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Hattin, Hutin
Hittin, 1934
Hittin, 1934
Etymology: from personal name[1]
Hittin is located in Mandatory Palestine
Coordinates: 32°48′25″N 35°27′12″E / 32.80694°N 35.45333°E / 32.80694; 35.45333Coordinates: 32°48′25″N 35°27′12″E / 32.80694°N 35.45333°E / 32.80694; 35.45333
Palestine grid192/245
Geopolitical entityMandatory Palestine
Date of depopulation16–17 July 1948[4]
 • Total22,764 dunams (22.764 km2 or 8.789 sq mi)
 • Total1,190[2][3]
Cause(s) of depopulationFear of being caught up in the fighting
Secondary causeMilitary assault by Yishuv forces
Current LocalitiesArbel, Kefar Zetim

Hittin (Arabic: حطّين‎, transliterated Ḥiṭṭīn (Arabic: حِـطِّـيْـن‎) or Ḥaṭṭīn (Arabic: حَـطِّـيْـن‎)) was a Palestinian village located 8 kilometers (5 mi) west of Tiberias. As the site of the Battle of Hattin in 1187, in which Saladin conquered most of Palestine from the Crusaders, it has become an Arab nationalist symbol. The shrine of Nabi Shu'ayb, venerated by the Druze and Sunni Muslims as the tomb of Jethro, is on the village land. The village was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from the 16th century until the end of World War I, when Palestine became part of the British Mandate for Palestine. In the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the village was depopulated.


Horns of Hattin

Hittin was located on the northern slopes of the double hill known as the "Horns of Hattin." It was strategically and commercially significant due to its location overlooking the Plain of Hittin, which opens onto the coastal lowlands of Lake Tiberias to the east, and to the west is linked by mountain passes leading towards the plains of lower Galilee. These plains, with their east-west passages, served as routes for commercial caravans and military invasions throughout the ages.[5]


Archaeological excavations at the village have yielded pottery fragments from the Pottery Neolithic and Chalcolithic period.[6]

Bronze Age to Byzantine Period[edit]

An Early Bronze Age wall was excavated at the village.[6] The Arab village may have been built over the Canaanite town of Siddim or Ziddim (Joshua 19:35), which in the third century BCE acquired the Old Hebrew name Kfar Hittin ("village of grain"). It was known as Kfar Hittaya in the Roman period.[7][8] In the 4th century CE, it was a Jewish rabbinical town.[5]

Crusader/Ayyubid and Mamluk periods[edit]

Hittin was located near the site of the Battle of Hattin, where Saladin defeated the Crusaders in 1187.[9] It is described as having been near the base camp of Saladin's Ayyubid army, by Lieutenant-Colonel Claude Conder in Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (1897).[10]

Many prominent figures from the Islamic period in Palestine were born or buried in Hittin, according to early Arab geographers such as Yaqut al-Hamawi (1179–1229) and al-Ansari al-Dimashqi (1256–1327), who himself was called the Shaykh of Hittin. 'Ali al-Dawadari, the writer, Quranic exegetist, and calligrapher, died in the village in 1302.[5]

Ottoman period[edit]

In 1596, Hittin was a part of the Ottoman Nāḥiyah (Arabic: نَـاحِـيَـة‎, "Subdistrict") of Tiberias under the Liwā’ (Arabic: لِـوَاء‎, "District") of Safed. The villagers paid taxes on wheat, barley, olives, goats and beehives.[11][12] In 1646, the bulaydah (Arabic: بُـلَـيْـدَة‎, "small village") was visited by Evliya Çelebi, who described it as follows: "It is a village in the territory of Safad, consisting of 200 Muslim houses. No Druzes live here. It is like a flourishing little town (bulayda) abounding with vineyards, orchards and gardens. Water and air are refreshing. A large fair is held there once a week, when ten thousand men would gather from the neighbourhood to sell and buy. It is situated in a spacious valley, bordered on both sides by low rocks. There is a mosque, a public bath and a caravanserei in it."[13] Çelebi also reported that there was a shrine called the Teyké Mughraby, inhabited by over one hundred dervishes, which held the grave of Sheikh 'Imād ed-dīn, of the family of the prophet Shu'eib, who was reputed to have lived for two hundred years.[13]

Richard Pococke, who visited in 1727, writes that it is "famous for some pleasant gardens of lemon and orange trees; and here the Turks have a mosque, to which they pay great veneration, having, as they say, a great sheik buried there, whom they call Sede Ishab, who, according to tradition (as a very learned Jew assured me) is Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses."[14] Around this time and until the late 18th century, Hittin was a small village in the autonomous sheikhdom of Zahir al-Umar. In 1767, Zahir's son Sa'id sought to control Hittin and nearby Tur'an, but was defeated by his father. Nonetheless, Zahir granted Sa'id both villages when he pardoned him.[15] A map from Napoleon's invasion of 1799 by Pierre Jacotin showed the place, named as Hattin.[16]

Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss traveller to Palestine around 1817, noted Hittin as a village,[17] while in 1838 Edward Robinson described it as a small village of stone houses.[18] William McClure Thomson, who visited in the 1850s, found "gigantic" hedges of cactus surrounding Hittin. He reported that visiting the local shrine was considered a cure for insanity.[19]

In 1863 H. B. Tristram, wrote about the "bright faces and bright colours" he saw there, and the "peculiar" costumes: "long tight gowns, or cassocks, of scarlet silk, with diagonal yellow stripes, and generally a bright red and blue or yellow jacket over them; while their cheeks were encircled by dollars and piastres, after Nazareth fashion, and some of the more wealthy wore necklaces of gold coins, with a doubloon for pendant in front."[20] In 1875 Victor Guérin visited the village, mentioning in his writings that there was a local tradition that alleged that the tomb of Jethro (Neby Chaʾīb), the father-in-law of Moses, was to be found in the village.[21]

In 1881, the PEF's Survey of Western Palestine described Hittin as a large well-built village of stone, surrounded by fruit and olive trees. It had an estimated 400-700 villagers, all Muslim, who cultivated the surrounding plain.[22]

A population list from about 1887 showed Hattin to have about 1,350 inhabitants; 100 Jews and 1,250 Muslims.[23] An elementary school was established in the village around 1897.[5]

Conder writes in his Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (1897): "The place was surrounded by olives and fruit trees, and a good spring—copious and fresh—flowed on the northwest into the gorge of Wadi Hammam."[10]

In the early 20th-century, some of the village land in the eastern part of the Arbel Valley was sold to Jewish land purchase societies. In 1910, the first Jewish village, Mitzpa, was established there.[5]

British Mandate[edit]

Hittin during the British Mandate, by Fadil Saba, Nazareth

In 1924, the second Jewish village, Kfar Hittim, was established on land purchased from Hattin.[5]

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the Mandatory Palestine authorities, the population of Hattin was 889; 880 Muslims and 9 Jews,[24] increasing in the 1931 census to 931, all Muslims, in a total of 190 houses.[25]

In 1932 Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam and the local Palestinian leadership affiliated with the Istiqlal party inaugurated a celebration on the anniversary of Saladin's victory in Hittin. Hittin Day, held on August 27 of that year in the courtyard of a school in Haifa, was intended to be an anti-imperialist rally. It was attended by thousands of people from Palestine, Lebanon, Damascus, and Transjordan. The speeches delivered at the event centered around the independence of the Arab world and the importance of unity between Arab Muslims and Christians.[26]

In 1945, Hittin had a population of 1,190 Muslims[2] with a total land area of 22,764 dunams (22.764 km2), of which 22,086 dunams were Arab-owned and 147 dunams were Jewish-owned. The remaining 531 dunams were public property.[3] Cultivable land amounted to 12,426 dunams, while uncultivated land amounted to 10,268 dunams. Of the cultivated land, 1,967 dunams consisted of plantations and irrigable land, and 10,462 dunams were devoted to cereals.[27] The built-up area of the village was 70 dunams and it was populated entirely by Arabs.[28]

1948 War[edit]

In 1948 the village mukhtar was Ahmad ´Azzam Abu Radi. According to the villagers, they did not feel threatened by their Jewish neighbours at Kfar Hittim, who had visited in November 1947 after the UN vote in favor of the United Nations Partition Plan, and assured the villagers they did not want war.[29][30] There were 50 men in the village who had rifles, with 25-50 rounds of ammunition each.[29]

Mosque of Hittin, 2007

The villagers grew anxious listening to Radio Amman and Radio Damascus, but remained uninvolved until June 9, when Jewish fighters attacked the neighbouring village of Lubya and were repulsed. Shortly after an Israeli armoured unit, accompanied by infantry, advanced towards the village from the direction of Mitzpa. The attack was rebuffed, but all the local ammunition was used up.[31] On the night of July 16–17, almost all the inhabitants of the village evacuated. Many left for Sallama, between Deir Hanna and Maghar, leaving behind a few elderly people and 30-35 militiamen.[31] On July 17, Hittin was occupied by the Golani Brigade as part of Operation Dekel.[32] When the villagers tried to return, they were chased off. On one occasion, some men and pack animals were killed.[33]

