April 23, 2024

For an Israeli settlement that has become such a resounding symbol of religious and right-wing politics in the West Bank, Homesh is not much to look at.

Three families live in tarpaulin-covered shelters full of bunk beds for some 50 young men, who study in a yeshiva that is a shabby prefab structure surrounded by abandoned toys, building materials and garbage.

They live part time here amid the ruins and rubbish of a hilltop settlement ripped down in 2005 by the Israeli army and police. It is one of four West Bank settlements dismantled when Israel pulled all of its troops and settlements out of Gaza. Israel’s intention then, pushed by Washington, was to signal that outlying settlements too hard to defend would be consolidated in any future peace deal.

The decision to dismantle them is now being challenged by the more religious and right-wing ministers in the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. They are agitating to settle more land in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and even remove Palestinians from Gaza to resettle there.

Homesh, perched in the hills above Nablus, has become a symbol of their resolve.

Early last year, the Israeli government decided to relegalize Homesh, but the Supreme Court then required the government to dismantle it once more and ensure that Palestinians who own the land on which it sits can reach it safely.

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