|Name meaning||from personal name|
|Also spelled||Selebi, Shaalvim, Shaalbim, Shaalabbin|
|Date of depopulation||15–16 July 1948|
|Cause(s) of depopulation||Military assault by Yishuv forces|
Salbit (Arabic: سلبيت) was a Palestinian Arab village located 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) southeast of al-Ramla. It has been identified with the biblical town of Shaalabbin (also, Shaalbim) which was located 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) northwest of biblical Aijalon (modern day Yalo). Salbit was depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War after a military assault by Israeli forces. The Israeli locality of Shaalvim was established on the former village's lands in 1951.
In 1883 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine tentatively identified Shaalabbin with Salbit. Shaalabbin is mentioned in Joshua 19:42 as a city of the southern Dan whereas in the Septuagint (LXX) it is mentioned as one of the cities in which the Amorites continued to dwell after the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. The name has no obvious Hebrew derivation and may be a survival of a form of pre-Canaanite speech. Shaalbim is also mentioned in 1 Kings 4:9 as an area under the administration of Ben-Deker, one of twelve officers who is said to have paid tribute to King Solomon, and in Judges 1:35.
In 1949, archaeologists excavated the remains of a Samaritan synagogue there that was dated to the late 4th or early 5th century. Measuring 15.4 x 8 metres, its mosaic floor contains one Greek inscriptions and two in Samaritan. In the centre of the mosaic is a mountain which is thought to be a depiction of Mount Gerizim, a place holy to Samaritans. Rectangular in shape, the synagogue was longitudinally aligned more or less with Mount Gerizim.
In 1883 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described Selbit: "Foundations and caves. The ruins are extensive. A square building stands in the middle. There is a ruined reservoir lined with cement, and walls of rubble."
British Mandate era
In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Selbit had a population of 296, all Muslims, increasing in the 1931 census, when it was counted together with Bayt Shanna, to 406, still all Muslims, in a total of 71 houses.
The houses in Salbit were made of adobe and stone and were grouped around the village center where the mosque, suq and elementary school was located. The school, built in 1947, had 47 students. The villagers made their living by agriculture and the raising of livestock. The village's drinking water came from a local well.
In 1945 the population was 510, all Muslims, while the total land area was 6,111 dunams, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, a total of 4,066 dunums of land were used for cereals, 16 dunums were plantations or irrigated land, while 31 dunams were classified as built-up public areas.
1948 war and aftermath
During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and the 1948 Palestinian exodus from Lydda and Ramle, some of those forcibly expelled were bussed to Latrun on the front lines and from there ordered to walk northward to Salbit. The Lydda death march, as it came to be known, brought hundreds of refugee families to Salbit where they took shelter in a fig grove and were given water and rest for the night before trucks from the Arab Legion began moving some of the families to a Palestinian refugee camp in Ramallah.
Salbit itself was depopulated after a military assault by Israeli forces on 15–16 July 1948. After its depopulation, Israeli forces headed by Yigal Allon used it as a base from which to launch an attack on the strategic hill of Latrun on 18 July, which was spurned by the forces of the Arab Legion who managed to hold on to the site without inflicting any casualties on the Israeli forces. The village structures of Salbit were subsequently completely destroyed, and according to Walid Khalidi, all that remains of the village today are "some cactus plants and shrubs." The estimated number of Palestinian refugees from Salbit as of 1998 was 3,633.
- Palmer, 1881, p. 326
- Taylor, 1993, p. 68
- Smith, 1857, p. 972.
- Morris, 2004, p. xix village #239. Also gives cause of depopulation.
- "Salbit". Palestine Remembered. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- Cooke, 2008, p. 185.
- Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, pp. 53-54
- Barnes, 1932, p. 31.
- Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, p. 20.
- Stemburger and Tuschling, 2000, p. 228
- Pringle, 1998, p. 114
- Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 157
- Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Jerusalem, p. 15
- Mills, 1932, p. 43
- Khalidi, 1992, p. 410.
- Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 30
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 68
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 117.
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 167
- Sandy Tolan (20 July 2008). "Palestinian Nakba in al-Ramla". Palestine Media Center (Original from Al Jazeera English). Retrieved 2009-04-28.
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- Cooke, George Albert (2010). The Book of Joshua - In the Revised Version with Introduction and Notes. READ BOOKS. ISBN 978-1-4455-4638-4. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- Department of Statistics (1945). Village Statistics, April, 1945. Government of Palestine.
- Hadawi, Sami (1970). Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine. Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center
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- Mills, E., ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas (PDF). Jerusalem: Government of Palestine.
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- Palmer, E. H. (1881). The Survey of Western Palestine: Arabic and English Name Lists Collected During the Survey by Lieutenants Conder and Kitchener, R. E. Transliterated and Explained by E.H. Palmer. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Pringle, Denys (1998). The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: L-Z (exluding Tyre). II. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0 521 39037 0.
- Robinson, Edward; Smith, Eli (1841). Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai and Arabia Petraea: A Journal of Travels in the year 1838. 3. Boston: Crocker & Brewster.
- Smith, William (1857). "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography: Iabadius-Zymethus". v. 2. Little, Brown and Co
- Stemberger, Günter (2000). Jews and Christians in the Holy Land: Palestine in the fourth century. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0567-23050-3. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
- Tal, David (2004). War in Palestine, 1948: strategy and diplomacy. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7146-5275-7. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- Taylor, Joan E. (1993). Christians and the holy places: the myth of Jewish-Christian origins. Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-814785-5. Retrieved 2 May 2011.