The history of Ush Ghurab is as old as the history of Palestine itself and includes all the trials and tribulations of the occupation of this sacred land. However, the story of Ush Ghurab is a bright star of hope and peace in a land ravaged by uncertainty, bloodshed and war.
The name Ush Ghurab means "crow's nest", symbolic of the area's ecological and agricultural richness. Ush Ghurab itself is a small area comprised of approximately 97 dunams (0.1 km²) located on the eastern borders of Beit Sahour Municipality in the Bethlehem Governorate. Historically the site was used by various occupying governments as a military base: first by the British during the Palestinian Mandate from 1920 to 1948, by Jordan from 1948 until 1967 and finally by the Israelis from 1948 until today.
As shown in the above photos, the Israeli military vehicle and bulldozer demolishing the land and putting a military watch tower to protect the military base camp as such actions have included soil damaging, trees uprooting, lands confiscating and destroying the wild life in that area through solid wastes dumping and land demolishing.
Regardless of this political hindrance, and to keep supporting the ecotourism the current Municipal administration seized the opportunity to develop Ush Ghurab for the benefit of the local community as well as the tourism sector. In cooperation with many local organizations that included schools, non-governmental organizations, private businesses and international donors, a series of renovation and rehabilitation projects were carried out in Ush Ghurab.
Ecotourism is of a high importance to the city of the shepherds as it is connected ot the city’s history and topography. Attracting tourists who look for environmental encounter and wild life adventures as well as mountain hiking is also in the touristic plan of our city, as Ush Ghurab is a living example of the Municipality’s countless attempts to make Ush Ghurab a safe place for kids through having the playgrounds needed, as well as providing family atmospheres and touristic attraction for this public park.
From an eco-touristic approach, the Municipality of Beit Sahour has rehabilitated, redesigned and refined Ush Ghurab to make it environmentally healthy, suitable and safe for kids to play. From a larger environmental approach, the Palestinian wild life society in cooperation with the Municipality of Beit Sahour has started constructing a small local educational zoo that aims not only to preserve the wild life and protect it but also to provide a source of education for schools and all those who seek it.
On April 8, 2008, a group of Israeli extreme right-wing activists from “Har Homa revivals”, in Jerusalem, and the Regional Council settlers in Gush Etzion settlement, declared their intention to establish a new settlement bloc in ‘Osh Ghrab, east of Beit Sahour city, on the ruins of an Israeli military base that was evacuated east of the city. On April 27, 2006, on a Thursday morning, the Israeli occupation army had completely and suddenly evacuated the Israeli military outpost, locally known as “’Osh Ghrab” or “Schedma” as is called by the Israelis, and moved to the Israeli camp located in Al Furdeis area “Herodion,” south-east of the city.
During the past years, the extreme right-wing Jewish groups organized a series of weekly demonstrations starting from the date of the military base evacuation until the date of this report in order to protest against the Israeli Government's decision to vacate this military site. Their goal is to restore and preserve the area so as not to be handed over to the Palestinians. Among those extremist groups were “women in green” and the “Jewish Committee to defend Schedma.” These groups also called for the establishment of a Jewish outpost in the region in order to link the Israeli settlements east of Beit Sahour city (Al David, Tekoa, Nokdim, and Ma'ale Amos settlements) with Jabal Abu Ghneim settlement (Har Homa) north of Beit Sahour city and the Israeli settlements west of the city (Gush Etzion settlements bloc and the settlements inside the Green Line).
On February 10, 2010, the Israeli bulldozers, guarded by the occupation forces, began razing Palestinian lands in ‘Osh Ghrab region for the establishment of an Israeli military tower in order to prevent actions such as throwing stones at army patrols, according to the allegations of Israeli occupation forces located in the area. The Israeli occupation forces have declared ‘Osh Ghrab as “closed military area” and have prevented journalists, photographers, and the city residents from being there so as to facilitate the task of Israeli bulldozers to establish a supervision tower.
Ush Ghurab area is located east of Beit Sahour city, on top of a spacious mountain that is spread out over dozens of dunums of open lands. ‘Osh Ghrab is bordered by Palestinian urban areas belonging to Beit Sahour city and Beit Ta’mir village, to the west, north, and south, and it is bordered by Za'tara bypass road to the east. During the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip in 1967, ‘Osh Ghrab was used as a military headquarters during the British Mandate, and then was used by the Jordanian army, until it was occupied by the Israeli army in 1967, who expanded it at the expense of the city and citizens’ territories. Following the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000, the site became the headquarters for heavy military vehicles and a starting point for military operations launched by the Israeli army in the governorate.