The entrance to “Canada Park” in the Occupied West Bank. The park was built to cover up the remains of 3 Palestinian villages bulldozed by the Israeli army in 1967. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, that is a war crime. And the City of Ottawa appears to be complicit. Read why.
Did you know that there is a “Canada Park” inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories? It is a lovely place to walk around and have a picnic. Thousands of Israelis do just that every year. But the park has a dark past. Until 1967, it was the site of 3 Palestinian farming villages, Imwas, Beit Nuba, and Jalu, with a total population of about 10,000. In June 1967 (the so-called “6 day war”), Israeli Defence Forces attacked the defenceless villages and drove the unarmed villagers out. The residents had to flee for their lives. Many walked on foot to Ramallah, more than 60 kilometres away. . The CBC television program “the Fifth Estate” aired an excellent documentary devoted to the Canada Park scandal in 1991. Twenty five years later the park is still there.
What happened to the Abughosh family – see my interview
Heidar Abughosh was 14 years old when he and his family had to flee for their lives in the middle of the night to a local monastery. Here he explains to me what happened. “We still hope we can come back and live together with our neighbours like any other people”, he says.
Two months after the end of the war, Israeli bulldozers destroyed the 3 villages, and their remains were hidden by landscaping a park over the area, largely using funds solicited from Canadian sources by the Jewish National Fund of Canada. Most of the contributors were Canadian (hence “Canada Park”). But astoundingly, the City of Ottawa also seems to have made a contribution, since the city’s name figures prominently amongst the list of donors listed at the park.
The Jewish National Fund of Canada solicited hundreds of individual donors for the park. However, the City of Ottawa appears to be the only municipality. Its not clear whether taxpayer funds were used or whether the JNF is illegally using Ottawa’s name.
But why is this a war crime?
According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, an occupying power is forbidden from destroying the homes and property of the occupied people except for military reasons. It is hard to imagine a military rationae for the destruction of 3 villages a month after the fighting had ended, when Israel had already completed its take over of the West Bank. That would seem to make this a war crime. Building a park on top of the villages would appear to be providing assistance in covering up the war crime. The City of Ottawa, if it provided taxpayers funds for this project, would appear to be linked to a crime of war
What to do?
Were City of Ottawa taxpayer funds used to contribute to this project? If so, it is a shameful act. But whether or not that is the case, The City of Ottawa should dissociate itself from this potentially criminal project by:
- demanding that the JNF remove the City of Ottawa name from the plaques at the entrance to the park.
- apologising to the Palestinian residents of the 3 towns, some of whom are now Canadian citizens