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 • Arabic بيتين
 • Also spelled Baytin (official)
Bittin (unofficial)
Beitin is located in the Palestinian territories
Location of Beitin within the Palestinian territories
Coordinates: 31°55′42″N 35°14′18″E / 31.92833°N 35.23833°E / 31.92833; 35.23833Coordinates: 31°55′42″N 35°14′18″E / 31.92833°N 35.23833°E / 31.92833; 35.23833
Governorate Ramallah & al-Bireh
Founded Early 19th century
 • Type Village council (from 1996)
 • Head of Municipality Tawfiq Musa Al-Hajya (Abu-Mazen)
 • Jurisdiction 4,764 dunams (4.8 km2 or 1.9 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 • Jurisdiction 2,143
Name meaning corruption of the Hebrew "Bethel",[1] house ("beth" or "beit") of God ("el")[2]

Beitin (Arabic: بيتين‎‎ Bitīn) is a Palestinian town in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate in the central West Bank, located 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) northeast of Ramallah along the Ramallah-Nablus road. The Palestinian towns of Dura al-Qar' and Ein Yabrud lie to the north, Rammun to the east, Deir Dibwan to the southeast and al-Bireh to the southwest. The Israeli settlement of Beit El is northwest of Beitin.


There are several springs around Beitin, which is known for its olive, almond, fig and plum groves.[3]



Human settlement at the site of Beitin dates back to the Chalcolithic period. Archaeological excavations in 1950 uncovered flint tools, pottery and animal bones from that time. In the Early Bronze Age (around 3200 BCE) normally nomadic populations settled in the area. Canaanite tombs, houses and olive presses were discovered to the north and southeast of the village. The remains of a Canaanite temple were also excavated by archaeologists.[4] In the Middle Bronze Age (around 1750 BCE) its status was elevated from a village to a fortified Canaanite town which was believed to be named Luz.[3][5] Two city gates dating to this period have been excavated, one in the northeast and the other northwest of the wall.[4] A second temple was built in Luz during this period, but was destroyed as a result of an earthquake.[4]

Beitin has been identified as the biblical Bethel,[6] the site where Jacob slept and dreamt of the angels coming up and down a ladder (Genesis 28:19).[7] Some scholars believe that Bethel was located on the site of the ruins surrounding Beitin.[8] According to Jewish tradition, Jacob encountered God in Luz and renamed the town Bethel or "house of God." However, based on a reading of Josephus, where he writes vayetsai mebeit-el luzah ("from Bethel to Luz,") Luz and Bethel may have been two different places.[5]

Byzantine era[edit]

In Byzantine times, Bethel held annual festivals on October 18. The population was Eastern Orthodox Christian and monks from the Sinai Peninsula, particularly Zosimas of Palestine, were known to have visited the town. The church fell into ruin after the Islamic Rashidun army conquered the area, but was rebuilt by the Crusaders in the 12th century.[5] During the Crusader period, the village was given as fief by Baldwin V of Jerusalem to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.[9] After the Crusaders were defeated by the Ayyubid forces of Saladin in 1187, the church was destroyed and the village was abandoned.[5]

Ottoman era[edit]

The region had been part of the Ottoman Empire since 1517 and after Beitin was reestablished, the town came under the administration of the Mutasarrif ("Governorate") of Jerusalem.[10][citation needed] In the early 19th century, people from Transjordan and other places migrated to Beitin[5][11] and built a mosque near the church's old site.[12]

In 1863 Victor Guérin found the village to have 400 inhabitants,[13] while an Ottoman village list from about 1870 showed that Beitin had a population of 140, in a total of 55 houses, though that population count included men, only.[14]

In 1882 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Beitin as a village "built on the side of a flat spur which rises slightly on the north. On the south-east is a flat dell, with good fig and pomegranate gardens, and there are other fig-trees round the village and among the houses. The cottages have a ruinous appearance, with rough stone walls. There is one square white house in two stories, which is visible from a great distance. The ground is very open, and the slopes gentle; the village slopes down gradually south-east. The surrounding ground is quite bare of trees, of white chalk, very barren and stony on the south; of hard limestone cropping up on the north; the fields divided off by low drystone walls. The contrast of the grey rocks, the red ploughland and the dark green figs is very striking. The remains of a good-sized tower exist towards the north, and on the south the walls of a church of Crusading date, once dedicated to St. Joseph. The population is stated at 400. The place is supplied from a fine spring on the south, which wells up in a circular basin. The spring is double, and was surrounded with a large reservoir, 314 feet long north-west and south-east, by 217 feet; of massive stones. The eastern and southern walls are standing about 10 feet high. The spring is perennial..." [15]

In 1907, small gardens and a few old tombs were found in the vicinity, and the Muslim population was known for its strength and fearlessness.[16]

British Mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Baitin had a population of 446; all Muslims,[17] increasing at the time of the 1931 census to 566, still all Muslim, in 135 houses.[18]

