- Canada Park: An Example of Ethnic Cleansing -

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Index | Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine | The City of Jaffa | Violations of International Law
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One of Israel’s national parks and most popular leisure spots is Canada Park, located a few kilometers north-west of Jerusalem. Visitors enjoy its spectacular panoramas, woodland paths, mountain-bike trails, caves and idyllic picnic areas. 5 A series of signs describe the historical significance of the landscape, as well as that of a handful of ancient buildings, in terms of their Biblical, Roman, Hellenic and Ottoman pasts. What is not pointed out, is that the park was built on the remnants of 3 destroyed Palestinian villages. 1,2,4

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Above images of tourists enjoying Canada park. Center welcoming sign noting funding sources

Watch this 1991 Canadian produced video on Canada Park

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Villagers leaving Imwas in 1967

But Eitan Bronstein, director of Zochrot (Remembering, in Hebrew) says “In fact, though you would never realize it, none of this park is even in Israel. This is part of the West Bank captured by Israel during the 1967 war. But the presence of Palestinians here – and their expulsion – is entirely missing from the signs.”3

Over 10,000 Palestinians lived in 3 villages -- Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba. They all were expelled on June 7, 1967. Then the villages were then destroyed, 375 homes in Imwas, 539 homes in Yalu, 550 homes in Bayt Nuba. Schools, mosques, and stores were all bulldozed by the Israeli army. 2

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House bulldozed, Imwas 1967

Today, those expelled villagers and their descendants live as refugees, mostly in East Jerusalem and near Ramallah and Jordan. There are traces of a cemetery, as well as scattered rubble from the villages’ houses, a coffee shop, a church, two mosques and a school. 1,2,4

In place of the three villages, a park was created by an international Zionist organization, the Jewish National Fund, paid for with $15 million in charitable donations from Canadian Jews. Most of the Canadian donors have no idea they paid for a park and trees in the occupied West Bank. 5

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Destroyed Imwas, 1967

One Israeli soldier, Amos Kenan (see copy of his article Here), was so upset with what happened, he published an account of the operations. 6

“The commander of my platoon said that it had been decided to blow up the three villages in the sector -Yalou, Beit Nuba and Amwas -- for reasons of strategy, tactics, security. One may argue with this idiotic approach, which advocates collective punishment and is based on the belief that if the infiltrator loses one house, he will not find another from which to wait in ambush. One may argue with the effectiveness of increasing the number of our enemies -but why argue?

We were also told to take up positions around the approaches to the villages, in order to prevent those villagers who had heard the Israeli assurances over the radio that they could return to their homes in peace -from returning to their homes. The order was -shoot over their heads and tell them there is no access to the village.

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Imwas in 1958, before destruction

Houses stand in an orchard of olives, apricots and grapevines; there are also cypresses and other trees grown for their beauty and the shade they give. Each tree stands in its carefully watered bed. Between the trees, lie neatly hoed and weeded rows of vegetables.

At noon the first bulldozer arrived, and plowed under the house closest to the village edge. With one sweep of the bulldozer, the cypresses and the olive-trees were uprooted. Ten more minutes pass and the house, with its meager furnishings and belongings, has become a mass of rubble. After three houses had been mowed down, the first convoy of refugees arrives, from the direction of Ramallah.

We did not shoot into the air. We did take up positions for coverage, and those of us who spoke Arabic went up to them to give them the orders. There were old men hardly able to walk, old women mumbling to themselves, babies in their mother's arms, small children, small children weeping, begging for water. The convoy waved white flags. We told them to move on…... They said that wherever they went, they were driven away, that nowhere were they allowed to stay. They said they had been on the way for four days now -without food or water; some had perished on the way.
They asked only to be allowed back into their own village; and said we would do better to kill them. Some had brought with them a goat, a sheep, a camel or a donkey. A father crunched grains of wheat in his hand to soften them so that his four children might have something to eat.

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Same area as above: Imwas, 1968 after destruction.

On the horizon, we spotted the next line approaching. One man was carrying a 5O-kilogram sack of flour on his back, and that was how he had walked mile after mile. More old men, more women, more babies. They flopped down exhausted at the spot where they were told to sit. Some had brought along a cow or two, or a calf -all their earthly possessions. We did not allow them…..into the village to pick up their belongings, for the order was that they must not be allowed to see their homes being destroyed. The children wept, and some of the soldiers wept too. We went to look for water but found none.

More and more lines of refugees kept arriving. By this time there must have been hundreds of them. Like lost sheep they went on wandering along the roads. The exhausted we're rescuing. The weak die. Towards evening we learned that we had been told a falsehood –

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Same area as two photos above. Imwas, 1978

The soldiers grumbled. The villagers clenched their teeth as they watched the bulldozer mow down trees.
Most of... the battalion did not want to do the job. ….No one could understand how Jews could do such a thing. The fields were turned to desolation before our eyes, and the children who dragged themselves along the road that day, weeping bitterly, will be the Fedayeen of 19 years hence.

That is how that day, we lost the victory.”

Sources

1.http://www.alhaq.org/pdfs/The%20Palestinian%20Villages%20of%20Latroun%2040%20Years%20After%201967.pdf

2.http://www.caabu.org/key_issues/40_years_of_occupation/canada_park/

3.http://www.zochrot.org/images/latrun_booklet_englishsupplement.pdf

4.http://www.caiaweb.org/files/UriDavis-CanadaPark.pdf

5.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_Park

6.http://www.palestineremembered.com/al-Ramla/Imwas/Story260.html#REPORT%20ON%20THE%20RAZING%20OF%20EMMAUS, %20BElT%20NUBA%20AND%20YALOU%20IN%20196