Bayt Nattif or Beit Nattif (Arabic: بيت نتّيف, Hebrew: בית נטיף and בית נתיף alternatively) was a Palestinian Arab village, located some 20 kilometers (straight line distance) southwest of Jerusalem, midway on the ancient Roman road between Beit Guvrin and Jerusalem, and 21 km northwest of Hebron.
The village lay nestled on a hilltop, surrounded by olive groves and almonds, with woodlands of oak and carobs overlooking Wadi es-Sunt (the Elah Valley) to its south. It contained several shrines, including a notable one dedicated to al-Shaykh Ibrahim. Roughly a dozen khirbas lay in the vicinity.
Bayt Nattif 1948
|Etymology: The house of Nettif|
|Geopolitical entity||Mandatory Palestine|
|Date of depopulation||October 21, 1948|
|Cause(s) of depopulation||Military assault by Yishuv forces|
|Current Localities||Netiv HaLamed-Heh, Aviezer, Neve Michael|
The city had been assigned the status of toparchy, one of eleven toparchies or prefectures in Judaea given certain administrative responsibilities, known in classical sources by the name Betholetepha.
According to Josephus, the city was sacked under Vespasian and Titus, during the first Jewish uprising against Rome. During the 12th year of the reign of Nero, when the Roman army had suffered a great defeat under Cestius Gallus, with more than five-thousand foot soldiers killed, the people of the surrounding countryside feared reprisals from the Roman army and made haste to appoint generals and to fortify their cities. Generals were at that time appointed for Idumea, namely, over the entire region immediately south and south-west of Jerusalem, and which incorporated within it the towns of Bethletephon, Betaris, Kefar Tobah, Adurim, and Maresha. This region was called Idumea by the Romans on account of it being inhabited largely by the descendants of Esau (Edom) who became proselytes to Judaism during the time of John Hyrcanus.
In 1596, Bayt Nattif was listed among villages belonging to the nahiya Quds, in the administrative district Liwā` of Jerusalem, in a tax ledger of the "countries of Syria" (wilāyat aš-Šām) and which lands were then under Ottoman rule. During that year, Bayt Nattif was inhabited by 94 households and 10 bachelors, all Muslim. The Ottoman authority levied a 33.3% taxation on agricultural products produced by the villagers (primarily on wheat, barley, olives, sesame seeds and grapes, among other fruits), besides a marriage tax and supplement tax on goats and beehives. Total revenues accruing from the village of Bayt Nattif for that year amounted to 12,000 akçe.
In 1838 Edward Robinson visited, and remarks that their party was very well received by the villagers. He further noted that the villagers belonged to the "Keis" faction. By the mid-19th century, a rift had divided families in the region over control of the district Bani Hasan, until at length it broke out into actual fighting between the Keis (Qays) faction, on the one side, and the Yaman faction, on the other. Meron Benvenisti, writing of this period, says that Sheikh 'Utham al-Lahham waged "a bloody war against Sheikh Mustafa Abu Ghosh, whose capital and fortified seat was in the village of Suba." In 1855, Mohammad Atallah in Bayt Nattif, a cousin of 'Utham al-Lahham, contested his rule over the region. In order to win support from Abu Ghosh, Mohammad Atallah gave his allegiance to the Yaman faction. This is said to have enraged 'Utham al-Lahham. He raised a fighting force and fell on Bayt Nattif on 3 January 1855. The village lost 21 dead. According to an eyewitness description by the horrified British consul, James Finn, their corpses were terribly mutilated.
In 1863 Victor Guérin visited twice. The first time he visited he estimated that the village contained about one thousand inhabitants. He further noted that the houses were crudely built, one of them, which was assigned to the reception of foreigners, the al-Medhafeh, was a square tower. Above the entrance of the al-Medhafeh was a large block for lintel, featuring elegant mouldings, Guérin assumed it came from an ancient destroyed monument. Many other ancient stones were embedded here and there in private homes. Two wells, several cisterns and a number of silos and stores carved in the rock, and in continued use, were also ancient.
Socin, citing an official Ottoman village list compiled around 1870, noted that Bayt Nattif had 66 houses and a population of 231, though the population count included men only. Hartmann found that Bayt Nattif had 120 houses.
