Contributed by Palestine Family.net on 06.07.2006:
Bayt ‘Itab بيت عطاب
Distance from Jerusalem (km): 17.5
Land ownership in 1944/45 (dunums):
Bayt ‘Itab Before 1948
The village stood on a high mountain, overlooking some lower mountains peaks below. Its lands extended southwest as far as Wadi al-Maghara. Several springs around the village provided drinking and irrigation water. A secondary road linked Bayt ‘Itab to the Bayt Jibrin-Bethlehem road that ran about 3 km to the south. Bayt ‘Itab is identified with Enadab, which appears in the list of Palestinian towns that was compiled by the fourth century A.D. In the 1850s, Bayt ‘Itab was the home village of the powerful Lahham family, which controlled the twenty- four villages of the district of al-‘Arqub. Armed conflict broke out between the Lahham family and its rival, the Abu Ghawsh family, in 1855, and Bayt ‘Itab was the scene of fierce battles. Afterwards, as the regular Ottoman administration penetrated the area, the influence of both families was reduced and Bayt ‘Itab became an ordinary village.
In the late nineteenth century, Bayt ‘Itab was a village built on stone, perched on a rocky knoll that rose 60 to 100 feet above the surrounding hilly ridge. Its population in 1875 was approximately 700. Most of its houses were built of stone. Agriculture was the main source of livelihood. The village lands were planted in grain, grapes, olive trees, and other fruit trees. In addition, the residents owned extensive areas on the coastal plain that also were planted in grain. During the mandate, some village lands were expropriated to make large, govermen-owned woodland. The villagers also engaged in livestock breeding. Crops were rianfed and irrigated from springs.
Occupation and depopulation
Bayt ‘Itab was one of a string of villages in the Jerusalem corridor that was captured following the second truce of the war. Israeli historian Benni Morris writes that it was occupied on 21 october1948, during operation ha-Har. The operation was complementary to operation Yo’av, a simultaneous offensive on the southern front that aimed at thrusting southwards into the Negef.
Israeli settlements on Village Lands
Israel established the settlement of Nes Harim north of the village site on village land in 1950.
The village Today
The site is covered with large amounts of rubble from the demolished village houses. There are two cemeteries east and west of the village. Some of the graves are open, and human bones are visible. Almond, carob and olive trees grow on the village site and on the lower approaches. Cactuses grow on the southern edge of the site. Part of the surrounding agricultural lands is cultivated by Israeli farmers.