Beit Jala: Wikis


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Beit Jala
View of Beit Jala from Gilo
BeitJala Logo.gif
Municipal Seal of Beit Jala
Arabic بيت جالا
Name meaning Carpet of Grass
Governorate Bethlehem
Government Municipality
Coordinates 31°42′53.82″N 35°11′13.60″E / 31.71495°N 35.187111°E / 31.71495; 35.187111Coordinates: 31°42′53.82″N 35°11′13.60″E / 31.71495°N 35.187111°E / 31.71495; 35.187111
Population 11,758[1] (2007)

12,911  dunams (13.0 km²)

Head of Municipality Raji George Jadallah Zeidan[2]

Beit Jala (Arabic: About this sound بيت جالا ‎ (lit. Aramaic 'grass carpet') is an Arab Christian town in the Bethlehem Governorate of the West Bank. Beit Jala is located 10 km south of Jerusalem, on the western side of the Hebron road, opposite Bethlehem, at 825 meters (2,707 ft) altitude. In 1997, Beit Jala had 12,239 inhabitants, predominantly Christian Palestinians with a Muslim minority, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.



3,500 acres (14 km²) of land are planted with olives, grapes and other crops. Cremisan Cellars, located in the Cremisan monastery, is an important local winemaker. Beit Jala is famous for its olive wood souvenirs. Other economic branches are tobacco, textiles, agriculture and pharmaceuticals[3].[citation needed]

Local infrastructure

Hospitals and health care

Beit Jala has a hospital and three societies for the disabled: the Bethelehem Arab Society,[4] Lifegate Rehabilitation[5] and House Jemima,[6] a Dutch-founded home and daycare-center for children with mental disabilities.

Schools and churches

Beit Jala is home to educational institutions run by a variety of Christian denominations, including the Arab Orthodox Benevolent Society, the oldest such society in Palestine. A Russian Orthodox school was established in 1870. The Latin Patriarchate Seminary, which supervises religious liturgical education in the Jerusalem Patriarchate, moved to Beit Jala in 1936. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the West Bank runs the Talitha Kumi School, which is closely linked to the German Lutheran community. The school runs an environmental education program and operates the only bird-ringing station in the Palestinian sector. The Beit Jala skyline is dominated by six churches and two mosques. The Church of the Virgin Mary is the oldest church and the Church of Saint Nicholas is regarded as the most important. According to tradition, St. Nicholas spent four years in the Holy Land. Both of these churches are Orthodox Christian.


Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Beit Jala during the Mandate

Following a Israel Defense Forces reprisal raid in Beit Jala in 1952, that resulted in the deaths of seven civilians, a complaint was lodged that Israel had violated the General Armistice agreement. The United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation issued a condemnation of Israel for breaching the agreement.[7][8]

During the Second Intifada, Tanzim militants used Beit Jala as a base for shooting at the illegal Jewish-only Israeli Settlement of Gilo, which is located on a hilltop directly across from it, on land allegedly confiscated from Beit Jala, Beit Safafa and Sharafat.[9][10] According to some Israeli journalists, the gunmen positioned themselves in or near Christian homes and churches in the knowledge that a slight deviation in Israeli return fire would harm Christian buildings.[11]


In the 2005 municipal election, six seats went to the United Beit Jala list (Fatah and Palestinian People's Party), five seats went to Sons of the Land (PFLP and independents), one seat went to Independent Beit Jala Group and one candidate was elected as an independent. The most popular candidate was Raji George Jadallah Zeidan of United Jala with 2,892 votes, followed by Nadir Antoun Issa Abu Amsha of Sons of the Land with 1764 votes.[12]


Arab Orthodox Club (Basketball, Football)

The Beit Jala Lions is a rugby club active in Beit Jala.[13]


  1. ^ 2007 PCBS Census Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.118.
  2. ^ West Bank Local Elections ( Round two) - Successful candidates by local authority, gender and No. of votes obtained Beit Jala p 24
  3. ^
  4. ^ Bethlehem Arab Society
  5. ^ Lifegate Rehabilitation
  6. ^ House Jemima
  7. ^ E H Hutchison “Violent Truce”A Military Observer Looks at the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1951 1955
  8. ^ see also Jordan–Israel Mixed Armistice Commission
  9. ^ "One more Obstacle to Peace": A new Israeli Neighborhood on the lands of Jerusalem city Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem, 10 March 2007
  10. ^ "Is Beit Jala burning?" Inside Israel, 4 September 2001
  11. ^ Associated Press, as reported in Yoram Ettinger, "The Islamization of Bethlehem by Arafat," Jerusalem Cloakroom #117, Ariel Center for Policy Research, December 25, 2001.
  12. ^ Municipal Election results
  13. ^ Chris Toenjes (2008-03-15). "Rugby Goes Palestinian". Ma'an News Agency. 

External links

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