In 1945 the population was 690, all Muslims,[19] while the total land area was 4,764 dunams, according to an official land and population survey.[20] Of this, 1,348 were allocated for plantations and irrigable land, 1,853 for cereals,[21] while 38 dunams were classified as built-up areas.[22]

Modern era[edit]

In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and after the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Beitin came under Jordanian rule. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Beitin has, with the rest of the West Bank, been held under Israeli occupation. However, as of September 1995, the immediate region, now known as Area A, has come under collaborative or joint Israeli-Palestinian Authority (PA) administration,[23] with civil administration vested fully in the PA, but where occasional breaches in security matters (as of 2002) have fallen into the hands of Israeli Defense Forces for rectifying.[24]

On 19 December, 2011, Israeli settlers were accused of carrying out a second price tag attack in only four days, in which five Palestinian-owned cars were burnt and the walls of several houses were sprayed with graffiti.[25] During the first incident (15 December, 2011), the assailants not only vandalized a mosque, but also attacked an IDF military base in the West Bank, injuring a top Israeli commander.[26] According to witnesses of the second incident, the Israeli army dispersed the settlers without arresting any of them,[25] presumably also those who attacked the Israeli commander, although four days earlier the incident had prompted Israeli Prime-Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to say: "We won't let them attack our soldiers. We won't let them ignite a religious war with our neighbors. We won't let them desecrate mosques. We won't let them harm Jews or Arabs."[26]


Ruins of al-Burj, 1935

The ruins of the Byzantine church are known in Arabic as "al-Muqater" or "Khirbet al-Kenise" ("Ruins of the Church").[5][27] According to Röhricht, when the Crusaders arrived, they found a ruined church. They built another and placed it first under the Abbey of St. Joseph of Arimathea, later under the Canons of the Holy Sepulcher.[5][28] The ruins of the church were drawn in the 1880s.[29][30]

Another ruin, called "al-Burj Beitin" ("the Tower of Beitin") or simply al-Burj is located in the western part of the town.[5] They were also drawn in the 1880s.[31] The ruins of the Burj are about 1 meter tall, and apparently built on the older ruins of a Byzantine monastery.[32] Some have believed that it was constructed on the site where Abraham built an altar.[12][33] According to biblical scholar Edward Robinson who visited Palestine in the 19th century, al-Burj Beitin consisted of dilapidated stones that used to form part of a fortress and a Greek church.[6] Al-Burj was used as a watch tower by the Crusaders.[5]


Roadside view of Beitin, 2011

In 1945 the population of Beitin was 690, according to an official land and population survey.[20]

In 1997, Palestinian refugees accounted for exactly 30% of the population, which was 1,510 at the time.[34]

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Beitin had a population of over 3,050 inhabitants in 2006.[35] In 2007, a PCBS census recorded a population of 2,143 (1,128 men and 1,015 women). There were 717 homes in the village and the average household size consisted of 4.9 family members.[36]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 226
  2. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 2, pp. 128 -129
  3. ^ a b "Palestinian Cultural Sites: Beitin-Ramallah". Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC). Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2011-12-19. 
  4. ^ a b c "Site of the Week: Beitin". This Week In Palestine. 2007-07-09. Retrieved 2011-12-19. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Luza, also Bethel - (Beitin) Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem. 2000-12-19.
  6. ^ a b Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol. 2, pp. 125-130.
  7. ^ Easton, 1893, p. 94
  8. ^ Trisdam, 1865, pp. 164-166
  9. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 11
  10. ^ "Palestinian Places: Beitin". Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC). Retrieved 2011-12-19. 
  11. ^ Lutfiyya, 1966, p. 36
  12. ^ a b Visit Palestine: Bittin Visit Palestine.
  13. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 14-26
  14. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 148
  15. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 295-296
  16. ^ Grant, 1907, p. 218
  17. ^ Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Ramallah, p. 16
  18. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 47
  19. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 26
  20. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 64
  21. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 111
  22. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 161
  23. ^ 1995 Oslo Interim Agreement. Text of the Accord
  24. ^ Nahum Barnea, 'Beitunian nights: The IDF in the West Bank', Ynet 18 March 2016.
  25. ^ a b "Settlers burn 5 cars in Ramallah village". Ma'an News Agency. 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2011-12-19. 
  26. ^ a b Teibel, Amy (15 December 2011). "Jewish radicals get off hook in Israel". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  27. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 305
  28. ^ Röhricht, 1887, ZDPV 10, pp. 207, 292
  29. ^ Wilson, c1881, vol 1, pp. 219 (ill.), 221
  30. ^ Pringle, 1993, pp. 104 -105
  31. ^ Wilson, c1881, vol 1, p. 217 (ill.)
  32. ^ Finkelstein and Lederman, 1997, p. 522
  33. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 307
  34. ^ Palestinian Population by Locality and Refugee Status Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
  35. ^ Projected Mid -Year Population for Ramallah & Al Bireh Governorate by Locality 2004- 2006 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)
  36. ^ 2007 PCBS Census. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.114.


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