PLace

Bayt Umm al-Mays

Place
Bayt Umm al-Mays — بَيْت أُم المَيْس
Known also as: Khirbat Umm al-Mays
District
Jerusalem
Average Elevation
650 m
Subdistrict
Jerusalem
Distance from Jerusalem
14 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1944/45 70 70
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Public Total
1944/45 1013 1013
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Total
Non-Cultivable 687 687
Built-up 2 2
689 689 (68%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Total
Cereal 273 273
Plantation and Irrigable 51 51
324 324 (32%)

Bayt Umm al-Mays was situated in a mountainous area facing northwest, and was bordered by two deep wadis to the northeast and southwest which met just northwest of the village. This combination of high elevation and deep wadis on three sides conferred upon the village a degree of strategic importance. A secondary road linked the village to the Jerusalem−Jaffa highway and to the villages of Suba and al-Qastal. It was known during the Crusader period by the name "Beittelamus." The layout of the village was trapezoidal, and its older houses, which were built of stone, were clustered closely together. The newer houses extended to the southeast, towards the mountain that overlooked the village on the south. Bayt Umm al-Mays was classified during the Mandate era as a hamlet by the Palestine Index Gazetteer. Its inhabitants were Muslim. Potable water was provided by two springs southwest of the village. The agricultural economy was based on the growing of grain and fruit, particularly grapes. Crops were watered by rainfall and irrigated by water drawn from springs. Part of the village land was used as grazing areas for sheep and goats. Most of the agricultural land was south of the village, while vineyards and fruit orchards covered the mountain slopes. In 1944/45 a total of 273 dunums was allotted to cereals; 51 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. Several khirbas were located near the site.

While the circumstances of the occupation of this village are not known, it was almost certainly captured during Operation ha-Har (see 'Allar, Jerusalem District), the thrust into the southern part of the Jerusalem corridor after the second truce. Israeli historian Benny Morris indicates that it fell on 21 October 1948, probably to the Har'el Brigade.

There are no Israeli settlements on village lands.

The site is covered with wild grass that grows around the remains of stone terraces. A few almond, olive, and fig trees also grow along the terraces. The dried-out stems of vines can be seen among the grass. The remains of a demolished house, which include fragments of an archway, stand at the northern end of the village; the ruins of another house stand at a short distance from the southern end, near a well. Two caves can be seen in the west. There are two very large stone slabs standing at the southern edge of the site, surrounded by bushes.