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Ras Abu ‘Ammar

Contributed by Turathuna Bethlehem University on 08.01.2007:

Ras Abu Ammar Before 1948:

The village stood on an elongated hill that stretched from southeast to northwest, surrounded on three by the deep Wadi al-sarar that wound its way westward. It was also dominated by mountains on all sides, and was less than 1Km south of the Jerusalem-Jaffa railway line. A secondary road linked Ras Abu’Ammar to a highway that ran south of it and led to Bethlehem. In the late nineteenth century, Ras Abu’Ammar was described as a village built of a stone on a small ridge, situated above an “open and rather flat” valley in which the villagers planted olive trees. The village had a rectangular plan and most of its houses were built of stone. A main street, running in a northwest-southeast direction, divided the site into two sections. During the British Mandate, new construction extended along roads connecting into the villages al-Qabu and ‘Aqqur in the east and north, and along the highway in the south. The village had an elementary school and a few small shops in its center. The villagers, who were Muslim, maintained more than one shrine for local sages, including one for their drinking water and irrigation.

The village lands were utilized both for agriculture and pasture. Agriculture was based on rainfed grain, vegetables, and fruits trees, including olive trees (which covered 100 dunums) and grape vines. Irrigation of the latter was made possible by spring water that flowed from the mountain top and accumulated in ponds. In 1944/45 a total of 2,791 dunums was allocated to creals; 925 dunums were irrigated or or used for orchards. The nearby Khirbat Kafr Sum (158126) was inhabited during the Crusader Period and also during the sixteenth century.

Occupation and Depopulation:

The village probably fell to units of the Israeli army’s Har’el Bridge in the course of Operation ha-Har. Israeli historian Benny Morris indicates that the village fell on 21 October 1948, as a result of a direct military assault.

Israeli Settlements on Village Lands

Israeli established the settlements of Tzur Hadassa on village lands in 1960, south of the village site.

The Village Today:

The stone rubble of the village houses is strewn across the site. Wild vegetation grows among the debris, in addition to almond, olive, and carob trees. Cactuses grow on the southeastern and southwestern sides of the site; a two-room stone building that used to be the schoolhouse still stands to the southeast.

Source: Khalidi, Walid. All That Remains. Washington, D.C: Institute of Palestinian Studies, 1992.

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