In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Bayt Nattif as being "a village of fair size, standing high on a flat-topped ridge between two broad valleys. On the south, about 400 feet below, is a spring (`Ain el Kezbeh), and on the north a rock-cut tomb was found. There are fine olive-groves round the place, and the open valleys are very fertile in corn."
Around 1896 the population of Bayt Nattif was estimated to be about 672 persons.
For all practical purposes, the British inherited from their Turkish counterparts the existing laws in regard to land tenures as defined in the Ottoman Land Code, to which laws there was later added subsidiary legislation. At the time of the British occupation the land tax was collected at the rate of 12 1/2 per cent. of the gross yield of the land. Crops were assessed on the threshing floor or in the field and the tithe was collected from the cultivators. In 1925, additional legislation provided that taxation on crops and other produce not exceed 10%. In 1928, as a measure of reform, the Mandate Government of Palestine began to apply an Ordinance for the "Commutation of Tithes," this tax in effect being a fixed aggregate amount paid annually. It was related to the average amount of tithe (tax) that had been paid by the village during the four years immediately preceding the application of the Ordinance to it.
In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Bayt Nattif had a population of 1,112, all Muslims, increasing in the 1931 census to 1,649, still all Muslim, in a total of 329 houses (which figure includes houses built in the nearby ruin, Khirbet Umm al-Ra’us).
In 1934, Dimitri Baramki of the Mandate Department of Antiquities directed the excavation of two cisterns in the village of Bayt Nattif which produced mostly ceramic ware dating from between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE.
By the 1945 statistics, the population had increased to 2,150 Muslims. In 1944/45, a total of 20,149 dunums were allocated to cereal grains in the adjacent lowlands; 688 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards, while 162 dunams were built-up (urban) areas.
As hostilities broke out in the wake of the publication of the plan, Yohanan Reiner and Fritz Eisenstadt, military advisors of David Ben-Gurion proposed, on December 18, 1947, that any Arab attack be met with a decisive blow, consisting of the "destruction of the place or chasing out the inhabitants and taking their place." Such proposals were mulled and shelved - one participant likening such proposals to the destruction of Lidice - but in January 1948, a Jerusalem District HQ document entitled "Lines of Planning for Area Campaigns for the Month of February 1948," foresaw taking steps to secure the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv route. In this document one measure consisted of "the destruction of villages or objects dominating our settlements or threatening our lines of transportation," and among the objectives of the plan the destruction of the southern bloc of Beit Nattif was envisaged.
The official Jewish account (The "History of Haganah") alleges that the village of Bayt Nattif took part in the killing of thirty-five Jewish fighters (see the Convoy of 35, the "Lamed-Heh") who were en route with supplies to the besieged block of kibbutzim of Gush Etzion, on January 16, 1948. However, reports from the New York Times correspondent indicate that the convoy took a wrong turn, and ended up in Surif. The Arab version is that the convoy had attacked Surif deliberately, and had held it for an hour before being driven out. After this, the Haganah mounted a "punitive" attack on Bayt Nattif, Dayr Aban and Az-Zakariyya. In late January 1948, the Haganah's Jerusalem HQ suggested "the destruction of the southern block of Bayt Nattif" in order to secure transportation along the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem highway.
The Israeli Air Force bombed the area of Bayt Nattif on October 19, 1948, which started panic flights from Bayt Nattif and Bayt Jibrin. Bayt Nattif was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War on October 21, 1948 under Operation Ha-Har, by the Fourth Battalion of the Har'el Brigade. There are conflicting reports about its conquest, one Palmah report says that the villagers "fled for their lives", while a Haganah report says that the village was occupied "after some light resistance."
During late 1948, the IDF continued to destroy conquered Arab villages, in order to block the villagers return. Among these destroyed villages was Bayt Nattif which, based on Jewish sources, was completely destroyed as a punitive measure for the village's involvement in the detection and massacre of the Convoy of the thirty-five. There are also conflicting reports about which other villages were destroyed with it; one report says that Dayr Aban was destroyed with it, while another report says that Dayr al-Hawa was destroyed with it.
On 5 November, the Harel Brigade raided the area south of Bayt Nattif, driving out any Palestinian refugee they could find.
Netiv HaLamed-Heh was built on village land in 1949, while Aviezer and Neve Michael were built on village land in 1958. After the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, the ruin of Bayt Nattif remained under Israeli control under the terms of the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan, until such time that the agreement was dissolved in 1967.
