Over 2,800 Palestinians from the Hebron-areavillageof Bayt Jibrin were expelled during the 1948 Middle Eastwar. Today the area is an Israeli national park which erases the memory of its original inhabitants.
Bayt Jibrin was a Palestinian Arab village located 21 kilometers northwest ofHebron. The village had a total land area of 13,900 acres, of which 69 acres were built-up, while the rest remained farmland.
The town dated back to the bronze era and during the Roman period it became a major administrative center under the name of Eleutheropolis. In the early 7th century, Bayt Jibrin was conquered by Muslim forces led by ‘Amr ibn al-‘As. The town declined following the 11th century crusader conquest, but prospered after being recaptured by the Mamluks.
Under the British Mandate of Palestine, Bayt Jibrin again served as a district center for surrounding villages. In the 1947 UN Partition Plan, it was designated as part of the Arab state, but was occupied by Zionist forces during the 1948Middle Eastwar.
The over 2,800 Bayt Jibrin inhabitants were deported during the war and today, many of these refugees and their descendants live in the ‘Azza and Fawwar refugee camps in the southern West Bank.
The kibbutz of Beit Guvrin was established on Bayt Jibrin’s lands in 1949.
The residents of Bayt Jibrin left behind a life and an amazingly beautiful place that is today an Israeli national park. The park acts to erase the memory of its original Palestinian inhabitants.
The photos below were taken in the national park in spring 2012.
* This article was published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)