|• Also spelled||Bateer (official)|
|• Head of Municipality||Akram Bader|
|• Jurisdiction||7,419 dunams (7.4 km2 or 2.9 sq mi)|
Habitation of Battir dates back to the Iron Age. Ancient Betar, also Bittir, Bitir, Beitar, whose name it preserves, was a second century Jewish village, the site of the final battle of the Bar Kokhba revolt. It was inhabited during the Byzantine and Islamic periods, and in the Ottoman and British Mandate censuses its population was recorded as primarily Muslim. Battir is situated just above the route of the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway, which served as the armistice line between Israel and Jordan from 1949 until the Six-Day War, when it was captured by Israel. In 2007, Battir had a population of about 4,000 and was under the control of the Palestinian National Authority.
Battir has been identified as the site of ancient Betar. The modern Palestinian village is built around the ancient site "Khirbet el-Yahud" (Arabic, meaning "ruin of the Jews" ) and "is unanimously identified with Betar, the last stronghold of the Second Revolt against the Romans, where its leader, Bar-Kochba, found his death in 135 CE." "A modern agricultural terrace follows the line of the ancient fortification wall". There is a tradition that the village is also the site of the tomb of the Tannaic sage Eleazar of Modi'im.
In 1596, Battir appeared in Ottoman tax registers as a village in the Nahiya of Quds in the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 24 Muslim households and two bachelors, and paid taxes on wheat, summercrops or fruit trees, and goats or beehives.
In the 20th century, Battir's development was linked to its location alongside the railroad to Jerusalem, which provided access to the marketplace as well as income from passengers who disembarked to refresh themselves en route. During the 1948 war, most of the villagers had fled, but Mustafa Hassan and a few others stayed. At night they would light candles in the houses, and in the morning they would take out the cattle. When nearing the village, the Israelis thought Battir was still inhabited and gave up attacking. The armistice line was drawn near the railroad, with Battir ending up just meters to the east of Jordan's border with Israel. At least 30% of Battir's land lies on the Israeli side of the Green Line, but the villagers were allowed to keep it in return for preventing damage to the railway, thus being the only Palestinians officially allowed to cross into Israel and work their lands before the Six-Day War.
After the Six-Day War in 1967, Battir came under Israeli control, but since the signing of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1995, it has been administered by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). Battir is governed by a village council currently administrated by nine members appointed by the PNA.
At the time of the 1931 census, Battir had 172 houses and a population of 755 Muslims, two Christians and one Jew. It had increased to 1,050 Muslims by 1945. In 2007, Battir had a population of 3,967, in 2012 the population was estimated at about 4,500.
Battir is located 6.4 km (horizontal distance) north-west of Bethlehem on a hill above Wadi el-Jundi, which runs southwest through the Judean hills to the coastal plain. At an altitude of around 760 m above sea level, Battir's summers are temperate, and its winters mild with occasional snowfall. The average annual temperature is 16o C.
Ancient irrigation system and terraces
Battir has a unique irrigation system that utilizes man-made terraces and a system of manually diverting water via sluice gates. The Roman-era network is still in use, fed by seven springs which have provided fresh water for 2,000 years. The irrigation system runs through a steep valley near the Green Line where a section of the Ottoman-era Hejaz Railway was laid. Battir's eight main clans take turns each day to water the village's crops. Hence a local saying that in Battir "a week lasts eight days, not seven." According to anthropologist Giovanni Sontana of UNESCO, "There are few, if any, places left in the immediate region where such a traditional method of agriculture remains, not only intact, but as a functioning part of the village."
In 2007, the village of Battir sued the Israeli Defense Ministry to try to force them to change the planned route of the Israeli West Bank barrier which would cut through part of Battir's 2,000-year old irrigation system, which is still in use.  The Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA), which approved the fence’s original route in 2005, changed its mind and wrote in a 13-page policy paper that Battir’s terraces were also an Israeli heritage site and should be carefully safeguarded, stating that agricultural terraces around Battir attesting to millennia-old methods of farming in the region will be irreversibly harmed by the fence, no matter how narrow its route. It was the first time an Israeli government agency expressed opposition to the construction of a segment of the fence. This affidavit was one of four expert opinions that contended the fence would decimate the unique farming system, and in early May 2013, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that the Defense Ministry must explain “why should the route of the separation barrier in the Battir village area not be nullified or changed, and alternately why should the barrier not be reconfigured.” The Defense Ministry has to submit a new plan for securing the border that will not destroy Battir by July 2, 2013. A separate petition against the separation barrier has also been filed by the nearby Jewish settlement Beitar Illit, fearing that it would prevent them from expanding the settlement.