The villagers remained at Salamah for almost a month, but as their food-supply dwindled and their hope of returning faded, they left together for Lebanon.[31] Some resettled in Nazareth. The Israeli government considered allowing 560 internally displaced Palestinians from Hittin and Alut to return to their villages, but the army objected to Hittin for security reasons.[34]

State of Israel[edit]

In 1949 and 1950, the Jewish villages of Arbel and Kfar Zeitim were founded on the lands of Hittin.[35] In the 1950s, the Druze community in Israel was given official custodianship over the Jethro shrine and 100 dunams of land around it. A request to build housing there for Druze soldiers was rejected. The Druze annual pilgrimage continued to be held and was officially recognized as a religious holiday by Israel in 1954.[36]

According to Ilan Pappé, a resident of Deir Hanna unsuccessfully applied to hold a summer camp on the site of the Hittin mosque, which he hoped to restore. The land is currently used as grazing pasture by the nearby kibbutzim. According to tradition, the mosque was built by Saladin in 1187 to commemorate his victory over the Crusaders.[37] In 2007, an Israeli-Palestinian advocacy organization, Zochrot, protested development plans that encroach on the site and threaten to "swallow up the abandoned remains of the Hittin village." [38]

Nabi Shu´ayb shrine, the tomb of Jethro[edit]

Ali of Herat wrote (c. 1173) that both Jethro and his wife were buried in Hittin. Yaqut al-Hamawi (1179–1229) wrote that another shrine near Arsuf that claimed to be the tomb of Shu´aib was misidentified.[39] Sunni Muslims and Druze would make ziyarat pilgrimages to Hittin to the tomb of Jethro, and the Druze celebration attracted members of their sect from other parts of the region of Syria.[36][38][when?]


In 1596 Hittin had a population of 605.[11] In the 1922 census of Palestine Hittin had a population of 889,[24] which rose to 931 in the 1931 census. There were 190 houses that year.[25][40] In 1945 the population was estimated at 1,190 Arabs.[3] The village had a number of large and influential families; Rabah, 'Azzam, Shaiyabtah, Sa'adah, Sha'ban, and Dahabra.[29]

Hittin -- panoramic view

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 126
  2. ^ a b Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 12
  3. ^ a b c d Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 72
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xvii, village #94. Also gives causes of depopulation.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Khalidi, 1992, p. 521.
  6. ^ a b Nimrod Getzov, 2007, Hittin, Volume 119, Year 2007, Israel Antiquities Authority
  7. ^ Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 1:1 (2a)
  8. ^ See p. 77 [21] in: Rosenfeld, Ben-Zion (1998). "Places of Rabbinic Settlement in the Galilee, 70-400 C.E.: Periphery versus Center". Hebrew Union College Annual (in Hebrew). 69: 57–103. JSTOR 23508858.
  9. ^ Lane-Poole, 1898, pp. 197 ff
  10. ^ a b Conder, 1897, p. 149
  11. ^ a b Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 190. Quoted in Khalidi, p. 521.
  12. ^ Note that Rhode, 1979, p. 6 writes that the register that Hütteroth and Abdul-Fattah studied was not from 1595/6, but from 1548/9
  13. ^ a b Stephan H. Stephan (1936). "Evliya Tshelebi's Travels in Palestine, III". The Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine. 5: 69–73.
  14. ^ Pococke, 1745, vol 2, p. 67
  15. ^ Joudah, 1987, pp. 51-52.
  16. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 166.
  17. ^ Burckhardt, 1822, pp. 319, 336
  18. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, p. 250
  19. ^ Thomson, 1859, vol 2, pp. 117-118
  20. ^ Tristram, 1865, p. 451
  21. ^ Guérin, 1880, pp. 190-191
  22. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p .360. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 521
  23. ^ Schumacher, 1888, p. 185
  24. ^ a b Barron, 1923, Table xi, Sub-district of Tiberias, p. 39
  25. ^ a b Mills, 1932, p. 82
  26. ^ Matthews, 2006, p. 153
  27. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 122
  28. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 172
  29. ^ a b c Nazzal, 1978, p. 84
  30. ^ A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mark Tessler, Indiana University Press
  31. ^ a b c Nazzal, 1978, p. 85
  32. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 423
  33. ^ Yehuda, Golani Brigade\Intelligence, Daily Summary 25-26.8, IDFA 1096\49\\64. Cited in Morris, 2004, p. 445
  34. ^ Masalha, 2005, p. 107
  35. ^ Khalidi, 1992, p. 523
  36. ^ a b Firro, 1999, p. 236
  37. ^ Pappé, 2006, p. 218
  38. ^ a b Nicolle, 1993, p. 91[dead link]
  39. ^ le Strange, 1890, p.450, p.451
  40. ^ Bitan, 1982, p. 101.


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