PLace

Sar'a

Place
Sar'a — صَرْعَة
District
Jerusalem
Average Elevation
350 m
Subdistrict
Jerusalem
Distance from Jerusalem
25 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1944/45 340 340
1931 271 271
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Public Total
1944/45 4964 3 4967
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable 1775 3 1778
Built-up 16 16
1791 3 1794 (36%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Total
Cereal 2979 2979
Plantation and Irrigable 194 194
3173 3173 (64%)
Number of Houses (1931)
65

The village was located on a prominent hill on the western slope of a mountain. A short (2 km) side road linked the village to a highway that ran northeast from Bayt Jibrin (a main village in the Hebron district) and intersected with the Jerusalem−Jaffa highway. Sar'a may have been built on the site of the Canaanite city of Sur'a, or Zorah, subsequently a Danite town (Joshua 15:33). It was known as Sarea during the Roman period. In 1596, Sar'a was a village in the nahiya of al-Ramla (liwa' of Gaza) with a population of ninety-four. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat, barley, and olives, as well as on other types of produce, such as goats and beehives. The biblical scholar Edward Robinson mentioned passing by the village in 1841, shortly after leaving al-Latrun, a village on the Jerusalem−Jaffa highway. In 1875 the village was said to have a population of approximately 400. The British surveyors who authored the Survey of Western Palestine in the late nineteenth century described Sar'a as a village on a low, bare hill that consisted of white eocene chalk. To the south lay the maqam of al-Nabi Samat, sometimes identified with the biblical Samson (who according to tradition lived here).

Sar'a was divided into three quarters. The mud and stone houses in each quarter were clustered together, divided by narrow, winding alleys. In the southern quarter, construction extended up the slope to the hilltop, while in the northern section construction extended along the northeastern foot of the hill. There were a few shops in the middle of each of the three quarters. The village population was Muslim. Their primary occupation was agriculture, which was based on rainfall and irrigation from springs in the valley floors. Their main crops were grain, olives, and fruit, including figs, apricots, and grapes. Olive groves covered 115 dunms and were concentrated in the eastern part of the land, while fruit trees were planted in the northern fields. In 1944/45 a total of 2,979 dunums was allocated to cereals; 194 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. Forests and natural herbs grew on the western and eastern slopes. Sar'a was an archaeological site that contained caves, tombs, rock-hewn cisterns, and a press. Southeast of the site, also, was Khirbat al-Tahuna (147130), where the ruins of a building constructed of ashlars (squared stone masonry) and the foundations of other buildings betray its antiquity.

In mid-July 1948, a number of villages were occupied in the approaches to Jerusalem during Operation Dani (see Abu al-Fadl, al-Ramla District). The History of the War of Independence states that the 'important role' in the operation was assigned to the Har'el Brigade which was active in the eastern sector of Dani. Sar'a, which was defended by Egyptian forces, was occupied on 13−14 July, during the invasion of the Lydda−al-Ramla plain to the west. It was taken by the Har'el's Fourth Battalion in preparation for the attack on nearby 'Artuf, which was defended by 'irregular forces' (perhaps Palestinian militia units) under the command of the Egyptian army.

The settlement of Tarum (148132) was built on the northeastern edge of the site, on village land, in 1950. Tzor'a (147129) was established about 2 km southwest of the site in 1949 , following the destruction of the village. It stands on land belonging to Dayr Aban.

Stone rubble and iron girders are strewn among the trees on the site. A flat stone, surrounded by debris and inscribed with Arabic verses from the Qur'an, bears the date A.H. 1355 (1936). On the western edge of the site stands a shrine containing the tombs of two local religious teachers. A valley to the northeast is covered with fig, almond, and cypress trees.