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Khirbet al-Mukhayyat

Khirba is an Arabic term that refers to a secondary or satellite village on the outskirts of an agricultural village.[1] The khirba was used intermittently during the year, primarily during the plowing or harvest seasons.[2]

The term is often misunderstood: it is commonly believed to indicate a "ruin" or "abandoned village", which is the meaning of Hurvat, the parallel term in Hebrew.[3] In fact, the term refers to land that was uncultivated or unfit for cultivation, and thus of low value.[1]


Hamlets known as khirba became widespread in Palestine in the early 20th century. They consisted of a few huts on outlying agricultural land that were inhabited on a seasonal basis. A "mother" village in the hills might have a "daughter" village in the plains.[4] From the 1920s onward, many of them developed into independent villages. In cases where the khirba was established very close to the main village, the khirba sometimes became a neighborhood within the village.[2]

As a defense against Bedouin raids, many villagers in Ottoman Palestine built homes in the central hills and descended to the plains seasonally to sow crops and harvest them.[5] The satellite villages they used at these times began to grow as the population drifted westward.[6]


  1. ^ a b A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel, Gudrun Kramer and Graham Harman
  2. ^ a b Transformation in Arab Settlement, Moshe Brawer, in The Land that Became Israel: Studies in Historical Geography, Ruth Kark (ed), Magnes Press, Jerusalem 1989, p. 174
  3. ^ Shuli Hartman, "Like water for the thirsty…" Renewable Energy Systems in Palestinian Communities in the South Hebron Hills, November 2012, Comet Middle East. "Khirbeh: a small village or hamlet. This is the term applied to the small subsidiary villages of Yatta. Note that this word should not be confused with the similar sounding Hebrew word 'churbah' meaning a ruin (ruins). Ruins are also found within the misfera. A khirbeh might be located near such ruins. But just as well it might be located at a site where there are none."
  4. ^ Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900, Beshara Doumani
  5. ^ The Peasantry of Late Ottoman Palestine, James Reilly, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Summer, 1981), pp. 82-97
  6. ^ Politics in Palestine: Arab factionalism and social disintegration, 1939-1948 Issa Khalaf