Police and prosecutors argued that Cohen and other frequent visitors to Homesh were violating the Disengagement Law by simply being present at the site of the destroyed community.

But after the repeal of the policy, prosecuting Cohen and the others for the alleged offenses no longer made sense from a legal perspective.

Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s office said in a statement that the lawmaker welcomes the “court’s decision to cancel the indictments” and added that Jews should be “free to move about anywhere in the country.”

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“The indictment should not have been filed in the first place, and it is good that the court rejected it,” said Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, in a statement.

“There is nothing more valuable than breaking the racist law that discriminates and prohibits Jews from being in the [Judea and Samaria] region of Israel,” he said.

But the future of Homesh, along with other dismantled Jewish communities in the area including Sa-Nur, Ganim, and Kadim, remains uncertain, despite the end of the law barring Jews from living in those communities.

News of the cancellation of the law sparked international criticism, including Biden administration officials summoning the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. for a dressing-down over the repeal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that while the law had been officially repealed, there are no plans to allow for rebuilding of the dismantled communities, raising questions about the significance of canceling the policy.

“The decision by the Knesset to nullify parts of the Disengagement has brought an end to the law which discriminates against Jews living in parts of northern Samaria, a part of our historic homeland,” Netanyahu said in a media statement.

“With that, the government has no intention of establishing new communities in these areas,” he added.

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