PLace

Bayt Thul

Place
Bayt Thul — بَيْت ثُول
District
Jerusalem
Average Elevation
825 m
Subdistrict
Jerusalem
Distance from Jerusalem
15.5 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1944/45 260
1931 182
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Jewish Public Total
1944/45 4205 421 3 4629
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable 3350 231 3 3584
Built-up 13
3363 231 3 3597 (78%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Total
Cereal 787 190 977
Plantation and Irrigable 55 55
842 190 1032 (22%)
Number of Houses (1931)
43

The village stood on the western peak of a mountain range that stretched in an east−west direction. It overlooked the coastal plain, to the west. Two deep wadis ran to the northwest along the northern and southern perimeters of Bayt Thul. It was about 2 km north of the Jerusalem−Jaffa highway and was linked to it by a secondary road. Similar roads linked it to six nearby villages. Bayt Thul is identified with Bayt Tun in the 1596 Ottoman tax records. It was a village in the nahiya of Jerusalem (liwa' of Jerusalem) with a population of sixty-six. It paid taxes on wheat, barley, olive trees, pasture, goats, and beehives. The village had a rectangular configuration. It was divided into two main sections, one on the east and another on the west, flanking the village center, where shops, a mosque, and a shrine (maqam) were built. Most of its houses were built of stone; some were partially constructed of reused stones and columns from previous settlements. The villagers were Muslims. Most of them worked in agriculture, growing crops such as grain, vegetables, olives, and fruits. Their agricultural lands lay to the north, east, and south of the village, and were watered mainly by rainfall, although some orchards in the south were irrigated from spring. Olive trees covered two dunums of their land. In 1944/45 a total of 787 dunums was allotted to cereals; 55 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. There were some archaeological remains in the village, such as columns and the foundations of ruined buildings. Four khirbas in the vicinity contained cisterns, formerly inhabited caves, and the foundations of buildings.

Many of the villages on both sides of the coastal road to Jerusalem east of al-Ramla, including Bayt Thul, were occupied during Operation Nachshon (see Bayt Naqquba, Jerusalem District), which was launched in early April 1948. But some villages fell in subsequent weeks during the smaller sub-operations that focused on the occupation of the strategic town of al-Latrun. Among the villages occupied fairly early was Saris, a few km to the south of Bayt Thul, as well as Dayr Yasin, somewhat further east. While Bayt Thul itself may have been affected by the massacre at Dayr Yasin, it probably fell a few weeks later in the operations which followed Nachshon (Har'el, Makkabi, Ben-Nun, and so on). Like nearby Dayr Ayyub, it may have changed hands more than once in the course of May and June. What is certain is that it was firmly in Israeli hands by mid-July. On 18 July, Israeli forces used the village as a launching point for a failed attempt to capture the village of Safa in the final hours before the beginning of the second truce.

The settlement of Nataf (156137) was founded on village land in 1982. Newe Ilan (158135), established in 1946, is close by, to the southeast, on lands that traditionally belonged to the village of Abu Ghawsh.

Piles of rubble are spread over a wide area on the hill. The remains of walls can be seen, with thick wild grass growing among them. Carob, cactuses, and olive and almond trees grow on terraces on the west and north sides of the site. The ruins of a large house are on the eastern side of the site, surrounded by a dilapidated wall. Two wells, carved in the rock, are still used by Palestinians who have remained in the area (see photos). Graves on the southern edge of the village are covered with weeds. A memorial has been erected for two Israeli pilots whose plane crashed on the site. A small forest on the site is dedicated to the memory of Miriam and Yehuda Lev Blichman; another forest on the site is dedicated to Hadassah/Canada. (Hadassah is the Women's Zionist Organization of America; it carries out public relations campaigns for Israel and raises money for the state.)