Yeshivat Homesh indictments canceled

Yeshivat Homesh, rabbis and students; Photo credit: Yeshivat Homesh

Wednesday, April 19, 2023, 8:14 Approximately one month ago, the Knesset repealed the Disengagement Law. This week, at the request of the Prosecution Department of the Yehuda and Shomron Police, the Petah Tikva Magistrates Court ordered the cancelation of a series of indictments served to Yeshivat Homesh Head Rabbi Elishema Cohen, other rabbis from the yeshiva, and several students. They were charged with violating the Disengagement Law. The cases will be closed because of the lack of criminal guilt.

Shomron Regional Council Head Yossi Degan welcomed the closing of the cases and said, “From the start, the Yeshivat Homesh students should not have been indicted. There is nothing more ethical and moral than violating the racist and discriminatory law forbidding Jews to be in any area of the Land of Israel. The indictments added insult to injury. I welcome the decision to cancel them. We will not be silent until Homesh and Sa-Nur become permanent communities in the Shomron Regional Council. I am pleased that the prosecution and also the court understand that being at these sites is no longer a violation of the law but the rectification of a terrible injustice.”

The indictments were served during the past few years by the Ariel branch of the Yehuda and Shomron Police’s Prosecution Department, charging the students and rabbis who entered Homesh with violating the Disengagement Law: “Entry to/presence in the restricted area without a permit according to Section 27 (a)(1) of the Disengagement Plan Implementation Law 5765/2005.”

Honenu Attorney Moshe Poleski, who is representing the rabbis and students of Yeshivat Homesh, stated in response, “I congratulate the students of Yeshivat Homesh and their rabbis, who persisted for many years despite the repeated harassment by the authorities, including the Israel Police, who under the direction of the State Attorney’s Office and through the Prosecution Department, attempted to harm the yeshiva operating in Homesh. Many students made great sacrifices to study Torah and settle the Land of Israel under extremely difficult conditions.

“For many years, Honenu has supported Yeshivat Homesh and its rabbis with legal help at the many instances of the site’s destruction, police detentions, and interrogations. Honenu also assisted the rabbis and students in long, drawn-out cases. Thank G-d, after being confronted with legal tactics that prolonged the legal proceedings, none of the yeshiva’s rabbis or students were hurt.

“Until today, I congratulated the rabbis and students with the words said to Rabbi Akiva, ‘Happy are you who were apprehended for learning Torah,’ [Berachot 61b]. Now that the Disengagement Law has been repealed, all the sanctions against them have also been canceled, as have the charges against them for staying at the site. The moral of the story is that no damage is caused by a great sacrifice to learn Torah and settle the Land of Israel. Honenu congratulates the rabbis and students of Yeshivat Homesh. We hope that the yeshiva and the community will flourish and strengthen our hold on the site of destruction by the Israeli government and the expulsion of its residents almost 18 years ago. With hopes and wishes for renewed communities in the northern Shomron; ‘Baruch matziv gevul almana’ [Blessed are You… who establishes the border of the widow―blessing recited over new or rebuilt communities in the Land of Israel],” added Poleski.

Yeshivat Homesh administrator Shmuel Wende added, “We are pleased that the State of Israel has begun rectifying the sin of the Expulsion by repealing the Disengagement Law. Thank G-d, we merited the cancelation of the indictments against those who fulfilled the commandment of settling the Land of Israel in Homesh, may it be rebuilt speedily in our days. Alongside the joy over the repeal of the Disengagement Law, we still expect the official status of the yeshiva to be resolved soon. We will continue to raise the Israeli flag over Homesh until the official status of the yeshiva is resolved and the community of Homesh is actually rebuilt.”

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