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Qalunya, before 1949
Qalunya is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic قالونيا
Name meaning from the Latin Colonia[1]
Also spelled Qaluniya, Colonia, Kolonia
Subdistrict Jerusalem
Coordinates 31°47′39″N 35°9′27″E / 31.79417°N 35.15750°E / 31.79417; 35.15750Coordinates: 31°47′39″N 35°9′27″E / 31.79417°N 35.15750°E / 31.79417; 35.15750
Palestine grid 165/133
Population 1,056 (1948)
Area 4,844 dunams
Date of depopulation early April, 1948,[2]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Mevaseret Zion

Qalunya (Arabic: قالونيا‎‎, also transliterated Qaluniya, Colonia and Kolonia) was a Palestinian Arab village located 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) west of Jerusalem.[3]

Prior to the village's destruction in 1948, with the exception of 166 dunams, Qalunya's land was privately owned: 3,594 dunams were owned by Arabs, while 1,084 dunams were owned by Jews.[citation needed]


Qalunya stood on a mountain slope, facing southwest; Wadi Qalunya passed through its eastern edge. The village lay on the Jerusalem-Jaffa highway, and a dirt path linked it to its neighboring villages.[4] Qalunya was located near the Jewish town of Motza. Motza is now an outlying neighborhood of Jerusalem, and ruins of demolished buildings from Qalunya are present near Motza, covered in vegetation, just off the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.


Qalunya is identified with the Canaanite town of Mozah (Joshua 18:26), its name was found stamped on pottery handles in Tall al-Nasba. during First and Second Temple periods Mozah was a Jewish village known for its willows[5] that were used at the Temple of Jerusalem, the village was destroyed in the First Jewish–Roman War. After A.D. 71 Vespasian settled 800 Roman soldiers in the town, which became a Roman settlement known as Colonia Amosa or Colonia Emmaus.[4]

The word colonia produced the Byzantine name, Koloneia, for the site. The status of the site in the early Islamic period has not been established, but the name was preserved in Crusader times as Qalonie or Qalunia and in Arabic as Qalunya. Mujir al-Din al-Hanbali reported that in 1192 it was a village near Jerusalem.[6]

It has also been suggested that Qalunya was Emmaus.[7] The site is the correct distance from Jerusalem to match the story told in the New Testament (Luke 24:13-35). The village where Vespasian settled the 800 veterans was known as Emmaus at that time. The new military colony completely eclipsed the title town and its name was lost to history. During the Byzantine period the name Emmaus was not in use so the Byzantine Christians did not know of it. The tradition of Emmaus was attached to Emmaus-Nicopolis instead.[8]

Ottoman era[edit]

In 1596, Qalunya was a village in the Ottoman Empire, nahiya (subdistrict) of Jerusalem under the liwa' (district) of Jerusalem, and it had a population of 110. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat, barley and olives, as well as on goats, beehives and molasses.[9]

In 1863 Victor Guérin found it to be a village of 500 inhabitants,[10] while an Ottoman village list from about 1870 found that kalonije had a population of 120, in 43 houses, though the population count included men, only.[11]

In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described Qalunya as being a moderate-sized village perched on the slope of a hill, 300 feet (91 m) above a valley. Travelers reported that it had a "modern" restaurant. The villagers tended orange and lemon trees that were planted around a spring in the valley.[12] To the west of the restaurant were ruins, possible of Byzantine origin.[13]

In the 1890s, Jews purchased some of Qalunya's farmlands, and established the village of Motza, the first Jewish settlement outside Jerusalem.[14]

British Mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Qalunieh (Qalonia) had a population 549; 456 Muslims, 88 Jews and 5 Orthodox Christians,[15][16] increasing in the 1931 census to 632, 632 Muslims and 10 Christians; in a total of 156 houses.[17]

During the 1929 Palestine riots, several residents of Qalunya attacked an outlying house in Motza belonging to the Maklef family, killing the father, mother, son, two daughters, and their two guests. Three children survived by escaping out a second-story window; one, Mordechai Maklef, later became Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army. The attackers included the lone police officer and armed man in the area, as well as a shepherd employed by the Maklef family. The village was subsequently abandoned by Jews for a year's time.[18]

In 1945, Qalunya had a population of 900 Muslims and 10 Christians, while Motza had a population of 350 Jews.[19] The total land area was 4,844 dunams.[20] A total of 1,224 dunums of land were irrigated or used for plantations, 955 were used for cereals;[21] while 227 dunams were classified as built-up areas.[22]

1948, and after[edit]

Qalunya panorama 10th April 1948

On 11 April 1948, as part of Operation Nachshon, Hagana forces entered the village and blew up 50 houses.[23] According to Ilan Pappe, Qalunya was one of four villages that were systematically destroyed by Hagana units in this fashion in the immediate wake of the Deir Yassin massacre; the others being, Beit Surik, Biddu and Saris.[23]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 321
  2. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xx, village #359. Also gives the cause of depopulation.
  3. ^ "Qalunya". Palestine Remembered. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  4. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, p. 309
  5. ^ Wheaton, Gerry (2015-02-26). The Role of Jewish Feasts in John's Gospel. Cambridge University Press. p. 140. ISBN 9781316299753. 
  6. ^ Al:Khalidi 1968:181, Cited in Khalidi, 1992, p.309
  7. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 40
  8. ^ Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome (2008). The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. (5th Edition ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 362–363. ISBN 978-0-19-923666-4. 
  9. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 118. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 309
  10. ^ Guérin, 1868, pp. 257-262
  11. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 155
  12. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 17. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 309
  13. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 132
  14. ^ Ochs, Juliana (2011-06-06). Security and Suspicion: An Ethnography of Everyday Life in Israel. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 31. ISBN 0812205685. 
  15. ^ Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Jerusalem, p. 14
  16. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XIV, p. 45
  17. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 42
  18. ^ Segev, 2013, p. 324
  19. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 25
  20. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 58
  21. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 103
  22. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 153
  23. ^ a b Pappe, 2006, p. 91.


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