Located northeast of occupied Jerusalem, ‘Anata is surrounded by a-Nabi Moussa to the east and Hizma, Jaba' and Deir Dibwan to the north, Shu'fat to the west and aIssawiyh to the south. After 1967, the Israeli occupation confiscated almost all of ‘Anata’s lands. According to the local council only 1877 dunums remain in residents’ hands. 957 are classified as Area B territory and 220 as Area C with an additional 700 dunums of ‘Anata's lands declared a closed military zone by the Israeli occupation authorities.3
Named after the Canaanite Goddess Anat, the Virgin Goddess of War and Strife, and sister of Ba'al Haddad, ‘Anata originally covered an area of 32-35,000 dunums. Stretching from the outskirts of Jerusalem down into the valleys near Jericho.4 It was once the largest village in the West Bank. Over time it became an important commercial hub and bustling centre in the Jerusalem governorate connecting Jerusalem and its northern suburbs. ‘Anata was allegedly the site of Anathoth, mentioned in the Old Testament, where King Solomon hunted. This has made the village a destination for archaeologists who came to explore its sites and the Wadi (valley), once the Roman road to Jericho. It is home to the Monastery of St George, or Deir al-Qilt in Arabic, a Greek Orthodox convent built in the late fifth century AD.
In 1948, the area fell under Jordanian rule before being occupied by Israel in 1967. Parts of ‘Anata, namely the Dahyat a-Salam neighbourhood, are under the control of the Jerusalem occupation municipality.
Similar to other Palestinian Jerusalem communities, it is hard to find accurate and up to date data about the population in ‘Anata. According to IMC, most ‘Anata residents hold Palestinian Authority ‘green’ identity cards, while 5000 residents living in Dahyat a-Salam neighbourhood hold Jerusalem IDs.5 Villagers of 'Anata are deprived of entering Dahyat a-Salam because it was included within the borders of Jerusalem municipality including those who married people living in Dahyat a-Salam.6
A field survey conducted by ARIJ in 2011 showed that the distribution of labour forces by economic activity in 'Anata is as follows:7
- Trade sector (28%)
- Industry (20%)
- Israeli labour market (20%)
- Government or Private Employees Sector (14%)
- Services (14%)
- Agriculture Sector (4%)
Few villages epitomise the extent to which the Israeli occupation has so flagrantly reshaped the landscape of Palestine as ‘Anata. ‘Anata's older generation still remembers the village as the largest in the area. Part of ‘Anata's significance stemmed from the fact that Ein Fara, Anata's water spring, once generously supplied the neighbouring villages with water.8 Ein Fara, which leads to the beautiful Wadi al-Qilt, is not the only water spring that exists on the village's land. Other springs include Ein Fawar and Rawabi. The path towards Wadi al-Qilt, which starts from ‘Anata, is speckled with springs and green bushes, making the wadi an oasis in the harsh deserts cape. The cave formation and shelters scattered across the wadi were densely populated with monks during the monastic movement in the Byzantine Period.9
The beautiful landscape, rich history and strategic importance of ‘Anata have been trampled upon by the rapid Israeli colonial expansion, land theft and the Annexation Wall.
‘Anata's local council was established in 1996 in an attempt to grapple with the challenges imposed by the Israeli occupation, develop the village economically and improve its infrastructure. For women in the village, the situation is doubly difficult. Not only do they suffer the brazen abuses perpetrated by the occupation, they have little representation or participation in the political life of the community. This led to the establishment of the Sabaya Centre, a women centre in the village in 2005. The centre strives to improve the conditions of women in the village, eliminate violence against women, and foster women's participation in decision making, planning, resource distribution and cultural and social activities. A small victory was won when, for the first time in 2005, a woman from the village was named as a member of the local council.10
Land confiscation, Housing Demolitions and the Annexation Wall
According to the Oslo Accords signed in 1995, 3.8% of ‘Anata’s lands (918 dunums) were assigned as Area B, where the PA has control over civil matters but Israel controls security issues. The remaining 96.2% (21,108 dunums) were assigned as Area C, under full Israeli administrative and security control.11 This means in order to receive a building permit Palestinians are forced to apply to the Israeli military; these permits are systematically denied.
During the late 1970s through the 1980s and early 1990s, settlements and military zones have sprung up to the immediate east of the village on the stolen lands. In 1979 Kfar Adumim settlement was constructed on 433 dunums of land confiscated from east ‘Anata. In 1981, another 656 dunums was confiscated to build an army camp immediately east the village. More land was confiscated to expand this camp later. In 1983, 298 dunums were taken to build the Almon settlement. In 1991, 125 dunums were stolen to build the Alon settlement, also located east of the village. Later, 4000 dunums were confiscated around Kfar Adumim and Alon to establish “security areas.” Two new bypass roads were constructed on confiscated lands from the village.12
Today there are over 200 homes in ‘Anata slated for demolition. Most of these homes belonging to the Jahalin Bedouin tribe were built in the 1950’s and are not officially recognized by the State of Israel.13 The land confiscation also means the growing population lives on a dwindling area, causing massive overcrowding.14
Infrastructure, water and open spaces
The strategic and systematic neglect of ‘Anata’s infrastructure by the Jerusalem occupation municipality has created a dire situation.15 An area once known for its fresh water spring, called Ein Fara, now has frequent water outages. The most recent outage was in March of 2014 when the residents went without water for over 20 days.16 Ein Fara was appropriated by settlers in the Anatot colony who turned the spring into a nature reserve. Today, Palestinians who want to ‘visit’ - never mind use it - pay 30 shekels ($7) to enter the reserve..
Water shortages are not the only infrastructural problems facing ‘Anata. Many residents are not connected to proper sewages systems and the Jerusalem occupation municipality recently denied permission to the community to build a landfill.17 Instead, there is a plan proposed by the municipality to construct a landfill - exclusively for ‘construction waste’ - on lands belonging to ‘Anata and al-Eisawiyah. For the communities, the plan will be disastrous. The health consequences of building a landfill in a dense urban zone are evident, and the environmental effects are clear, however the scheme has even more insidious goals. The proposed landfill site will connect the area of E1 and Maaleh Adumim colony to Jerusalem.18
Freedom of movement
Adding to the complexity of ‘Anata's situation is that while the vast majority of the village lies in Areas B and C, Ras Khamis, Ras Shihadeh, and Dahiat a-Salam are under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem occupation municipality. This creates several problems for Palestinians and continues to tear apart social fabric of the community. Residents of ‘Anata with West Bank IDs who live in the neighbourhoods under Jerusalem’s jurisdiction are considered aliens in their own village even if they have families, partners and children there. This severely disrupts normal family life and social bonds that have always characterised the village.19