Today, the land whereon was once built Bayt Nattif comprises what is now called The Forest of the Thirty-Five (Hebrew: יַעֲר הַל"ה) and is maintained by the Jewish National Fund. Erik Ader, former Dutch ambassador to Norway, whose father Bastiaan Jan Ader is memorialized in the forest as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for saving 200 Jews from the Holocaust, has asked that his father's name be removed as a protest against what Ader called "the ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians. In response, the Jewish National Fund expressed its respect for the actions of Ader’s parents, stating that the monument was legally constructed on state-owned lands.
Based upon archaeological finds that were discovered in Bayt Nattif, the city was still an important site in the Late Roman period. The place was now inhabited by Roman citizens and veterans, who settled the region as part of the Romanization process that took place in the rural areas of Judaea after the Bar Kokhba revolt.
In 2013, archaeological survey-excavations of Bayt Nattif were conducted by Yitzhak Paz and Elena Kogan-Zahavi on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and by Boaz Gross on behalf of Tel-Aviv University's Institute of Archaeology. In 2014, eight separate surveys were conducted on the site.
The "Beit Nattif lamp" is a type of ceramic oil lamp that was recovered during the archaeological excavation of two cisterns at the site. Some of them were decorated with a depiction of the Temple Menorah. Based on the discovery of unused oil lamps and molds, it is believed that during the late Roman or Byzantine period the village manufactured pottery, possibly selling its wares in Jerusalem and Beit Guvrin. During a 2014 dig at Khirbet Shumeila, 1 km north of Beit Nattif, stone molds for 3rd-4th century "Beit Nattif lamps" were found within the remains of a large villa.
Aviezer (Hebrew: אֲבִיעֶזֶר) is a small religious moshav in central Israel. Located nine kilometres south-west of Beit Shemesh, at the east end of the Elah valley, it falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Yehuda Regional Council. In 2018 it had a population of 865.Bayt 'Itab
Bayt ʿIṭāb (Arabic: بيت عطاب) was a Palestinian Arab village located in the Jerusalem Subdistrict. The village is believed to have been inhabited since biblical times. An ancient tunnel which led to the village spring is associated with story of Samson. Both during and after its incorporation into Crusader fiefdoms in the 12th century, its population was Arab. Sheikhs from the Lahham family clan, who were associated with the Qays tribo-political faction, ruled the village during Ottoman era. In the 19th century, this clan controlled 24 villages in the vicinity. The homes were built of stone. The local farmers cultivated cereals, fruit trees and olive groves and some engaged in livestock breeding.
After a military assault on Bayt ʿIṭāb by Israeli forces in October 1948, the village was depopulated and demolished. Many of the villagers had fled to refugee camps in the West Bank less than 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the village. In 1950, an Israeli moshav, Nes Harim, was established north of the built up portion of Bayt 'Itab, on an adjacent peak.Beit Jimal
Beit Jimal (or Beit Jamal; Hebrew: בית ג'מאל; Arabic: بيت جمال / الحكمة) is a Catholic monastery run by Salesian priests and brothers near Beit Shemesh, Israel. The Christian tradition identifies the site with the Roman- and Byzantine-era Jewish village of Caphargamala (כפר גמלא), and believe that a cave there is the tomb of St. Stephen or to have conserved his relics.Beit Shemesh
Beit Shemesh (Hebrew: בֵּית שֶׁמֶשׁ, Latin: Bethsames, Beth Shamesh, Bethshamesh or Bet shemesh and most often Beth-Shemesh in English translations of the Hebrew Bible) is a city located approximately 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of Jerusalem in Israel's Jerusalem District, with a population of 118,676 in 2018. The history of Beit Shemesh goes back to pre-biblical times. The modern city of Beit Shemesh was founded in 1950.Chezib of Judah
Chezib, also known as Achziv of Judah (Hebrew: אכזיב; כזיב), is a biblical place-name associated with the birth of Judah's son, Shelah (Genesis 38:5), corresponding to the Achziv of the Book of Joshua (15:44), a town located in the low-lying hills of the plain of Judah, known as the Shefela. In I Chronicles 4:22, the town is rendered as Chozeba. The place is now a ruin.Gedera
Gedera, or Gdera (Hebrew: גְּדֵרָה), is a town in the Central District of Israel founded in 1884. It is 13 kilometres (8 miles) south of Rehovot.
