Beita, Nablus

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Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic بيتا
 • Also spelled Bayta (official)
Beita is located in the Palestinian territories
Location of Beita within Palestine
Coordinates: 32°08′37″N 35°17′15″E / 32.14361°N 35.28750°E / 32.14361; 35.28750Coordinates: 32°08′37″N 35°17′15″E / 32.14361°N 35.28750°E / 32.14361; 35.28750
Palestine grid 177/172
Governorate Nablus
 • Type Municipality (from 1996)
 • Head of Municipality Arab ash-Shurafa
 • Jurisdiction 76,000 dunams (76.0 km2 or 29.3 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 • Jurisdiction 9,079
Name meaning Beit, a house[1]

Beita (Arabic: بيتا‎, translation: "Home") is a Palestinian town in the Nablus Governorate in the northern West Bank located 13 kilometers (8.1 mi) southeast of Nablus. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of 9,709 in 2007.[2] It consists of five clans which branch out to thirty families. There are many houses and prisons dating back to the Roman era.[3] The current mayor that was elected in 2004 is Arab ash-Shurafa.[4]

The town contains four mosques and three clinics.[5]


Ottoman era[edit]

Beita was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 with all of Palestine, and in 1596 it appeared in the tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Jabal Qubal of the Liwa of Nablus. It had a population of 50 households, all Muslim. The villagers paid taxes on wheat, barley, summer crops, olive trees, occasional revenues, goats and/or beehives, and a press for olives or grapes.[6]

In 1838, Edward Robinson noted Beita as a "large village",[7] while in 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described it as "A large village, with a kind of suburb to the south, near which are ancient tombs. It is supplied by wells, and surrounded by olives. It stands upon the hills east of the Mukhnah plain, and is the capital of the district named from it."[8]

British Mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Beita had a population of 883, all Muslims,[9] increasing at the time of the 1931 census to 1,194, still all Muslim, in 286 houses.[10]

In 1945 Beita had a population of 1,580, all Arabs, with 17,542 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey.[11] Of this, 5,666 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 6,916 used for cereals,[12] while 76 dunams were built-up land.[13]


In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and after the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Beita came under Jordanian rule.

In 1952, Beita opened an elementary school (before, most teaching was done in mosques), which served the town and surrounding villages. In 1954, an elementary school for girls only was established and since then, four other schools have been built - including two secondary schools.[14]


After the Six-Day War in 1967, Beita has been under Israeli occupation.

The town was considered a Fatah stronghold,[15] however Arab ash-Shurafa, a member of Hamas was elected mayor in 2005. Shurafa was arrested by the IDF, along with Nablus mayor Adly Yaish and Education Minister of the Palestinian National Authority Nasser al-Shaer in 2006 for their membership in Hamas.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict[edit]

In January 1988, 20 men from Beita and Huwara, identified by a GSS report after clashes with Israeli troops to have been involved in stone throwing, were assembled, bound, without their resisting, with plastic handcuffs and had their bones broken by soldiers, and then were abandoned at night in a muddy field. The International Red Cross made a formal complaint, after local press reports had been ignored.[16] The army did not prosecute the matter initially. Lieutenant-colonel Yehuda Meir was reprimanded, and forced into retirement, with his officer's rank and pension rights intact. He was prosecuted only after the Association for Civil Rights in Israel made an issue of the matter by appealing to the Supreme Court which ruled that he had to stand trial, which then took place in April 1991. Meir was the local Nablus district commander overseeing the operation, and testified that he had acted under orders directly coming from Yitzhak Rabin and that when he had objected to bone-smashing, Rabin had replied:"You do the work, I'll take care of the media." His superiors testified that orders were only to use force in pursuit and arrests. The court believed the latter and found that the orders were legal, but that Meir had deviated from instructions. [17][18][16]

Main article: Beita incident

On April 6, 1988, 20 hikers from Elon Moreh, an Israeli settlement 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) north of Beita, led by Romam Aldubi[19] were crossing village land in a show of strength[20] when they came across Mousa Saleh Bani Shamseh, working his land. Haaretz and other newspapers reported that there was an encounter with youths throwing stones. Aldubi shot Shamseh dead.[21] A rumour spread that the group wanted to poison the village's well. When the Israeli's entered Beita they were met by a crowd of villagers who had learned of the killing. After the Palestinians began throwing stones,[22][23] Aldubi opened fire with his automatic weapon and killed Hatem Fayez Ahmad Al-Jaber and severely wounded several other villagers.[15][24]

He also killed Tirza Porat, a 15-year-old member of his own group. He was disarmed by the villagers, who destroyed his gun. He received a serious head wound.

