Activists Seek to Return and Rebuild Shomron Communities Destroyed by Sharon’s Expulsion

Chanukah: Returning Home to Sa-Nur, Ganim and Northern Gaza, by Hillel Fendel (Israel National News)

Scenes from Yishuv Chomesh before the expulsion

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The upcoming Chanukah holiday week will see at least three grass-roots initiatives to return home to communities destroyed in Ariel Sharon’s Disengagement scheme.

Sixteen months after having been evicted from their homes in Gaza and northern Shomron, many of the expellees are planning to light Chanukah candles this year in what they still view as their homes.

Limor Har-Melekh is among the organizers of the return to Chomesh in the northern Shomron. They plan to light Chanukah candles at the site on Monday night, the fourth night of the holiday. Three years ago, she was wounded by terrorists in the same attack in which her husband Sholom was murdered, and gave birth to a daughter the same day. Now remarried, she says, “Our goal is very clear. We will march towards Chomesh, regardless of what it takes. If we will have to clash with the army and the like, we will do it.”

At the same time, a group of families originally from Chomesh and Sa-Nur – two of the four Shomron communities unilaterally destroyed by the government last year – are planning to return permanently to Sa-Nur.

Limor explained to B’Sheva’s Hagit Rotenberg, “We want to help put Israel back on the right path – the path of our ties with the Land and our rights to it… and there are also security reasons: The army itself wanted to build a base in Sa-Nur because of its strategic importance. The head of the Shabak (General Security Service) warned that the area is becoming Jihad-land ever since the expulsion. If there is no civilian settlement presence in a place, the army, too, cannot last there.”

The media has an important role in the event, and will therefore be carefully screened beforehand. “The press has shown great interest in our plans,” Limor said, “but we have decided to choose only those reporters whom we trust to give fair coverage, based on our past experience. We notified them that we plan to be in touch only with certain reporters, and that if they don’t cooperate, we will cut off contacts with them as well.”

Click here for pictures of Chomesh before it was destroyed.

Ganim and Kadim, Too
Rotenberg reports on another northern-Shomron initiative for this Chanukah, by residents of the small, secular, now-destroyed twin communities of Kadim and Ganim, which were located north of Jenin. Former Ganim co-founder and resident Yishai Algon, now living in Eilat with no permanent home, job or compensation, says he longs every day for his life in Ganim.

He has organized a group of former residents of the towns who have asked the army for permission to conduct a Chanukah candle-lighting ceremony in their former homes. “I don’t believe there should be a problem,” he says optimistically, “because the area is still under Israeli control and the army is there frequently.” Algon says he hopes this will be the first step in a process leading the government to allow them to return home.

A third planned event will be a procession entitled “The Homeward Torch Journey.” It will pass through various temporary sites in which hundreds of expelled families are currently living, such as Bustan HaGalil in the Galilee, Ashkelon, Carmiyah and others, and will recess in Sderot. A convoy will then travel slightly westward, and begin walking by foot at a certain point towards what used to be Elei Sinai in northern Gaza. The candles will be lit either outside the area, or, if the army permits, within what used to be Elei Sinai.

Famous Gaza-evacuee Avi Farhan, who was also evacuated from his Sinai home in Yamit in 1982, is among the organizers. “The synagogue of Elei Sinai is still intact and stands only 50 meters from the fence,” he says. “If they want to, the army would have no problem providing protection for us and allowing us to light candles there.”

Farhan’s longer-range plans are more ambitious: “We want to go home. The government has not rehabilitated us. We are rolling around in rented apartments and temporary sites. The best solution is simply to let us go home and we ourselves will rebuild our destroyed homes.”


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