Beit Ummar

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Beit Ummar
Arabic transcription(s)
 • Arabicبيت اُمّر
 • LatinBayt 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
Palestine grid159/114
StateState of Palestine
 • TypeMunicipality (from 1997)
 • Head of MunicipalityNasri Sabarna
 • Total19,892
Name meaning"House of Ummar"[1]

Beit Ummar (Arabic: بيت اُمّر‎) is a Palestinian town located eleven kilometers northwest of Hebron in the Hebron Governorate.[2] According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2016, the town had a population of 17,892 inhabitants.[3] Over 4,800 residents of the town are under the age of 18. Since the Second Intifada, unemployment ranges between 60 and 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][8][9] 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 who converted during the 7th century Muslim conquest and the old city contains Christian ruins.[5]

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.[10][11]

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.[10]

Ottoman era[edit]

In 1838, Edward Robinson noted the village from Al-Dawayima.[12]

The French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village in 1863, and found it to have about 450 inhabitants.[13] Socin found from an official Ottoman village list from about 1870 that Beit Ummar had a total of 44 houses and a population of 133, though the population count included men, only.[14] Hartmann found that Bet Ummar had 60 houses.[15]

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."[16]

British Mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Bait Ummar had a population of 829 inhabitants, all Muslims,[17] increasing in the 1931 census to 1,135, still entirely Muslim, in 217 inhabited houses.[18]

In the 1945 statistics the population of Beit Ummar was 80 Jews and 1,600 Muslims, and the total land area was 30,129 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey.[19][20] 2,912 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 12,879 for cereals,[21] while 55 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[22]

Jordanian era[edit]

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

In 1961, the population of Beit Ummar was 2,103.[23]


Demonstration against land confiscation, Beit Ummar, December 2011

Since the Six-Day War in 1967, Beit Ummar has been under Israeli occupation. The population in the 1967 census conducted by the Israeli authorities was 2,630.[24]

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.[25] The town is currently located in Area B (civil affairs administered by the PNA) and Area C (civil and military affairs controlled by Israel).[5] Israel has confiscated about 4,000 dunams of village land in order to construct Israeli bypass roads and several Israeli settlements: Karmei Zur, Migdal Oz, Kfar Etzion and Efrat.[26]

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

Several people in the village have been shot and killed by the Israeli soldiers or settlers during Israeli occupation. In January 2011, 17-year-old Yousef Ikhlayl, was reported shot and killed by Israeli settlers. The Israeli court set released the settlers.[27][28][29]

In August 2014, Hashem Abu Maria was killed by an IDF sharpshooter. Two other Palestinians from Beit Ummar were also shot and killed.[30][31]

In April 2015, 27-year-old Ziyad Awad was shot and killed in a demonstration which started after the funeral of his cousin.[32][33][34]

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 389
  2. ^ Beit Ummar: Town Statistics and Facts
  3. ^ 'Localities in Hebron Governorate by Type of Locality and Population Estimates, 2007-2016 ,' Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2016.
  4. ^ Beit Omar Background
  5. ^ a b c d e Sample Area Background: Beit Ummar Archived 2007-12-12 at the Wayback Machine (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. ^ Hastings, James (2004) [1898]. A Dictionary of the Bible: Volume III: (Part II: O -- Pleiades) (reprint). Honolulu, Hawaii: University Press of the Pacific. p. 648. ISBN 978-1-4102-1727-1. The ninth group is in the mountains north of Hebron, including Halhu (Halhul), Bethzur (Beit Sur), Maarath (Beit Umar), Beth-anoth (Beit Ainun), and Eltekon - perhaps Tekoa (Tekua).
  9. ^ Wilson, John (1847). The Lands of the Bible Visited and Described, Volume 1. Edenburgh: William Whyte. pp. 386–387. OL 20556861M. Beit-Ummar is on a heights to the left. It is apparently a considerable village... At least four of these villages are thus given in juxtaposition in Joshua, "Halhul, Beth-Zur and Gedor and Maarath, and Beth-Anoth, and Eltekon."
  10. ^ a b Sharon, 1999, pp. 161-164
  11. ^ Clermont-Ganneau, 1899, p. 456
  12. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol2, p. 401
  13. ^ Guérin, 1869, p. 298
  14. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 145
  15. ^ Hartmann, 1883, p. 142
  16. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 303
  17. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Hebron, p. 10
  18. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 27
  19. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 23
  20. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 50
  21. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 93
  22. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 143
  23. ^ Government of Jordan, Department of Statistics, 1964, p. 15
  24. ^ Perlmann, Joel (November 2011 – February 2012). "The 1967 Census of the West Bank and Gaza Strip: A Digitized Version" (PDF). Levy Economics Institute. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  25. ^ Municipality Guide Nablus Municipality Official Website Archived December 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Beit Ummar Town Profile, ARIJ, pp. 15–16
  27. ^ Palestinian killed in clashes with settlers near Hebron, 01/29/2011, Jerusalem Post
  28. ^ Court releases hikers suspected of killing Palestinian teen 02/03/2011, Jerusalem Post
  29. ^ Demanding justice for Yousef, a quiet boy killed by Israeli settlers, Bekah Wolf 27 January 2012, The Electronic Intifada
  30. ^ A bullet through the heart of a Palestinian man - and an entire community By Gideon Levy and Alex Levac 15.08.14 Haaretz
  31. ^ West Bank Palestinians die in fresh clashes, 25 Jul 2014, Al Jazeera
  32. ^ 27-year-old Palestinian killed near Hebron after funeral of his cousin, 10 April 2015
  33. ^ Palestinian killed in clashes with Israeli forces, 10 April 2015, The Daily Mail
  34. ^ Palestinians: One Killed, Six Wounded in Clashes With Israeli Forces Ha'aretz 10/4/2015


External links[edit]