The park is North of Highway 1 (Tel Aviv-Jerusalem), between the Latrun Interchange and Sha'ar HaGai, and contains a Hasmonean fort, Crusader fort, and other archaeological remains, picnic areas, springs and panoramic hilltop views. The park attracts some 300,000 visitors annually. The park is located on the lands of three Palestinian West Bank villages, partly on land that Israel claims to have annexed.[disputed ]
After the capture, in 1967 during the Six-Day War, Israel annexed the former no-man's land around Latrun and arguably, unofficially annexed the remainder the Latrun salient. The four Palestinian Arab villages there were razed on the orders of Israeli general Yitzhak Rabin, 7,000–10,000 inhabitants were expelled and 1,464 homes demolished. Canada Park was established on the lands of the two Palestinian Arab villages Imwas and Yalo. The inhabitants were offered compensation but not allowed to return. Imwas, Yalo and Bayt Nuba were demolished as part of strategic plans to widen the Jerusalem corridor. Dayr Ayyub, also on the grounds of the park, had been partly destroyed during the fighting in 1948 and never rebuilt. The settlement of Mevo Horon was built on the lands of Bayt Nuba in 1970.
In 1972, Bernard Bloomfield of Montreal, then President of JNF Canada, spearheaded a campaign among the Canadian Jewish community to raise $15 million for the park's establishment. The road leading to the park is named for John Diefenbaker, the former Canadian prime minister, who opened it in 1975. The project was completed in 1984. JNF Canada continues to fund the upkeep of the park through donations received for this purpose.
Residents' request to return
In 1976, Palestinian residents of Imwas, Yalo and Beit Nouba wrote to the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin asking for what they described as their "legitimate humanitarian right to return to the villages from which we were driven and expelled" in order to rebuild their houses without requesting compensation from Israel. They did not receive a reply. In 2007, the Israeli NGO Zochrot wrote to Israel's minister of defense, Ehud Barak, on behalf of the residents to ask why they could not return to their homes. In 2008, the minister's office informed them that "The return of the village inhabitants [was] not allowed for security considerations".
Canada Park covers an area of 7,000 dunams. It is filled with wooded areas, walking trails, water features and archaeological sites. Trees in the park include olive, carob, pomegranate, pine and almond. The area is also home to a range of wildlife from lizards and turtles to gray ravens and blue jays. Historical ruins on the grounds of the park include a Roman bathhouse, a Hasmonean cemetery, and a Crusader fortress (Castellum Arnaldi). Two Second Temple-era ritual baths were also discovered there. At the foot of one of the hills that overlooks the city of Modi'in is a large reservoir built by the Jewish National Fund for irrigating local fields.
In the middle of the park is a forest planted to commemorate over 300 American and Canadian Jews who died in Israel's wars or were victims of terror. An annual memorial ceremony is organized by the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI). In 2001, the ceremony was attended by the US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro.
- Remembering the Americans and Canadians who Fell
- First autumn crocus blooms in Canada Park
- Official description of the Park's attractions
- Canada Park – an Israeli haven for picnickers, hikers, cyclists
- Ted Swedenburg (2003). Memories of Revolt: The 1936-1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past. University of Arkansas Press. pp. 61–. ISBN 978-1-55728-763-2.
- Keinon, H. "Palestinians campaign to regain 'occupied' Latrun". Jerusalem Post.
Israel annexed the Latrun salient, through which part of the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway runs, soon after the Six Day War...
- Al-Haq Legal Brief
- Segev, Tom (2007). 1967: Israel, the War and the Year That Transformed the Middle East, Metropolitan Books, pp. 307-410.
- Oren, 2002, p. 307.
- Falah, Ghazi-Walid (2004). "War, Peace and Land Seizure in Palestine's Border Area". Third World Quarterly 25: 955–975. doi:10.1080/0143659042000232054. Retrieved 2014-04-21.
- Right of Remembrance, Haaretz
- Morris, 2004, p. xx, village #337.
- Columbo, 2001, p. 133
- Amira Hess (2011). "11. Between Two Returns". In Marianne Hirsch, Nancy K. Miller. Rites of Return. Columbia University Press. pp. 181–182. ISBN 978-0231150903.
- Coussin, Orna. "Splendor on the grass". Israel: Haaretz. Retrieved 2008-07-19.
- Winter, 2000, p. 591.
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