In 2018, it had a population of 28,092.Hebron Subdistrict, Mandatory Palestine
The Hebron Subdistrict was one of the subdistricts of Mandatory Palestine. It was located around the city of Hebron. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the subdistrict disintegrated.Jab'a
Jab'a (Arabic: الجبعة) is a Palestinian village in the central West Bank, located 17 kilometers north of Hebron and 15 kilometers southwest of Bethlehem. Located three kilometers east of the Green Line, it is located in the Seam Zone, surrounded by the Israeli settlements in the Gush Etzion Regional Council and the Israeli West Bank barrier. Nearby Palestinian towns and villages include Surif adjacent to the Jaba'a, Wadi Fukin and Nahalin to the north. It is the northernmost locality in the Hebron Governorate. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Jab'a had a population of approximately 896 in 2007. Jab'a has a total land area of 10,099 dunams, of which 1,002 dunams as built-up area.Jarmuth
Jarmuth was the name of two cities in the land of Canaan.The one was an Amorite city in Canaan at the time of the Israelite settlement recorded in the Hebrew Bible. According to Joshua 10:3-5, its king, Piram, was one of five kings who formed an alliance to attack Gibeon in response to Gibeon's tolerance of the Israelite settlement under Joshua. This Jarmuth is generally identified a modern site variously called Tel Jarmuth, Khirbet el-Yarmûk, or Tel Yarmut. This site is located on the south of Beit Shemesh, near Bayt Nattif, and is now a National Park. The Park spans over an area of 267 dunams (nearly 66 acres).
Another Jarmuth became a Levitical city given to the Gershonites within the territory of the Tribe of Issachar, according to Joshua 21:20. Jarmuth is not mentioned in the parallel list of Levitical cities in 1 Chronicles 6), but Ramoth is mentioned in its place (1 Chronicles 6:73). The site of the Issacharian Jarmuth is not yet known.The Douai-Rheims version of the Bible has an alternative spelling, Jaramoth.Kharas
Kharas (Arabic: خاراس) is a Palestinian town in the southern State of Palestine, located twelve kilometers northwest of Hebron, part of the Hebron Governorate. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of 6,665 inhabitants in 2007. It is situated at the northern mouth of the Wadi ’Arab near the ruins of 'Elah. Nearby towns include Nuba and Beit Ula to the south, Surif to the north and Halhul to the east. It has a total land area of 6,781 dunams.Khirbet et-Tibbaneh
Khirbet et-Tibbâneh (Hurvat Tibneh / Kh. Tibna)(Arabic: خربة التبانة), sometimes referred to by historical geographers as the Timnah of Judah (Hebrew: תמנה), is a small ruin situated on a high ridge in the Judaean mountains, in the Sansan Nature Reserve, 622 metres (2,041 ft) above sea level, about 3 kilometers east of Aviezer and ca. 7 kilometers southeast of Bayt Nattif. The site is thought to have formerly borne the name Timnath, distinct from the Tel Batash-Timnah site associated with the biblical story of Samson in the lower foothills of Judea along the Sorek valley. Kh. et-Tibbaneh (Timnah) is perched upon a high mountain ridge rising up from the Elah valley and is where the episode of Judah and Tamar is thought to have taken place.List of Arab towns and villages depopulated during the 1948 Palestinian exodus
Around 400 Arab towns and villages were depopulated during the 1948 Palestinian exodus. Some places were entirely destroyed and left uninhabitable; others were left with a few hundred residents and were repopulated by Jewish immigrants, then renamed.
