|Also spelled||Selebi, Shaalvim, Shaalbim, Shaalabbin|
|Date of depopulation||15–16 July 1948|
|Cause(s) of depopulation||Military assault by Yishuv forces|
Salbit (Arabic: سلبيت) was a Palestinian Arab village located 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) southeast of al-Ramla. It has been identified with the biblical town of Shaalabbin (also, Shaalbim) which was located 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) northwest of biblical Aijalon (modern day Yalo). Salbit was depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War after a military assault by Israeli forces. The Israeli locality of Shaalvim was established on the former village's lands in 1951.
Shaalabbin is mentioned in Joshua 19:42 as a city of the southern Dan whereas in the Septuagint (LXX) it is mentioned as one of the cities in which the Amorites continued to dwell after the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. The name has no obvious Hebrew derivation and may be a survival of a form of pre-Canaanite speech. Shaalbim is also mentioned in 1 Kings 4:9 as an area under the administration of Ben-Deker, one of twelve officers who is said to have paid tribute to King Solomon, and in Judges 1:35.
The houses in Salbit were made of mud and stone and were grouped around the village center where the mosque, suq and elementary school was located. The school, built in 1947, had 47 students. All the villagers were of the Muslim faith, and they made their living by agriculture and the raising of livestock. In 1944-45 a total of 4,066 dunums was allocated to the cultivation of cereals, while 16 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. The village's drinking water came from a local well. The population numbered 406 in 1931, living in 71 houses. Salbit was listed as one of the villages in the Jerusalem District of British Mandate Palestine and the population figure included the inhabitants of Bayt Shanna. In 1944-45 the population was estimated at 510.
1948 war and aftermath
During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and the 1948 Palestinian exodus from Lydda and Ramle (Lydda death march), some of those forcibly expelled were bussed to Latrun on the front lines and from there ordered to walk northward to Salbit. The Lydda death march, as it came to be known, brought hundreds of refugee families to Salbit where they took shelter in a fig grove and were given water and rest for the night before trucks from the Arab Legion began moving some of the families to a Palestinian refugee camp in Ramallah.
Salbit itself was depopulated after a military assault by Israeli forces on 15–16 July 1948. After its depopulation, Israeli forces headed by Yigal Allon used it as a base from which to launch an attack on the strategic hill of Latrun on 18 July, which was spurned by the forces of the Arab Legion who managed to hold onto the site without inflicting any casualties on the Israeli forces. The village structures of Salbit were subsequently completely destroyed, and according to Walid Khalidi, all that remains of the village today are "some cactus plants and shrubs." The estimated number of Palestinian refugees from Salbit as of 1998 was 3,633.
In 1949, archaeologists excavated the remains of a Samaritan synagogue there that was dated to the late 4th or early 5th century. Measuring 15.4 x 8 metres, its mosaic floor contains one Greek inscriptions and two in Samaritan. In the centre of the mosaic is a mountain which is thought to be a depiction of Mount Gerizim, a place holy to Samaritans. Rectangular in shape, the synagogue was longitudinally aligned more or less with Mount Gerizim.
- Taylor, 1993, p. 68.
- Smith, 1857, p. 972.
- Morris, 2004, p. xix village #239. Also gives cause of depopulation.
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- Hadawi, 1970, p.117
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- Taylor, Joan E. (1993). Christians and the holy places: the myth of Jewish-Christian origins. Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-814785-5. Retrieved 2 May 2011.