Twenty Israeli families — parents, children and young couples — entered the evacuated settlement of Sa-Nur in the northern West Bank during the night between Monday and Tuesday. The group did not coordinate its move with the military, and Israel Defense Forces arrived later to inform them that they were trespassing.
The Sa-Nur settlement was evacuated and demolished in 2005, alongside three other settlements in the northern West Bank — Homesh, Gamin and Kadim. Twenty-one communities in the Gaza Strip were also evacuated and demolished. The overall evacuation was part of the Gaza disengagement plan championed by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The Disengagement Plan Implementation Law, adopted at the time by the Knesset to enable the unilateral Israeli move, makes the presence of Israeli civilians on the ruins of the four settlements illegal. Still, ever since the disengagement, families who were evacuated from the four West Bank settlements together with other right-wing activists have been campaigning for resettling and have even attempted to come back there on several occasions.
In 2015, for instance, some 200 activists entered Sa-Nur to mark the 10th anniversary of its evacuation. Israeli security forces removed them. Unlike Sa-Nur, settlers have managed to maintain some continuous presence at neighboring Homesh. Young settlers who live in the Shavei Shomron settlement are ascending the Homesh hilltop almost daily to form a yeshiva.
The group that sneaked back to Sa-Nur last night was made up of former residents of Sa-Nur and Homesh and was accompanied by Likud Knesset member Ariel Kelner. "We have reached Sa-Nur; this settlement will be built and established. This settlement must be built. The Disengagement Law is a disgrace. It is an anti-Semitic law that prohibits Jews from living in the Land of Israel, and it must be erased from the book of laws of the State of Israel," said Kelner.
Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council and a former resident of Sa-Nur, praised the operation and called on the government to allow the resettling. He argued, "A return to the northern Samaria settlements of Ganim, Kadim, Homesh and Sa-Nur is the right thing to do, as it is clear that there is no person left in the State of Israel who believes that this displacement was correct."
The move comes at a particularly sensitive time, shortly after the victory of Joe Biden in the US presidential elections and two days before the visit in Israel of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Even before arriving, the expected visit has raised the wrath of the Palestinians. They condemn Pompeo’s intention of visiting the West bank settlement Psagot settlement winery.