Those areas that became a part of Israel and had at least a partial Arab population consisted of approximately 100 villages and two towns. Arabs remained in small numbers in some of the cities (Haifa, Jaffa and Acre); and Jerusalem was divided between Jordan and Israel. Around 30,000 Palestinians remained in Jerusalem in what became the Arab part of it (East Jerusalem). In addition, some 30,000 non-Jewish refugees relocated to East Jerusalem, while 5,000 Jewish refugees moved from the Old City to West Jerusalem on the Israeli side. An overwhelming number of the Arab residents, and other non-Jews such as Greeks and Armenians, who had lived in the cities that became a part of Israel and were renamed (Acre, Haifa, Safad, Tiberias, Ashkelon, Beersheba, Jaffa and Beisan) fled or were expelled. Most of the Palestinians who remain there are internally displaced people from the villages nearby.There are more than 120 "village memorial books" documenting the history of the depopulated Palestinian villages. These books are based on accounts given by villagers. Rochelle A. Davis has described the authors as seeking "to pass on information about their villages and their values to coming generations".The towns and villages listed below are arranged according to the subdistricts of Mandatory Palestine they were situated in.Maqam (shrine)
A Maqām (Arabic: مقام) is a shrine built on the site associated with a Muslim saint or religious figure, usually his or her tomb. It is a funeral construction, usually small, cubic-shaped and topped with a dome.
The maqams of Palestine were considered highly significant to the field of biblical archaeology, as their names were used in the 18th and 19th centuries to identify much of biblical geography. According to Claude Reignier Conder's description in 1877, the Palestinian locals attached "more importance to the favour and protection of the village Mukam than to Allah himself, or to Mohammed his prophet".Netiv HaLamed-Heh
Netiv HaLamed-Heh (Hebrew: נְתִיב הַל"ה, lit. Path of the 35) is a kibbutz in central Israel. Located in the Valley of Elah, it falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Yehuda Regional Council. In 2018 it had a population of 631.Neve Michael
Neve Michael (Hebrew: נְוֵה מִיכָאֵל, lit. Michael's Haven) is a moshav in central Israel. Located in the Adullam region and built upon an eminence in the far south-east end of the Elah Valley, close to where the historic fight between David and Goliath took place, it falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Yehuda Regional Council. In 2018 it had a population of 832.Operation Ha-Har
Operation Ha-Har (Hebrew: ההר, The Mountain), or Operation El Ha-Har, was an Israeli Defence Forces campaign against villages southwest of Jerusalem launched at the end of October 1948.
The Operation lasted from 19 to 24 October and was carried out by troops from the Harel and Etzioni Brigades. The villages were defended by units from the Egyptian army and local militias. By the end of the campaign over a dozen villages had been captured. It coincided with Operation Yoav which attacked Egyptian positions further south.Sanaa Shaalan
Sanaa Shalan is a Jordanian contemporary writer, from the Arab novelty generation. She writes novels, short stories, theater, scenario and children's literature. She holds a doctorate degree in modern literature. Shalan works as an instructor at the University of Jordan.
She is of Palestinian origins. Her family came from Bayt Nattif village of the Hebron district (alKhalil).
She is one of the most successful sixty Arab women for the year 2008, according to a poll conducted by Sayidaty. She obtained the peace star for the year 2014 from the Peace and Friendship International Organization. She is a critic and journalist for Arabic magazines, an activist in the issues of human rights, women, childhood and social justice. She is a member in many literary forums. She obtained many local, Arab and international awards in the fields of novels, short stories, theater, children's literature and scientific research.
She has written many plays that were published, performed and that won prizes.
She earned the shield of distinguished university teacher from University of Jordan in of 2007 and 2008. She earned the shield of distinguished academic and creative student in 2005.
She has many contributions in local, Arab and International conferences related to literature, criticism, heritage, human rights and environment. She is a member of its scientific arbitration and information committees. She is a representative of institutions, cultural and legal organizations and a partner in Arab cultural projects.Sataf
Sataf (Arabic: صطاف, Hebrew: סטף) was a Palestinian village in the Jerusalem Subdistrict depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. It was located 10 km west of Jerusalem, with Sorek Valley (Arabic: Wadi as-Sarar) bordering to the east.
Two springs, Ein Sataf and Ein Bikura flow from the site into the riverbed below.
A monastery located across the valley from Sataf, i.e. south of Wadi as-Sarar, known by local Arabs as Ein el-Habis (the "Spring of the Hermitage"), is officially called Monastery of Saint John in the Wilderness.
Today it is a tourist site showcasing ancient agricultural techniques used in the Jerusalem Mountains.Sufla
Sufla (Arabic: سفلى) was a Palestinian Arab village in the Jerusalem Subdistrict. It was depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War on October 19, 1948 by the Sixth Battalion of the Harel Brigade under Operation Ha-Har. It was located 18.5 km west of Jerusalem.
Towns and fortresses destroyed during the First Jewish–Roman War by region