Israeli officials acknowledge that some Palestinian land was expropriated for the Har Homa neighborhood, but nearly 80 percent of the land taken for the project belonged to Jews. According to another source, 75% of the land was expropriated from Israelis. No homeowners, Jewish or Arab, were displaced by the project. Israel says Har Homa is within the city limits of Jerusalem and most of the land was owned by Jews prior to its conquest by Jordan in 1948. Furthermore, the land was unoccupied and undeveloped prior to the current construction; both Jewish and Arab landholders were compensated for the land; and residents of Beit Sahour would not be able to develop the land in any event as the Oslo agreements specifically barred Palestinian jurisdiction over Jerusalem for the time being.
Residents of Beit Sahour, in conjunction with Israeli peace activists, campaigned against the decision to build Har Homa neighborhood, setting up what they called an "international peace camp" at the site.
Most of the residents of Har Homa today are young families who moved there in search of affordable housing. When the Jerusalem Municipality approved the initial 2,500 housing units in Har Homa, it also approved 3,000 housing units and 400 government financed housing units in the Arab neighborhood of Sur Baher, which faces Har Homa. The plans were drawn up in 1994, but the approval process was stepped up in May 1997 as a counterbalance to Jewish development at Har Homa Palestinian officials dismissed the project as a ploy aimed at deflecting international criticism.
After failing to stop the development of the site, the residents of Beit Sahour have petitioned Israel's Supreme Court to return the undeveloped land between Beit Sahour and Har Homa to the Palestinian municipality, and to move the security fence to reflect their ownership of this land.
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.
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.
As of 2008, there were approximately 4,000 families in Har Homa. The neighborhood has 12 kindergartens, 6 day care centers, 2 elementary schools, 3 medical clinics, and 3 shopping centers. Egged bus lines connect Har Homa to downtown Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, the Malha Mall and Ramot.
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Har Homa Jerusalem
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Har Homa (lit Mountain Wall) is a neighborhood in southeastern Jerusalem near Beit Sahour.Built on land annexed by the Jerusalem municipality after the 1967 Six-Day War, it is considered an Israeli settlement, although Israel disputes this.
The neighborhood was officially renamed Homat Shmuel after Shmuel Meir, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, who played an active role in its development before he was killed in a car accident in 1998.
Har Homa History
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Fully illustrated, colorful and attractive, and includes the weekly Torah portions and the Haftarot readings (weekly readings from the Writings and the Prophets).
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God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
The Illustrated Torah - Chumash (Five Books of Moses)
Har Homa Controversy