Initial reports in the media described the girl as being killed by Palestinian stone throwers. An official statement spoke of the group falling 'into the hands of pogromists and murderers'. Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir attended her funeral at which there were cries of "Revenge" and "Wipe Beita off the map".[25] The following day the Israel Defense Forces revealed that she been shot in the head by a M16 carbine belonging to Aldubi. It was also revealed that 'the young settlers, instructed by their elders, had rendered untruthful accounts.'[26] Despite knowing from the start who was responsible, the Israeli Army dynamited 15 buildings in Beita "giving people ample time to leave". Noam Chomsky states this was "a total lie", counting double the number of buildings destroyed including all their contents. They also killed a sixteen-year-old boy, Issam Abdul Halim Mohammad Said, and arrested all male adult residents, six of whom were later deported. Romam Aldubi was brought to trial in Israel, but the charges were dropped on the grounds "that what had happened [was] already punishment enough".[3][15][27][28][29]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 226
  2. ^ 2007 PCBS Census. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.110.
  3. ^ a b Beita Municipality: Beita Town
  4. ^ Beita Municipality: Municipality
  5. ^ Beita Municipality: Public Foundations Beita Municipality.
  6. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 134
  7. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 2, p. 93
  8. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 288
  9. ^ Barron, 1923, Table IX, Sub-district of Nablus, p. 25
  10. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 60
  11. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 59
  12. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 105
  13. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 155
  14. ^ Beita Municipality: Education Beita Municipality.
  15. ^ a b c Lockman and Beinin, 1989, pp. 81
  16. ^ a b Glenn Frankel, Beyond the Promised Land: Jews and Arabs on the Hard Road to a New Israel, pp.82-83.
  17. ^ John Conroy, Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture, University of California Press, 2000 pp.138-156,1991-224.
  18. ^ Gad Barzilai, Wars, Internal Conflicts, and Political Order: A Jewish Democracy in the Middle East, SUNY Press 2002 pp.176-177.
  19. ^ "even among the militant settlers, he has consistently stood out for his provocative conduct, which has gained him the dubious honour of being the only Jew ever subjected to a military exclusion order (whereby he is banned from entering Nablus)." Peretz Kidron, Middle East International No323, 16 April 1988.
  20. ^ "to show who are the masters," as one hiker later told a TV interviewer. Chomsky, 1999, p. 495.
  21. ^ Kifner, John (April 11, 1988). "West Bank Settlers Turn Anger Against the Army". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Girl killed by errant bullet, Israeli army inquiry saya". Tri-City Herald. April 28, 1988. p. A8. 
  23. ^ "5 Sentenced In West Bank Incident". The Philadelphia Inquirer. May 25, 1989. p. A20. 
  24. ^ Daoud Kuttab, Middle East International. No 323, 16 April 1988: 'the party approached a youth working his land to ask where there was a well. The Palestinian replied "not here" and asked the settlers what they were doing on the village land. One report said that the youth told the Israeli settlers to get out of "our country". Apparently this reply angered the extremist armed guard who shot him in the stomach.'
  25. ^ Peretz Kidron, Middle East International. No 323, 16 April 1988. page 7.
  26. ^ Peretz Kidron, MEI, No 323. page 8.
  27. ^ In Separate Gestures, a Mosaic of Intentions Friedman, Thomas L. New York Times 1988-04-17
  28. ^ Noam Chomsky, 'Power and Terror - Post-9/11 Talks and Interviews. Seven Stories Press, New York. Little More, Tokyo. 2003. ISBN 1-58322-590-0. page 93.
  29. ^ Journal of Palestine Studies, vol XVII, No.4 #68 Summer 1988, page 230: Palestine Chronology, 8 April. "Israeli army reports 15-year-old Israeli killed 4/6 died when bullet from M-16 rifle carried by Israeli guard struck her in head. Investigation has also shown guard, who was banned by the army from Nablus, killed 1 Palestinian and wounded another before Israeli group reached Bayta village. Some villagers reacted to news of killing by attacking Israelis with stones. Guard was wounded by rock thrown at head. Villagers took guards' guns and broke them. Other Palestinians tried to hide Israeli youths. Soldiers later broke into Bayta hospital, beating patients in search for those suspected of involvement in clash.[NYT 4/9]. (New York Times)


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