The Israeli occupation's greed goes further with more Palestinian lands and sites stolen in Occupied Jerusalem. Judaization operations are in full swing in an attempt to alter the holy city's identity taking advantage of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The Israeli occupation authorities are planning to take control of Ain al-Haniya, which is located in al-Walaja village south of Occupied Jerusalem, and the surrounding lands to turn them into an Israeli national park.
Ain al-Haniya is one of the most important water springs in Jerusalem which flows from a rocky cave that is linked to a set of underground water channels which lead to many of the city's small waterfalls.
Member of al-Walaja village council Omar Hajajleh said that Ain al-Haniya is located in a Palestinian area occupied since 1967. "We used to visit it every now and then for recreation," he added, "But after the separation wall was built around al-Walaja, taking a long bypass road became the only way to reach Ain al-Haniya."
Hajajleh told a news agency reporter, that the Israeli authorities intend to move al-Walaja military checkpoint to another location two kilometers away from the current one, which would deny the West Bank Palestinians access to the water spring. He noted that the authorities are also preparing for a national park project in the area.
History and Future
Ain al-Haniya is everything to the people of al-Walaja. It is their past, present and future. They always say, "You are never a Walaja resident until you drink from Ain al-Haniya."
Hajajleh explained that the new checkpoint will prevent the people of al-Walaja from reaching hundreds of dunums of their lands which are planted with olive and almond trees.
Ain al-Haniya is also special for the Christian community there. Some monks perform their prayers near the water spring on a regular basis.
History says that the late Palestinian archaeologist Dimitri Baramki discovered during excavations he conducted in 1930s the remains of a church, water canals, ponds and mosaic floors near Ain al-Haniya.
Israeli settlement practices
Peace Now movement said that the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality is investing thousands of shekels to establish a checkpoint that prevents Palestinians from reaching Ain al-Haniya and turn it into a recreational place for Israelis only.
Peace Now pointed out that in 2010, the Israeli occupation authorities completed the construction of the separation wall around al-Walaja village and isolated it from Ain al-Haniya and about 250 dunums of its agricultural lands.
In 2013, Plan 12222 was approved, whereby the area surrounding Ain al-Haniya will be transformed into a national park. The Israeli government later invested millions of shekels in cooperation with the Jerusalem Development Authority to renovate the water spring.
Following the renovation operation, it was decided to relocate the military checkpoint, so that the Palestinians no longer could reach Ain al-Haniya.
On 12th February 2018, the so-called Security Committee of the Israeli war ministry approved the transfer of the checkpoint for "security purposes", but the real plan is to make Ain al-Haniya a purely Israeli site.
Israel's Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze'ev Elkin wrote this openly on his Facebook page, "Presently our goal is to move the police checkpoint into the park to make it accessible to all residents of Jerusalem (Israelis)."
Peace Now affirmed that the infrastructure work has been completed for the new checkpoint.