Remains of the Suba village square and surrounding buildings, formerly the Belmont Castle courtyard
|Name meaning||The heap|
|Also spelled||Soba, Sobetha, Zova|
|Date of depopulation||13 July 1948|
|Cause(s) of depopulation||Military assault by Yishuv forces|
|Current localities||Tzova, Yedida school|
Suba (Arabic: صوبا) was a Palestinian Arab village west of Jerusalem that was depopulated and destroyed in 1948. The site of the village lies on the summit of a conical hill called Tel Tzova (Hebrew: תל צובה), or Jabal Suba, rising 769 metres above sea level, and it was built on the ruins of a Crusader castle.
Belmont castle was excavated by archaeologists in 1986-9. Middle Bronze Age cairn-tombs have been excavated in the neighborhood of the ruined Arab village, though the site itself has not yielded artifacts from before the late Iron Age. The place can perhaps be identified with Σωρης mentioned in the Greek version of Josh. 15:59. There has also been a tentative identification with the Tzova in 1 Samuel 14:47 and 2 Samuel 23:36. In the later Roman period, the site was mentioned in rabbinical sources as Seboim. Until the mid-19th century, Christian pilgrims mistakenly identified the site with Modi'in, the origin of the Maccabees.
It has been suggested that Suba was Subahiet, one of 21 villages given by King Godfrey as a fief to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In 1114, the gift was re-confirmed by Baldwin I of Jerusalem.
Sometime before 1169, the Crusaders built a castle there called Belmont, run by the Hospitallers. In 1170 an unnamed castellan was mentioned. Today, parts of the northern and western Crusader wall remain, as well as ruins of a tower and other structures. These include large underground cisterns, some pre-dating the Crusader period.
Belmont Castle was taken by Saladin in 1187. According to the chronicles it was destroyed by him in 1191 but no trace of the destruction was located during the archaeological investigation.
Suba, like the rest of Palestine, was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and in the tax registers of 1596, there were 60 Muslim and 7 Christian families living there. The village economy relied on wheat, barley, olives and grapes.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the village was controlled by the Abu Ghosh family. The Crusader walls and the fortifications they built in the village were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha in 1834.
The French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village on 30 April 1863. An Ottoman village list of about 1870 showed that Suba had 33 houses and a population of 112, though the population count included only men.
British Mandate era
In 1945 the population of Suba was 620, all Arabs, who owned 4,082 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey. 1,435 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 712 for cereals, while 16 dunams were built-up (urban) land.
1948, and after
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the village saw fierce fighting, due to its key location near the Jerusalem highway. In late 1947 and early 1948, irregular forces of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood stationed in Suba took part in the fighting against Jewish forces, including attacks on Jewish traffic on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road. The village was attacked several times by the Haganah, and finally conquered by the Palmach during the night of July 12–13 as part of Operation Danny. Most of the inhabitants had fled during the fighting, and those who remained were expelled. In October 1948, the "Ameilim" group of Palmach veterans established a kibbutz called Misgav Palmach on village lands 1 km to the south. Later it was renamed Tzova.
Today Tel Tzova is a national park surrounded by the lands of the kibbutz. The ruins of the village are visible along with remains of Belmont Castle.
The history of the village of Suba is the subject of two books, one by Ibrahim ‘Awadallah published in Amman, Jordan in 1996, and another by Muhammad Sa’id Muslih Rumman in the West Bank, published in 2000.
- Palmer, 1881, p. 329
- Morris, 2004, p. xx, village #353. Also gives cause of depopulation.
- Morris, 2004, p. xxi, settlement #32.
- R.P. Harper and D. Pringle (2000), Belmont Castle, The excavation of a Crusader Stronghold in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-727009-3
- R.P. Harper and D. Pringle, Belmont Castle: A historical notice and preliminary report of excavations in 1986, Levant, Vol XX, 1988, pp 101-118. Same authors, Belmont Castle 1987 : Second preliminary report of excavations, Levant, Vol XXI, 1989, pp 47-62.
- TFBA - Directory of Projects: Suba Excavations
- Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 11
- Conder, 1890, p. 32
- de Roziére, 1849, p. 263, cited in Röhricht, 1893, RRH, pp. 16 - 17, No 74
- Röhricht, 1893, RHH, p. 85, No. 329
- Röhricht, 1904, RHH Ad, p. 22, No. 379b
- Pringle, 1998, p. 332
- Röhricht, 1893, RHH, p. 126-7, No. 480
- Conder and Kitchener, SWP III, pp. 157 -158
- Pringle, 1997, p. 96
- Abü Shâmâ (RHC Or, iv), p. 303
- Ambroise, 1897, p. 407, lines 6835 -69
- le Strange, 1890, p. 538
- Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 115
- Khalidi, 1992, pp. 317-319.
- Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p.18.
- Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 2, pp. 328-330
- Guérin, 1868, pp. 265 -278
- Socin, 1879, p. 161
- Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Jerusalem, p. 15
- Mills, 1932, p. 43
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 58
- Khalidi, 1992, p. 316
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 104
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 154
- Morris, 2004, p. 436
- Rochelle Davis: Peasant Narratives Memorial Book Sources for Jerusalem Village History, January 2004, Issue 20 Jerusalem Quarterly
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Suba.|
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- Barron, J. B., ed. (1923). Palestine: Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1922 (PDF). Government of Palestine.
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- Conder, C. R. (1890). "Norman Palestine". Quarterly statement - Palestine Exploration Fund 22: 29–37.
- Clermont-Ganneau, Charles Simon (1899). [ARP] Archaeological Researches in Palestine 1873-1874, translated from the French by J. McFarlane 1. London: Palestine Exploration Fund. p. 480-481
- Dauphin, Claudine (1998). La Palestine byzantine, Peuplement et Populations. BAR International Series 726 (in French). III : Catalogue. Oxford: Archeopress. (p. 902)
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- Pringle, Denys (1998). The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: Volume II L-Z (exluding Tyre). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0 521 39037 0.
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- RHC Or: Recueil des historiens des croisades : Historiens orientaux (in French) 4. Paris: Imprimerie nationale. 1898.
- Röhricht, Reinhold (1893). (RRH) Regesta regni Hierosolymitani (MXCVII-MCCXCI) (in Latin). Berlin: Libraria Academica Wageriana.
- Röhricht, Reinhold (1904). (RRH Ad) Regesta regni Hierosolymitani Additamentum (in Latin). Berlin: Libraria Academica Wageriana.
- de Roziére, ed. (1849). Cartulaire de l'église du Saint Sépulchre de Jérusalem: publié d'après les manuscrits du Vatican (in Latin and French). Paris: Imprimerie nationale.
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- le Strange, Guy (1890). Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Welcome To Suba
- Survey of Western Palestine, Map 17: IAA, Wikimedia commons
- Suba from the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center