In May 2012, the Palestinian National Authority sent a delegation to UNESCO headquarters in Paris to discuss the possibility of adding Battir to its World Heritage List. The PNA's deputy minister of tourism, Hamadan Taha, said that the organization wants to "maintain it as a Palestinian and humanitarian heritage," making special note of its historic terraces and irrigation systems. the nomination of Battir was blocked at the last minute because the formal submission was too late. In a document concerning the damage the security fence would do to the area, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) noted "The struggle of our neighbors to name the area a World Heritage Site places us in an embarrassing position, and we should work together with them to protect the landscape."
An old Roman bath fed by a spring is located in the middle of the village. Archaeologist D. Ussishkin dates the village to the Iron Age, and states that at the time of the Revolt it was a village of between one and two thousand people chosen by Bar Kochba for its spring, defensible hilltop location, and proximity to the main Jerusalem-Gaza road. No evidence of habitation in the period immediately after the Revolt. A mosaic from the late Byzantine or early Muslim period was found in Battir.
- 2007 PCBS Census Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.116.
- Palmer, 1881, p. 292
- David Ussishkin, "Soundings in Betar, Bar-Kochba's Last Stronghold"
- D. Ussishkin, Archaeological Soundings at Betar, Bar-Kochba's Last Stronghold, Tel Aviv 20, 1993, pp. 66-97.
- K. Singer, Pottery of the Early Roman Period from Betar, Tel Aviv 20, 1993, pp. 98-103.
- אוצר מסעות - יהודה דוד אייזענשטיין
- Wolf-Dieter Hütteroth and Kamal Abdulfattah (1977). Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft. p. 115.
- Guérin, 1869, p. 387 ff
- Conder and Kitchener, 1883, p. 20-21
- A Window on the West Bank, by Bret Wallach
- Hans-Christian Rößler (June 21, 2012). "Palästinenserdorf Battir: Widerstand durch Denkmalschutz". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- Daniella Cheslow (May 14, 2012). "West Bank Barrier Threatens Farms". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
- West Bank barrier threatens villagers' way of life. BBC News. 2012-05-09.
- Zafrir Rinat (September 13, 2012). "For first time, Israeli state agency opposes segment of West Bank separation fence". Haaretz. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- "Battir Village Profile". The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem. 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- E. Mills, ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine. p. 37.
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p56. 
- "Palestine readying to propose Battir for UNESCO protection". Ma'an News Agency. Friday 01/02/2013. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- A Palestinian Village Tries to Protect a Terraced Ancient Wonder of Agriculture. New York Times. 2012-06-25.
- Threatened village proposed as next UNESCO world heritage site. Ma'an News Agency.
- Daniella Cheslow (June 10, 2013). "Land for Peace in the Battle Over Millennia-Old Palestinian Farming Terraces". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- Ruth Michaelson (March 12, 2013). "Historic Palestinian village fights Israel's separation wall". Radio France Internationale. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- "PNA intensifies efforts to add more sites to World Heritage list". Xinhua News Agency. May 30, 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
- Claudine Dauphin (1998). La Palestine byzantine, Peuplement et Populations, Vol. III : Catalogue. BAR International Series 726. Oxford: Archeopress. p. 911.
- Britain Palestine Twinning Network.
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- Conder, Claude Reignier; Kitchener, Herbert H. (1883). The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology 3. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Dauphin, Claudine (1998). La Palestine byzantine, Peuplement et Populations, Vol. III : Catalogue. BAR International Series 726. Oxford: Archeopress.
- Guérin, Victor (1869). Description Géographique, Historique et Archéologique de la Palestine. Judee, Vol 1, pt 2, part 1.
- Hadawi, Sami (1970), Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine, Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center
- Hütteroth, Wolf-Dieter; Abdulfattah, Kamal (1977). Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft.
- Mills, E., ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine.
- Palmer, E. H. (1881). The Survey of Western Palestine: Arabic and English Name Lists Collected During the Survey by Lieutenants Conder and Kitchener, R. E. Transliterated and Explained by E.H. Palmer. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
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- Battir Village Profile
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