Suba, Jerusalem

Suba, Jerusalem

Infobox Former Arab villages in Palestine

caption=Ruins of the village of Suba overlooking kibbutz Tzova. The village square, which was based on Belmont Castle's courtyard, with surviving medieval structures adapted and rebuilt as domestic buildings and a mosque.
altSp=Soba, Sobetha, Zova, Tzova
date=12–13 July 1948
curlocl=Tzova, Yedida school

Suba ( _ar. صوبا) was an Arab village west of Jerusalem that was depopulated and destroyed in 1948. The site of the village lies on the summit of a conical hill called Tel Tzuba ( _he. תל צובה), or Jabal Suba, rising 769 metres above sea level, and it was built on the ruins of a Crusader castle.


Post-Crusader period

Settlement at the site continued, and was mentioned as "Suba" about 1225 by Arab geographers. [Guy le Strange, "Palestine under the Moslems", Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund, 1980, p538.] In 1596, there were 60 Muslim and 7 Christian families living there. The village economy relied on wheat, barley, olives and grapes. In the mid-nineteenth century, the village was controlled by the Abu Ghosh family. The Crusader walls and the fortifications they built in the village were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha in 1832.W. Khalidi, "All that Remains", Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992, pp 317-319.] In 1931, the population consisted of 434 Muslims, rising to 620 in 1945. [1931 census of Palestine; Village statistics of 1945.]

Modern era

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the village saw fierce fighting, due to its key location near the Jerusalem highway. In late 1947 and early 1948, irregular forces of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood stationed in Suba took part in the fighting against Jewish forces, including attacks on Jewish traffic on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road. The village was attacked several times by the Haganah, and finally conquered by the Palmach during the night of July 12-13 as part of Operation Danny. Most of the inhabitants had fled during the fighting, and those who remained were expelled. [B. Morris, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited", Cambridge University Press 2004, p436.] In October 1948, the "Ameilim" group of Palmach veterans established a kibbutz called Misgav Palmach on village lands 1km to the south. Later it was renamed Tzova.

Today Tel Tzuba is a national park surrounded by the lands of the kibbutz. The ruins of the village are visible along with remains of Belmont Castle.

The history of the village of Suba is the subject of two books, one by Ibrahim ‘Awadallah published in Amman, Jordan in 1996, and another by Muhammad Sa’id Muslih Rumman in the West Bank, published in 2000. [Rochelle Davis: " [ Peasant Narratives Memorial Book Sources for Jerusalem Village History] ", January 2004, Issue 20 Jerusalem Quarterly]

Archaeological findings

Belmont castle was excavated by archaeologists in 1986-9.R.P. Harper and D. Pringle (2000), "Belmont Castle, The excavation of a Crusader Stronghold in the Kingdom of Jerusalem", Oxford University Press, ISBN 0197270093] Middle Bronze Age cairn-tombs have been excavated in the neighborhood of the ruined Arab village, though the site itself has not yielded artifacts from before the late Iron Age. The place can perhaps be identified with Σωρης mentioned in the Greek version of Josh. 15:59.R.P. Harper and D. Pringle, Belmont Castle: A historical notice and preliminary report of excavations in 1986, "Levant", Vol XX, 1988, pp 101-118. Same authors, Belmont Castle 1987 : Second preliminary report of excavations, "Levant", Vol XXI, 1989, pp 47-62.] R.P. Harper and D. Pringle (2000), "Belmont Castle, The excavation of a Crusader Stronghold in the Kingdom of Jerusalem", Oxford University Press, ISSN 0197270093] There has also been a tentative identification with the Tzova in 1 Samuel 14:47 and 2 Samuel 23:36. In the later Roman period, the site was mentioned in rabbinical sources as Seboim. Until the mid-19th century, Christian pilgrims mistakenly identified the site with Modi'in, the origin of the Maccabees.

Exacavtions on a plastered cave on the grounds of Kibbutz Tsuba identified as the Cave of John the Baptist began in March 2000. [ [ TFBA - Directory of Projects: Suba Excavations ] ]

Belmont Castle

Sometime before 1169, the Crusaders built a castle there called Belmont, run by the Hospitallers. Today, parts of the northern and western Crusader wall remain, as well as ruins of a tower and other structures. These include large underground cisterns, some pre-dating the Crusader period.

Belmont Castle was taken by Saladin in 1187. According to the chronicles it was destroyed by him in 1191 but no trace of the destruction was located during the archaeological investigation.


ee also

*List of villages depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war

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