Settlers sully idyllic Wadi Qana

Wadi Qana

Wadi Qana is considered one of the most beautiful natural areas in the occupied West Bank.  It is an important nature reserve boasting both fauna and flora. With its numerous springs, the valley has historically served agricultural and recreational purposes for Palestinians who live in the area, mainly from the adjacent village of Deir Istiya in the northwestern region of the West Bank.

The growth of Israeli settlements brought dramatic changes, starting in the late 1970s. Until the 1990s, almost 50 Palestinian families, around 350 people, lived in the valley. They started to leave for Deir Istiya because of water pollution.

Israel declared Wadi Qana to be an Israeli nature reserve in 1983. They called it Nahal Qana Reserve, an area of nearly 3,500 acres, and placed it under the authority of four Israeli governing entities, including the settlement of Karnei Shomron and the Civil Administration, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation.

Palestinians, who have been working in the valley for generations, face increasing Israeli restrictions on their farming and grazing practices. Today, they cannot develop their infrastructure, except to tend some seasonal crops.  The construction of Israel’s wall poses a further threat to Palestinian farmers. According to UN maps, Wadi Qana will be left on the western side of the wall, and de facto annexed to Israel, separating landowners in Deir Istiya village from the valley.

Saed Zeadan, the head of Deir Istiya municipality, told The Electronic Intifada that he was worried about the future.  “For the wall as it is planned, I think this is going to happen: At the beginning, they will put a gate and a system of permits, then after some time, we will not be able to go [to our agricultural land].”

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