Bayt Nattif

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Bayt Nattif
Beit Natif 1948.jpg
Bayt Nattif after capture, 1948
Bayt Nattif is located in Mandatory Palestine
Bayt Nattif
Bayt Nattif
Subdistrict Hebron
Coordinates 31°41′43.9″N 34°59′45.6″E / 31.695528°N 34.996000°E / 31.695528; 34.996000Coordinates: 31°41′43.9″N 34°59′45.6″E / 31.695528°N 34.996000°E / 31.695528; 34.996000
Palestine grid 149/122
Population 2150 (1945)
Date of depopulation October 21, 1948[1]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Netiv HaLamed-Heh, Aviezer, Neve Michael[2]

Bayt Nattif (Arabic: بيت نتّيف‎), (Hebrew: בית נתיף), was a Palestinian Arab village in the Hebron Subdistrict. The village was originally known as Bayt Lettif,[3] and 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. The village was depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War on October 21, 1948 under Operation Ha-Har. It was located 21 km northwest of Hebron.[4]

In 1945 it had a population of 2,150. Bayt Nattif contained several shrines, including a notable one dedicated to al-Shaykh Ibrahim.[2] Roughly a dozen khirbas lay in the vicinity.[2]

Figurine discovered in Bayt Nattif

The Bayt Nattif lamp[5] is named for a type of ceramic oil lamp found during the archaeological excavation of two cisterns at Bayt Nattif in southern Judaea.[6] Bayt Nattif was located 20 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem, midway between Beit Guvrin and Jerusalem. Based on the discovery of unused oil lamps and molds, it is believed that in ancient times the village manufactured late Roman or Byzantine pottery, possibly selling its wares in Jerusalem and Beit Guvrin.[7]

History[edit]

Bayt Nattif is mentioned in the writings of Josephus under the slightly different rendering, Bayt Letepha (Bethletephon).[2] According to Josephus, the city was sacked under Vespasian and Titus, during the first Jewish uprising against Rome.[8] The city had been assigned the status of toparchy, one of eleven toparchies or prefectures in Judaea given certain administrative responsibilities: 1) The toparchy of Gophna; 2) The toparchy of Acrabatta; 3) The toparchy of Thamna; 4) The toparchy of Lydda; 5) The toparchy of Emmaus; 6) The toparchy of Pella; 7) The toparchy of Idumea, one of whose principal cities being Bethletephon; 8) The toparchy of En Gedi; 9) The toparchy of Herodium; 10) The toparchy of Jericho, and 11) The toparchy of Jamnia and Joppa. These all answered to Jerusalem.[9]

During the 12th year of the reign of Nero, when the Roman army had suffered a great defeat under Cestius, 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, Dora and Marissa. This region was called Idumea on account of it being a region inhabited largely by the descendants of Esau (Edom) who made themselves proselytes to Judaism during the time of John Hyrcanus. Generals, likewise, were appointed for Jericho and Perea (in trans-Jordan), and another general for Thamma (whose authority extended over those able-bodied fighting men in Lydda, Joppa and Emmaus), while yet another general was appointed over the area about Gophna and Acrabatta, and yet another over the cities in the Galilee.[10]

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 Romanisation process that took place in the rural areas of Judaea after the Bar Kokhba war.[11]

Ottoman Turk period (1517 – 1917)[edit]

Literary sources bearing on the history of the village, from the Byzantines to the Arab conquest in 636 under Caliph Omar to the Egyptian conquest in 969[12] and the Seljuk Turk conquest in 1087, are virtually non-existent. Likewise, no records exist of the village from the long period of foreign conquests (1099 – 1516), until the rise of the Ottoman Empire.[13] In 1596, Bayt Nattif was listed among villages belonging to the Jerusalem (Quds) administrative district (Liwā`) 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 one-hundred and four Muslim households. The Turkish authority levied a 13.3% 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 12000 akçe.[14]

British Mandate (1917 – 1948)[edit]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

In 1931, there were 329 houses in Bayt Nattif (which figure includes houses built in the nearby ruin, Khirbet Umm al-Ra’us), with a total population of 1,649. By 1945, the population had swelled to 2,150.[18] In 1944, a total of 20,149 dunums were allocated to cereal grains in the adjacent lowlands; 688 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.

