Sunset through the Ruins of Khirbet Shehadi

History of the area

Prior to the 1970s, Wadi Qana was home to about 50 Palestinian families, totalling a little over 300 people. The names of the villages there were Arab al Khouli, Khirbet Qana and Khirbet Shehadi. At this point in time, the entire population worked as farmers and pastoralists. The area remained peaceful during the Arab - Israeli War in 1948, although during the Jordanian annexation there was a small military base on of the overlooking ridges.

 

Problems for Wadi Qana started after the Six Day War in 1967, when the Israeli occupation began. The Israeli occupation initiated its colonization project in earnest in the early 1970s, and the first settlement in Wadi Qana, Qarne Shomron, was built in 1976.

 

In 1979, The Israeli military attempted to declare the 15,000 dunams, (3,700 acres) of land in Wadi Qana a closed military zone, in an attempt to force the Palestinian residents out. The villagers resisted, and the order was repealed, however the majority of the families left to the neighboring town of Deir Istiya. Many left to avoid harassment, others because their homes were destroyed in favour of new settlements.

 

Wadi Qana was declared an Israeli nature reserve in 1983, again in order to push the Palestinian population out. Under the Israeli Nature Reserve Authority, illegal settlements have been built on 'protected' land, olive trees have been uprooted by the thousands, and raw sewage has been pumped into springs and streams.

 

Today, the farmers who own Wadi Qana are pushing to save their water, land, and olive trees. In 2005 they were successful in forcing the settlers to stop pumping sewage aboveground, however this is but one necessary victory in the ongoing struggle to save Wadi Qana.