HCJ 9389/11 Burka council head Mr. Abed al-Fatah Salah v Commander of IDF forces in the West Bank

Homesh was an Israeli settlement established on the land of the Palestinian village Burka, northwest of Nablus, which was seized by the army in the 1970s for “security needs.” The settlement was evacuated in 2005 as part of Israel’s unilateral Disengagement Plan, however it was only in 2013 that the seizure orders for the land were revoked as a result of Yesh Din’s petition. This was unprecedented.

In 1978, the Civil Administration issued a military seizure order (T/4/78) for lands belonging to the village Burka. An IDF outpost was built there, but two years later, it became the Israeli settlement of Homesh. In practice, the land was never used for military purposes, and the State did not even allow its owners to return to their land after the Israeli settlement was evacuated following the Disengagement Plan, even though the army did not make use of the land.

In 2011, six years after the evacuation of Homesh, the Burka village council head and six other residents petitioned the HCJ with the assistance of Yesh Din, demanding the seizure order be revoked. As stated in the petition: “Once Homesh was evacuated, the area became a closed military area for Israeli citizens. The original necessity for which the seizure orders were issued in the first place is void ab initio, and was illegal to begin with, even by the HCJ’s ruling. However, instead of revoking the seizure orders, the respondents choose to continue to hold land seized for military purposes, without any military justifications – and certainly no imperative and urgent military needs – and to continue holding that land.”

In May 2013, prior to the petition hearing, the State announced it would revoke the seizure order. To the best of Yesh Din’s knowledge, this is a precedent for the State revoking a military seizure order for Palestinian land.

Despite the revocation, the State insisted on maintaining the order barring Palestinians from entering Homesh – although this settlement no longer exists. In September 2013, the State revoked this order as well. Since the Disengagement, the return to Homesh has become an explicit mission for right-wing bodies. There were efforts in 2015 to organize a rally there during Passover, but it was ultimately canceled following an urgent petition by Yesh Din.

Petition Status: In May 2013, the petition was dismissed as a result of the revocation of the seizure order.