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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Revenants demonstrate peacefully at Homesh

With the government saying that the IDF will not embark on a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip despite the rocket and mortar attacks launched on Israel on Independence Day, and instead will make due with a 'targeted' response, the IDF turned its efforts today on hundreds of teenaged revenants heading for the town of Homesh in Samaria. As you may recall, the Jews of Homesh were expelled from their home by the Sharon-Olmert-Peres government in the late summer of 2005. Fortunately, this time, cooler heads prevailed than was the case at Amona, and despite 'banning' the rally it had earlier permitted a few days ago, the IDF allowed revenants to proceed to Homesh on foot (but not by car) where a relatively peaceful rally took place. The revenants are now in the process of leaving, although this is taking longer than expected, because the IDF has not let any buses through to collect them and it is dark now in Israel.
Several thousand settlers attended the Independence Day ceremony in the Homesh area calling for a return to former settlements in the northern West Bank.


The organizers of the ceremony instructed participants not to clash with security forces and pledged that they would all leave the area at nightfall.

The IDF originally approved the march last week, but then rescinded the authorization, saying that "anyone attempting to enter or inhabit the area will be breaking the law."

However, the organizers of the event declared on Sunday that the march would go ahead as planned.


Right-wing organizations called on people on Monday to participate in the event, and said that Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Israel Aumann would lead the protesters.

Most of the activists arrived at midday, and picnics, barbecues and other events were set to continue until evening.
One of the things I hope - probably in vein - that the Winograd Commission will highlight in its report is the direct correlation between wasting the IDF's time running after 'settlers' and the lack of preparedness for last summer's hostilities with Hamas and Hezbullah. For too long, the government has used the IDF as its auxiliary police force - and not just against the 'Palestinians' as the government would like you to believe.

Update 2:25 PM (Boston time)

Arutz Sheva is reporting that some 30,000 people(!) attended the march.
IDF soldiers at checkpoints along the way are making no attempt, as of Tuesday evening, to stop the marchers, saying they are there to secure the area, protect the marchers from Arabs from local villages, and to prevent activists from using side trails off the main road. Arutz-7 correspondent Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu described the march as quiet and calm, with the atmosphere between the soldiers and marchers as "very relaxed." Another source, who spoke as he was climbing up the hill close to Homesh, also reported the event as "calm, definitely."

At the head of the main organized group of marchers, which set off at 11:00 am from a nearby town [I assume Shavei Shomron. CiJ], was Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Yisrael Aumann. The world-renowned professor of game theory stated in recent days that he sees a return to Homesh as "signaling the imperative change of direction the state needs. The march to Homesh expresses very well the aspiration to be a free people in our land." Prof. Aumann addressed the gathered activists, as did the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Rabbi Dov Lior.

According to Tzafrir Ronen, among the march organizers, the turnout was far beyond what the Homesh First umbrella group had planned on. "We prepared for about 3,000 people, and there are more than 30,000 here," Ronen said. Eyewitnesses said the total number number of marchers on the road numbered between seven and ten thousand.

Dozens of hired buses, including some organized without the help or knowledge of the march organizers, brought supporters of Homesh resettlement from all over the country. The Likud movement also formally joined in on the Homesh march during Tuesday morning. Four buses hired by the Likud party brought activists to the area.

Most of marchers are teenagers and people under the age of 30, many pushing strollers with toddlers and babies, although some are middle-aged and older. "I've seen some grandfathers climbing up the hill," said eyewitness Jonathan Stein. Several thousand people had reached the ruins of Homesh by early afternoon, Stein reported. Commenting on the determination of all of the participants to complete the hike, organizer Ronen said, "I have been to all the battles and all the demonstrations - I have never seen anything like this."

The participants are varied and represent "all types - religious, secular, Haredi, old people and young," according to Ronen. "They are all streaming towards Homesh in an unbelievable flow. The police was unable to cope and simply folded up its tent and left the area. Of four or five jeeps, there remains one, [whose occupants] have nothing to do but have a friendly chat with the marchers. Determination has proven itself. It is also clear to the police that this place is ours...."
Let's hope that twenty times this number of people (that's what it will take) come out to topple the Olmert-Peretz-Livni government after the Winograd Commission report comes out and that the IDF can go back to defending the country and stop wasting its time trying to block children from going on a hike.


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