Under the British Mandate of Palestine, Bayt Nattif was politically aligned with the Arab secessionists. In the 1947 UN Partition Plan, it was designated as part of the Arab state, but Arab leaders and governments rejected the partition plan.[19]

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.[20]

Israeli rule (1948 – ff.)[edit]

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. The official Jewish account alleges that the Arab village of Bayt Nattif was complicit in the murder of thirty-five Jews (see the Convoy of 35) who were en route to Hebron on January 16, 1948 to help the beleaguered Jewish community there.[21] These thirty-five Jewish soldiers were ambushed by Arab peasants and killed. Out of an original thirty-eight men, only three survived. The inhabitants of Bayt Nattif were said to have been the cause for their detection and eventual murder. Afterwards, the people of Bayt Nattif were asked to evacuate their village in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War on October 21, 1948 under Operation Ha-Har, by the Fourth Battalion of the Har'el Brigade, since Arab militias were known to have operated in that village. This was seen as a necessary war measure, deemed expedient to ensure the safety of Jews living in that area. Most of its inhabitants escaped to Bethlehem and Hebron.[2][22] Today, the land whereon was once built Bayt Nattif comprises what is now called Halamed He Forest (Hebrew: יער הל"ה) and is maintained by the Jewish National Fund.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Morris, 2004, p.xx, village #342. Also gives cause of depopulation.
  2. ^ a b c d e Khalidi, 1992, pp. 211-212.
  3. ^ In an interview with Muhammad Abu Halawa (born 1929), he disclosed unto his interviewer, Rakan Mahmoud, in 2009, that the original name of the village was Bayt Lettif, but since it was phonetically easier for the tongue to say Bayt Nattif, so did the name change. See Palestine Oral History: Interview with Muhammad Halawa #1, Bayt Nattif-Hebron, Arabic (In video: 2:48 – 2:56)
  4. ^ Walid Khalidi, All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, Washington, D.C. ca. 1992, p. 211
  5. ^ Judean Beit Nattif Oil Lamp
  6. ^ New light on daily life at Beth Shean
  7. ^ Jerusalem Ceramic Chronology: Circa 200-800 CE, Jodi Magness
  8. ^ Josephus, De Bello Judaico (Wars of the Jews) iv.viii.1.
  9. ^ Josephus, De Bello Judaico (Wars of the Jews), iii.iii.4
  10. ^ Josephus, De Bello Judaico (Wars of the Jews), ii.xx.3-4
  11. ^ Boaz Zissu & Eitan Klein, A Rock-Cut Burial Cave from the Roman Period at Beit Nattif, Judaean Foothills, Israel Exploration Journal 61 (2), 2011, pp. 196-216
  12. ^ Al-Muqaddasi the Arab geographer wrote in 985 CE about the hostelries, or wayfarers' inns, in the Province of Palestine, a country at that time listed under the topography of Syria, saying: “Taxes are not heavy in Syria, with the exception of those levied on the Caravanserais (Fanduk); Here, however, the duties are oppressive...” (See: Mukaddasi, Description of Syria, Including Palestine, ed. Guy Le Strange, London 1886, pp. 91, 37). The reference here being to the imposts and duties charged by government officials on the importation of goods and merchandise, the importers of which and their beasts of burden usually stopping to take rest in these places. Guards were stationed at every gate to ensure that taxes for these goods be paid in full, while the revenue therefrom accruing to the Fatimid kingdom of Egypt.
  13. ^ The sense here is to the occupation of the country under the Crusaders in 1099, and by Saladin in 1187, the Khwarizmian Turks in 1244, and the Mameluk rulers of Egypt in 1269. See: Supplement to Survey of Palestine (Notes compiled for the information of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine - June 1947), Government Printer: Jerusalem 1947, p. 125
  14. ^ Wolf-Dieter Hütteroth & Kamal Abdulfattah, Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century, Erlangen 1977, p. 114
  15. ^ A Survey of Palestine (Prepared in December 1945 and January 1946 for the information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry), chapter 8, section 5, British Mandate Government of Palestine: Jerusalem 1946, p. 255
  16. ^ A Survey of Palestine (Prepared in December 1945 and January 1946 for the information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry), chapter 8, section 4, British Mandate Government of Palestine: Jerusalem 1946, p. 246
  17. ^ A Survey of Palestine (Prepared in December 1945 and January 1946 for the information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry), chapter 8, section 4, British Mandate Government of Palestine: Jerusalem 1946, pp. 246 – 247
  18. ^ Walid Khalidi, All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, Washington, D.C. ca. 1992, p. 211
  19. ^ Benny Morris (2008). 1948: a history of the first Arab-Israeli war. Yale University Press. pp. 66, 67, 72. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Walid Khalidi, All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, Washington, D.C. ca. 1992, p. 211
  21. ^ Walid Khalidi, All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, Washington, D.C. ca. 1992, p. 211
  22. ^ Carta's Official Guide to Israel, Jerusalem 1983, s.v. Bayt Nattif.

Bibliography[edit]

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