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The Jerusalem International Airport, the oldest airport in Palestine, formerly known as Qalandia Airport, lies on a road connecting the cities of Ramallah and Jerusalem, near the town of Qalandia in the northern West Bank. It was built in 1920 during the British mandate on a land of 650 dunams (160 acres) initially. More than 50 years later, this very airport has turned into an abandoned site devoid of any luggage, planes or flight attendants. The cracks inside the concrete floor of the airport are now covered with dry and green grass.
Israel seized the airport after it occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, and it annexed it in 1981 based on the so-called Jerusalem Law. Israeli airlines used it for commercial and domestic flights to and from Jerusalem until they closed it in 2000. Its name was changed to the Atarot Airport, of which only the runway, the control tower and the arrival and departure hall remain.
Khalil Tufakji, head of the map department at Jerusalem’s Arab Studies Society, told Al-Monitor,
“The largest Israeli settlement project that has been underway for several years now in Jerusalem seeks to seize and confiscate 1,300 dunams [321 acres] of the Jerusalem International Airport and the lands surrounding it. It aims at implementing Israel’s Greater Jerusalem project to expand the existing Israeli settlements and expel Palestinians to increase the number of Jews and settlers in the city of Jerusalem.”
“Since 1994, the Israeli authorities have set up the Greater Jerusalem project, which includes, according to Israeli plans, the settlements of Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev and Gush Etzion. They have also controlled all roads leading thereto in order to cut off Palestinian neighborhoods from the Jerusalem municipality, such as Shuafat, Kafr Aqab and Anata, among others.”
“The Israeli seizure of the Jerusalem International Airport primarily aims at killing the Palestinians’ dream of their capital — Jerusalem — given that the airport is located on lands belonging to the Palestinian capital.