Israeli security forces on Sunday razed a number of structures set up on the illegal Homesh outpost in the aftermath of last week’s deadly terror attack nearby, Israeli officials said.
On Thursday night, Palestinian terrorists opened fire at a car full of students from the illegally constructed yeshiva, or religious school, at Homesh, killing one of them, Yehuda Dimentman, and wounding two more.
In response to the attack, on Saturday night, hundreds of settlers broke into the outpost, assaulting the soldiers who were guarding the area, and constructed a number of additional structures at the site, the Israel Defense Forces said.
“Troops from the IDF, Border Police, and Israel Police tried to block the entrance of the settlers, who used physical and verbal violence, vandalized military property and blocked the paths of security forces. In addition, an IDF soldier was lightly wounded after getting hit by one of the settler’s cars,” the military said in a statement on Sunday evening, nearly 24 hours after the events.
No arrests were made. A military spokesperson said the soldiers on the scene were waiting to police arrive so that they could make the arrests as the suspects are Israeli citizens. IDF troops are legally permitted, even required, to arrest suspects of violent crimes in the West Bank, regardless of nationality.
In its statement, the IDF said it denounced all forms of violence against security forces and would continue to “enforce laws and prevent illegal activities of all types.”
On Sunday morning, the IDF declared the site a closed military zone and representatives from the Defense Ministry’s Civil Authority, guarded by Israel Police officers, went up to the site and demolished the newly constructed plywood buildings, a spokesperson for Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians confirmed.
Video footage from Homesh, which was shared by far-right Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich, showed bulldozers demolishing some of the structures.
A spokesperson for the Civil Administration, which oversees day-to-day management of the West Bank, said that only the structures built over the weekend were destroyed, not the yeshiva building, which was left intact.
ממשלת השמאל הרופסת החליטה להעניק פרס לטרור והורתה לצה"ל ולמשטרה לחסל את הישיבה בחומש בתגובה לפיגוע שבו נרצח יהודה דימנטמן הי"ד. את בתי המחבלים הם לא הורסים אבל את הישיבה כן. הם יפגשו מולם אלפים ורבבות אוהבי הארץ נחושים שיאבקו בהחלטה האומללה הזו וינצחו אותם. כולנו נהיה שם. pic.twitter.com/drPQhmFE9j
— בצלאל סמוטריץ' (@bezalelsm) December 19, 2021
The spokesman refused to comment on the rationale behind the decision to leave up the yeshiva, which was not only constructed without the proper permits but was built on a site that it is illegal for Israelis to visit under the 2005 law behind the Disengagement, when Israel pulled out unilaterally from the Gaza Strip and four northern West Bank settlements.
In a tweet, Smotrich lambasted the government for the demolition, saying it was a “prize to terror.”
The demolition came as Dimentman’s family called for the government to legalize the Homesh outpost.
“I turn to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett — there is a yeshiva in Homesh, we need to legalize it and secure it. I turn to you and ask you to allow the people of Israel to go up there,” said his widow, Ettya Dimentman, in a direct appeal to the prime minister, a member of the right-wing Yamina party.
“The blood of Yehuda is too precious. It is impossible to return to routine after the blood of such a pure soul has been shed,” she said.
“Yesterday a friend of his showed me what he wrote six and a half years ago when asked what he would do if he only had one week to live, and Yehuda answered that he would study Torah in Homesh,” Ettya said at a press conference, hours after her husband’s suspected killers were arrested.
Yehuda’s father, Mordechai, thanked the security forces who captured his son’s suspected killers and said the arrests should act as a deterrence,. He also called for the outpost to be legalized.
“The terrorists need to know that they will be reached and this may deter them from committing the next murder. Thank you to the security forces and the Israeli government,” he said.
The father noted that in the opinion of the family, the resettlement of the outpost should be Yehuda’s legacy.
“This yeshiva will be legalized and the IDF will secure it. Otherwise we feel that this innocent victim’s death was in vain,” Mordechai said.
Two gunmen opened fire at Dimentman, a 25-year-old father of a 9-month-old, and two other men as they left Homesh on Thursday evening. A military official said their car was ambushed from the side of the road.
Six Palestinian men were arrested on Sunday morning in connection with the attack. According to the Shin Bet security service, the suspects belonged to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.