Al Fara spring in Hizma once supplied clean domestic water to the neighbourhoods of Jerusalem back in the early 1930’s until 1970 following the Israeli control over the West Bank, provided local Palestinian farmers with enough water for 25,000 heads of sheep, with trees and banks that served as a site of relaxation and resort for thousands of Palestinian locals in the area. The site also includes the Haritoun Monastery which dates back to the fourth century.
Since 2000, the spring has been declared as an Israeli Nature Reserve, coupled with barriers and harassment of Palestinian residents the area is now under complete Israeli control. The nature reserve classification is used in this case to prevent Palestinians access to and use of their own land. It is easy for the casual tourist to pass by the ruined buildings, the rusting pipes and the small concrete dams without ever knowing that the legal owners of the site now struggle daily to get access to minimal water supplies.
Residents of settlements in the area enjoy the area as it were their own. Israeli groups tour the site with guides after which they enjoy a dip in the cisterns built by Palestinians for agricultural use. Mr. Al Khateeb the head of the Palestinian Village Council of Hizma recently guided Palestinian Hydrology Group staff through the springs. He and PHG staff were only allowed in after paying a fee to an armed Israeli civilian who took detailed notes of ID numbers. The asphalt road leading to the spring is not accessible, instead Palestinians have to make a long detour over dirt tracks to reach the entrance due to its proximity to an illegal Israeli settlement Anatot established on Palestinian land in 1982.