Beit Ummar

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Beit Ummar
Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic بيت اُمّر
 • Also spelled Bayt Ummar (official)
Beit Omar (unofficial)
Beit Ummar, in 2011
Beit Ummar, in 2011
Beit Ummar is located in the Palestinian territories
Beit Ummar
Beit Ummar
Location of Beit Ummar within Palestine
Coordinates: 31°37′17″N 35°06′08″E / 31.62139°N 35.10222°E / 31.62139; 35.10222Coordinates: 31°37′17″N 35°06′08″E / 31.62139°N 35.10222°E / 31.62139; 35.10222
Governorate Hebron
 • Type Municipality (from 1997)
 • Head of Municipality Nasri Sabarna
Population (2007)
 • Jurisdiction 13,348
Name meaning "House of Ummar"[1]

Beit Ummar (Arabic: بيت اُمّر‎) is an Arab town located eleven kilometers northwest of Hebron in the Hebron Governorate.[2] According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2007, the town had a population of 13,348 inhabitants.[3] Over 4,800 residents of the town are under the age of 18. Since the Second Intifada, unemployment ranges between 60 to 80 percent due mostly to the inability of residents to work in Israel and a depression in the Palestinian economy.[4] A part of the city straddles Road 60 and due to this, several propositions of house demolition have occurred.[5]

Beit Ummar is mostly agricultural and is noted for its many grape vines. This has a major aspect on their culinary tradition of stuffed grape leaves known as waraq al-'inib and a grape syrup called dibs.[5] Beit Ummar also has cherry, plum, apple and olive orchards.[6]


Beit Ummar is believed to be the site of Biblical village of Maarath.[6][7] According to some traditions, the town was named after the Islamic Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab because he supposedly frequented the town. Many of the town's predominantly Muslim residents are descendants of Arab Christian families and the old city contains Christian ruins.[5]

The French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village in 1863, and found it to have about 450 inhabitants.[8] In 1883 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described Beit Ummar as a "small but conspicuous village standing on the watershed, and visible from some distance on the north. An ancient road passes through it. Half a mile north-east is a good spring, ' Ain Kufin. The mosque has a small tower to it. The surrounding neighbourhood is covered with brushwood."[9]

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Bait Ummar had a population of 829, all Muslims,[10] increasing in the 1931 census to 1,135, still entirely Muslim, in 217 inhabited houses.[11] In 1945 the population of Beit Ummar was 80 Jews and 1,600 Arabs, who owned 30,129 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey.[12] 2,912 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 12,879 for cereals,[13] while 55 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[14]

Mosque of Nabi Matta[edit]

The Mosque of Nabi Matta, 2011

The main mosque in Beit Ummar houses the tomb of Nabi Matta. Matta meaning Matthew or Amittai, father of Jonah. Mujir ad-Din writes that Matta was "a holy man from the people of the house of the prophecy." Nearby Halhul houses the tomb of Jonah with the inscription reading "Yunus ibn Matta" or "Jonah son of Amittai", confirming that Matta is indeed the Arabic name for Amittai and the Beit Ummar tomb is dedicated to Amittai.[15][16]

In 1226, the Ayyubid sultan al-Mu'azzam built a mosque with a minaret under the supervision of Jerusalem governor Rashid ad-Din al-Mu'azzami. The Mamluks constructed some additions to the mosque and engraved several inscriptions on its surface.[15]


The town became a municipality on April 17, 1997 after the dismantlement of the Israeli village council and Hussein Badr was appointed by the Palestinian National Authority.[5] The current mayor is Nasri Sabarna.[17] The town is currently located in Areas B (civil affairs administered by the PNA) and C (civil and military affairs controlled by Israel).[5]

The town is governed by a municipal council consisting of thirteen members including the mayor.

Demonstration against land confiscation, Bait Ummar, December 2011

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 389
  2. ^ Beit Ummar: Town Statistics and Facts
  3. ^ 2007 PCBS Census Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.118.
  4. ^ Beit Omar Background
  5. ^ a b c d e Sample Area Background: Beit Ummar (2000) Campaign for Secure Dwellings, Christian Peacemaker Teams
  6. ^ a b Beit Ummar: Where Dreams Come True Aging with Dignity in Palestinian Villages Qleibo, Ali. This Week in Palestine.
  7. ^ Armstrong, 1889, p.119
  8. ^ Guérin, 1869, p. 298
  9. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 303
  10. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Hebron, p. 10
  11. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 27
  12. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 50
  13. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 93
  14. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 143
  15. ^ a b Sharon, 1999, p. 161-164
  16. ^ Clermont-Ganneau, 1896, p. 456
  17. ^ Municipality Guide Nablus Municipality Official Website[dead link]


External links[edit]