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Thousands rally against razing of illegal outpost where terror victim studied

Protesters flock to Homesh following end of the traditional mourning period for Yehuda Dimentman, who was killed in a shooting attack last week

Israelis demonstrate at Homesh in the northern West Bank, on December 23, 2021, calling on the government not to demolish the outpost after a yeshiva student there was killed in a shooting attack. (Screenshot/Twitter)
Israelis demonstrate at Homesh in the northern West Bank, on December 23, 2021, calling on the government not to demolish the outpost after a yeshiva student there was killed in a shooting attack. (Screenshot/Twitter)

Several thousand Israelis demonstrated in the northern West Bank on Thursday, calling on the government not to demolish a yeshiva at an illegal settlement outpost after a man who studied there was killed in a terror shooting.

Crowds estimated at 5,000-15,000 people made their way to Homesh to join Yehuda Dimentman’s wife and father as they finished the traditional mourning period for him, a week after he was shot dead on his way back home from the settlement.

Among the demonstrators were Shas MK Moshe Arbel and several lawmakers from the far-right Religious Zionism party.

Some of the protesters arrived on convoys of buses from around the country, while others arrived on foot, making the journey from the Shavei Shomron settlement where Dimentman lived.

Ahead of the protest, the Israel Defense Forces closed the road between Shavei Shomron and Homesh, blocking off entry to two Palestinian villages, the Haaretz news site reported.

Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli troops manning a roadblock at the village of Burqa, and at least part of the rally took place on private Palestinian property, the Yesh Din rights group said.

Protesters were filmed rejoicing as they entered the Homesh outpost, dancing and singing a song quoting biblical verses about the vengeance brought by Samson on the Philistines.

On Thursday evening, a group of settlers attacked Palestinian homes in the village of Burqa, near the rally.

The attackers went into the village after dark, “attacked residents’ homes” and smashed gravestones in a cemetery, the left-wing Yesh Din group said.

At least one person was injured and taken to a hospital for treatment.

The rally comes days after Dimentman’s widow urged Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to prevent the yeshiva’s demolition.

Ettya Dimentman sent a letter to Bennett on Monday urging that the Homesh yeshiva not be demolished, but rather made legal and permitted to flourish.

“Don’t finish what the terrorists started, don’t destroy what we have built at Homesh,” she wrote.

Yehuda Dimentman. (Courtesy)

Last Thursday night, Palestinian terrorists opened fire at a car of students from the illegally constructed yeshiva, or religious school, at Homesh, killing Yehuda Dimentman and wounding two others.

In response to the attack, on Saturday night, hundreds of settlers broke into the outpost, assaulted the soldiers who were guarding the area, and constructed a number of additional structures at the site, the Israel Defense Forces said.

On Sunday morning the Defense Ministry’s Civil Authority, guarded by Israel Police officers, demolished the newly constructed plywood buildings. 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.

Israeli security forces demolish illegally constructed buildings on the Homesh outpost, which were set up following a deadly terror attack nearby, on December 19, 2021. (Screenshot/Twitter)

However, the yeshiva, which has been tacitly operating for 15 years, was also constructed without the proper permits and 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 including Homesh.

In response to the Sunday demolitions, the Homesh yeshiva said in a statement that “Yehudah’s blood has not yet been absorbed by the ground and already security forces are sent with the purpose of destroying the place and the structures set up in his memory.”

The removal of the structures, the statement said, “is a prize for terrorism” and “the Israeli government is doing” what the terrorists did not manage to achieve.

Family and friends attend a funeral service for Yehuda Dimentman, in Homesh, in the West Bank, on December 17, 2021. Dimentman was shot dead in a terrorist attack near Homesh the night before. (Flash90)

The yeshiva urged that it be legalized and permitted to continue as it had in the past.

Overnight Saturday, security forces arrested six Palestinian suspects in connection with the shooting attack. Two are believed to have carried out the shooting and the other four are suspected of assisting them.

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