Har Homa - History

History

In the 1940s a Jewish group purchased 130 dunams (32 acres) of land on the hill between Jerusalem and Bethlehem known in Arabic as Jabal Abu Ghneim, Arabic: جبل أبو غنيم‎, translit).

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the hill was a base for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, a position taken over by Jordan's Arab Legion. The Hebrew name "Har Homa" refers to a wall built on the remains of a Byzantine church on the mountain which was visible to Palmach forces stationed at Kibbutz Ramat Rahel. Following the war, the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property planted a pine forest there to prevent misuse of the land by local Jordanian residents. Since 1967, the forest has been maintained by the Jewish National Fund.

Plans for residential development were drawn up in the 1980s, but were opposed by Israeli environmental groups working to preserve the open areas in Jerusalem. In 1991, Israeli Cabinet Minister Yitzhak Moda'i approved expropriation of land on the forested hill for a new building project. Prime Minister Shimon Peres initially approved construction plans for Jewish homes on the site, but postponed the groundbreaking ceremony to avoid conflict with Palestinians who were seeking to overturn the decision in the Israeli courts. Construction began only in March 1997, during the administration of Benjamin Netanyahu, who saw the construction of homes in Har Homa as a legitimate expansion of Jerusalem.

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