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Place Descriptions

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Dayr al-Hawa دير الهوا
submitted by Turathuna Bethlehem University

PGR: 153128
Distance from Jerusalem (km): 18.5

Land ownership in 1944/1945:
Arab: 4,660
Total: 5,907

Dayr al-Hawa before 1948:

The village stood on a high mountain top, overlooking wide expanses of land to the west, north, and south. A secondary road lined it to another secondary road that led to Bethlehem and that ran several km southeast of the village, and dirt paths lined it to nearby villages. In the late nineteenth century Dayr al-Hawa stood on a knoll rising from a high ridge and overlooked a deep valley to the north. It consisted of a few tall houses at this time, and was listed as a hamlet in the Palestinian Index Gazetteer. The village had a rectangular layout, with new construction extending in a northwest-southeast direction, in conformity with the topography of the land. Its houses were built of mud and stone and were crowded together, seperated only by narrow alleys.

The villagers, all of whom were Muslims, worshipped at a mosque in the western part of the village and maintained a shrine for Shaykh Sulayman, a local teacher. Two wells southeast and west of the village, provided potable water. Most of its agricultural lands were mountainous, except for the valley floors where grain was planted. Fruit trees, which yielded apples, olives, figs, and almonds,were planted on the slopes. All of these crops were rainfed. In 1944/45 a total of 1,565 dunums was allocated to cereals; 58 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. Dayr al- Hawa was built on an archaeological site. Some of the building stones and colomns from the site had been used to construct the village houses.

Occupation and Depopulation:
Dayr al-Hawa was one of the villages to be captured at the beginning of Operation ha-Har. It was occupied the night of 18-19 October 1948 (or perhahs on the following night ) by the Fourth Battalion of the Har'el Brigade. No mention is made of the fate of the Palestinian civilians who were in this village, but Israeli historian Benny Morris states that the commander of the operation, Yigal Allon, Probably made it clear for his officers that no civilian communities should remain in the area captured during the operation.

The Village Today :
The stone rubble of houses is mixed with ruined walls of terraces. Parts of the site have been levelled and cleared, and the debris has been gathered to form a large pile at one end of the site. In the north ,south, and west, terraces are covered with groves of carob and olive trees. Cactuses grow on the southern edge of the site, and ruined walls lie on the western side of the village. Large slabs of reinforced concrete can still be seen near the watchtower that was erected on the cleared area. The "Two Hundred Years" park, commemorating the U.S.bicentennial, was established by the Jewush National Fund on the lands of Dayr al-Hawa and a few neighboring villages. Fir trees have been recentely planted near the park. The Hubert Humphrey Parkway passes through the park on the lands of Dayr al-Hawa.

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