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Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic صوريف
Surif is located in the Palestinian territories
Location of Surif within the Palestinian territories
Coordinates: 31°39′02″N 35°03′58″E / 31.65056°N 35.06611°E / 31.65056; 35.06611Coordinates: 31°39′02″N 35°03′58″E / 31.65056°N 35.06611°E / 31.65056; 35.06611
Palestine grid 156/117
Governorate Hebron
 • Type City
 • Head of Municipality Ahmad Lafi
 • Jurisdiction 15,034 dunams (15.0 km2 or 5.8 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 • Jurisdiction 13,365

Surif (Arabic: صوريف‎‎) is a Palestinian City in the Hebron Governorate located 25 km northwest of the city of Hebron. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics census, Surif had a population of 17,650 in 2016.[1] The population is entirely Muslim.

Most of the town's 15,000 dunams is used for agriculture, in particular, olives, wheat and barley.[2] There are seven mosques and four schools located in its vicinity.

Ahmad Lafi is the mayor.[3]

Example of traditional Palestinian cross-stitch from Surif (2006)

British Mandate Era[edit]

According to a census conducted in 1922 by the British Mandate authorities, Surif had a population of 1265 inhabitants, all Muslims.[4] increasing in the 1931 census to 1640, in 344 inhabited houses.[5]

Modern era[edit]

The Government of Israel and representatives of the Palestinian Arab peoples reached an agreement in September of 1995 in what became known as the Oslo Accords, and which ultimate aim was to relegate administrative authority among the different sectors of the Palestinian Arab population, in collaboration with Israel. However, Surif's close proximity to Jewish settlements in the region, and Jewish security concerns resulting therefrom, has resulted in Surif being designated as Area C, in which designation the Palestinian Authority has no say in security concerns relating to Surif and to its immediate environs. While the town's inhabitants are permitted to seek redress of court-related issues in places administered by the Palestinian Authority, any serious breaches in security are handled by the IDF.

Role in Israeli–Palestinian conflict[edit]

Many of Surif's youth joined Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni's Army of the Holy War against the British and later against the Haganah during the 1947–48 civil war between Arabs and Jews in Mandatory Palestine.[6] A better known episode from this period is the firefight in which armed men from Surif and neighbouring Jaba', reinforced by militiamen from a training centre located in Surif, killed all 35 members of the "Mountain Platoon" sent by the Haganah to provide relief to Jewish settlements uphill from Surif. The operation is known in Israel as the "Convoy of 35".

In the 1980s, 90s and again after 2010, a number of members of Surif's Ghanimat clan have been convicted for murders related to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

In 1985, already before the First Intifada, members of the clan were convicted for the murder of several Israeli citizens.[7]

In 1997, Musa Abd al-Qadir Ghanimat murdered three young Israeli women in a Tel Aviv café, in what has been described as either a suicide bombing or possibly as an intended time-bomb attack in which the timer malfunctioned, killing also the perpetrator.[8] He was part of a Hamas cell led by Ibrahim Ghanimat, who was pursued by Israel for eight years and finally captured in 2005. The Israeli authorities have convicted members of the cell, sometimes called the "Surif squad", for the murder of a total of eleven Israelis killed between 1995-1997.[7][9][10] Another Ghanimat member of the cell is Abd al-Rahman Ismail Ghanimat, who was sentenced to 5 life terms in prison for a number of terror attacks including the murder of Yaron and Efrat Ungar, but was released in 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. While under arrest, Abd al-Rahman Ghanimat's interrogators used procedures deemed illegal by Amnesty International, but defended by the Israeli authorities in light of the continuing threat of further fatal attacks.[11][12][13] Not a Ghanimat, but a top member of the cell nevertheless, was Riad Abu Hamadia, sentenced in 1998 to four consecutive life sentences for his part in attacks leading to the death of nine Israelis, soldiers as well as civilians.[14] Apart from prison sentences, the Israeli army demolished at least four houses belonging to the terrorists and their families.[7]

In 2010 a criminal gang run by Kifah Ghanimat decided to expand its actions inside Israel by committing terror attacks. This decision came after the assassination of senior Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January 2010, allegedly by Israeli Mossad agents. The cell stabbed two women to death in two separate opportunistic attacks, a third woman surviving with multiple stabbing wounds and broken bones due to the savage beating she received. Once captured, Kifah and Ibrahim Ghanimat admitted to the two murders, Kifah Ghanimat also admitting to raping at knifepoint another women in 2009 (this Ibrahim Ghanimat is a different person from his namesake arrested in 2005). Four gang members of the initially suspected thirteen were tried and sentenced to prison, the two Ghanimats for life.[15][16]


  1. ^ 'Localities in Hebron Governorate by Type of Locality and Population Estimates, 2007-2016 ,' Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2016.
  2. ^ The Segregation Separation Wall hits the lands of Surif and Khibet Ad Deir- Hebron district Land Research Center 2004-10-24
  3. ^ Huge new Israeli settlement in West Bank condemned by US and UK
  4. ^ Barron, 1923, p. 10
  5. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 33
  6. ^ Surif Article In Arabic
  7. ^ a b c LoLordo, Ann (29 April 1997). "Village Pays For The Acts Of A Few". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  8. ^ LoLordo, Ann (13 April 1997). "2 Israeli families find common bond in death Hamas cell accused of killing their children and nine others". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 20 December 2014. Israeli security and military officials now believe that the suspected bomber didn't intend to kill himself in the incident. They say the timing device misfired and Musa Ghanimat, a father of four, died accidentally. 
  9. ^ "Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S)" (PDF). Center for Special Studies (C.S.S). 12 October 2005. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Weiss, Efrad (10 November 2005). "Senior Hamas fugitive nabbed". YNet. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Document - Israel: Torture / fear of torture: 'Abd Al-Rahman Isma'il Ghanimat, worker, aged 27". Amnesty International. 15 March 1998. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Torture and new concern: Health concern". Amnesty International. 20 August 1998. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Second Periodic Report of Israel Concerning the Implementation of The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel- Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 1 March 1998. Retrieved 20 December 2014. It is clear therefore that the methods of interrogation used against Mr. Ghanimat were necessary in order to obtain as quickly as possible information that was essential in uncovering further terrorist actions, which would have led to the loss of further civilian lives. 
  14. ^ Dudkevitch, Margot (4 May 1998). "Tsurif Gang member gets 4 life terms". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  15. ^ Efraim, Omri (26 January 2011). "Police: Palestinian cell murdered US tourist". Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  16. ^ Rosenberg, Oz (24 November 2011). "Jerusalem court hands life sentences to Palestinians who killed American tourist". Haaretz. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 


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