Hittin, 1934
Hittin is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic حطّين
Name meaning from personal name[1]
Also spelled Hattin, Hutin
Subdistrict Tiberias
Palestine grid 192/245
Population 1,190[2][3] (1945)
Area 22,764 dunams
22.8 km²
Date of depopulation 16–17 July 1948[4]
Cause(s) of depopulation Fear of being caught up in the fighting
Secondary cause Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Arbel, Kefar Zetim

Hittin (Arabic: حطّين‎, transliterated Ḥiṭṭīn or Ḥaṭṭīn) was a Palestinian village located 8 kilometers (5 mi) west of Tiberias. As the site of the Battle of Hattin in 1187, in which Saladin conquered most of Palestine from the Crusaders, it has become an Arab nationalist symbol. The shrine of Nabi Shu'ayb, venerated by the Druze as the tomb of Jethro, is on the village land. The village was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from the 16th century until the end of World War I, when Palestine became part of the British Mandate for Palestine. In the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the village was depopulated.


  • History 1
    • Antiquity 1.1
    • Islamic era 1.2
    • Ottoman era 1.3
    • British Mandate era 1.4
    • 1948 War 1.5
    • State of Israel 1.6
  • Demographics 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • External links 6



Horns of Hattin

Hittin was located on the northern slopes of the double hill known as the "Horns of Hattin." It was strategically and commercially significant due to its location overlooking the Plain of Hittin, which opens onto the coastal lowlands of Lake Tiberias to the east, and to the west, is linked by mountains passes to the plains of lower Galilee. These plains, with their east-west passages, served as routes for commercial caravans and military invasions throughout the ages.[5]

Archaeological excavation at the village has yielded pottery fragments from the Chalcolithic Period and the Early Bronze Age.[6] The village may have been built over the Canaanite town of Siddim or Ziddim (Joshua 19:35), which in the third century BC acquired the Old Hebrew name Kfar Hittin ("village of grain"). It was known as Kfar Hittaya in the Roman period. In the 4th century, it was a Jewish rabbinical town.[5]

Islamic era

Hittin was located near the site of the [8] Many prominent figures from the Islamic period in Palestine were born or buried in Hittin according to early Arab geographers such as Yaqut al-Hamawi and al-Ansari al-Dimashqi (who himself was called the Shaykh of Hittin). 'Ali al-Dawadari, the writer, Quranic exegetist, and calligrapher, died in the village in 1302.[5]

Ali of Herat wrote (c. 1173) that both Jethro and his wife were buried in Hittin. Yaqut al-Hamawi wrote that another shrine near Arsuf that claimed to be the tomb of Shu´aib was misidentified.[9] Sunni Muslims and Druze would make ziyarats and pilgrimages to Hittin to the tomb of Jethro, and the Druze celebration attracted members of their sect from other parts of the region of Syria.[10][11]

Ottoman era

In 1596 Hittin was a part of the Ottoman nahiya ("subdistrict") of Tiberias under the liwa' ("district") of Safed. The villagers paid taxes on wheat, barley, olives, goats and beehives.[12][13] In 1646 the village was visited by Evliya Çelebi, who described it as follows: "It is a village in the territory of Safad, consisting of 200 Muslim houses. No Druzes live here. It is like a flourishing little town (bulayda) abounding with vineyards, orchards and gardens. Water and air are refreshing. A large fair is held there once a week, when ten thousand men would gather from the neighbourhood to sell and buy. It is situated in a spacious valley, bordered on both sides by low rocks. There is a mosque, a public bath and a caravanserei in it."[14] Çelebi also reported that there was a shrine called the Teyké Mughraby, inhabited by over one hundred dervishes, which held the grave of Sheikh 'Imād ed-dīn, of the family of the prophet Shu'eib, who was reputed to have lived for two hundred years.[14]

Richard Pococke, who visited in 1727, writes that it is "famous for some pleasant gardens of lemon and orange trees; and here the Turks have a mosque, to which they pay great veneration, having, as they say, a great sheik buried there, whom they call Sede Ishab, who, according to tradition (as a very learned Jew assured me) is Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses."[15] Around this time and until the late 18th century, Hittin was a small village in the autonomous sheikhdom of Zahir al-Umar. In 1767, Zahir's son Sa'id sought to control Hittin and nearby Tur'an, but was defeated by his father. Nonetheless, Zahir granted Sa'id both villages when he pardoned him.[16] A map from Napoleon's invasion of 1799 by Pierre Jacotin showed the place, named as Hattin.[17]

Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss traveler to Palestine around 1817, noted Hittin as a village,[18] while in 1838 Edward Robinson described it as a small village of stone houses.[19] William McClure Thomson, who visited in the 1850s, found "gigantic" hedges of cactus surrounding Hittin. He reported that visiting the local shrine was considered a cure for insanity.[20]

In 1863 H. B. Tristram, wrote about the "bright faces and bright colours" he saw there, and the "peculiar" costumes: "long tight gowns, or cassocks, of scarlet silk, with diagonal yellow stripes, and generally a bright red and blue or yellow jacket over them; while their cheeks were encircled by dollars and piastres, after Nazareth fashion, and some of the more wealthy wore necklaces of gold coins, with a doubloon for pendant in front."[21] In 1875 Victor Guérin visited [22]

In 1881, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Hittin as a large well-built village of stone, surrounded by fruit and olive trees. It had an estimated 400-700 villagers, all Muslim, who cultivated the surrounding plain.[23] An elementary school was established in the village around 1897.[5]

In the early 20th-century, some of the village land in the eastern part of the Arbel Valley was sold to Jewish land purchase societies. In 1910, the Jewish village of Mitzpa was established there, followed by Kfar Hittim in 1924.[5]

British Mandate era

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the Mandatory Palestine authorities, the population of Hattin was 889; 880 Muslims and 9 Jews,[24] increasing in the 1931 census to 931, all Muslims, in a total of 190 houses.[25]

Hittin in the British mandate ere, by Fadil Saba, Nazareth

In 1932 Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam and the local Palestinian leadership affiliated with the Istiqlal party inaugurated a celebration on the anniversary of Saladin's victory in Hittin. Hittin Day, held on August 27 of that year in the courtyard of a school in Haifa, was intended to be an anti-imperialist rally. It was attended by thousands of people from Palestine, Lebanon, Damascus, and Transjordan. The speeches delivered at the event centered around the independence of the Arab world and the importance of unity between Arab Muslims and Christians.[26]

In 1945 Hittin is recorded as having a total land area of 22,764 dunams (22.764 km2), of which 22,086 dunams were Arab-owned and 147 dunams were Jewish-owned. The remaining 531 dunams were public property.[3] Cultivable land amounted to 12,426 dunams, while uncultivated land amounted to 10,268 dunams. Of the cultivated land, 1,967 dunams consisted of plantations and irrigable land, and 10,462 dunams were devoted to cereals.[27] The built-up area of the village was 70 dunams and it was populated entirely by Arabs.[28]

1948 War

In 1948 the village mukhtar was Ahmad ´Azzam Abu Radi. According to the villagers, they did not feel threatened by their Jewish neighbours at Kfar Hittim, who had visited in November 1947 after the UN vote in favor of the United Nations Partition Plan, and assured the villagers they did not want war.[29][30] There were 50 men in the village who had rifles, with 25-50 rounds of ammunition each.[29]

The villagers grew anxious listening to Radio Amman and Radio Damascus, but remained uninvolved until June 9, when Jewish fighters attacked the neighbouring village of Lubya and were repulsed. Shortly after an Israeli armoured unit, accompanied by infantry, advanced towards the village from the direction of Mitzpa. The attack was rebuffed, but all the local ammunition was used up.[31] On the night of July 16–17, almost all the inhabitants of the village evacuated. Many left for Sallama, between Deir Hanna and Maghar, leaving behind a few elderly people and 30-35 militiamen.[31] On July 17, Hittin was occupied by the Golani Brigade as part of Operation Dekel.[32] When the villagers tried to return, they were chased off. On one occasion, some men and pack animals were killed.[33]

The villagers remained at Salamah for almost a month, but as their food-supply dwindled and their hope of returning faded, they left together for Lebanon.[31] Some resettled in Nazareth. The Israeli government considered allowing 560 internally displaced Palestinians from Hittin and Alut to return to their villages.[34]

State of Israel

Mosque of Hittin, 2007

In 1949 and 1950, the Jewish villages of Arbel and Kfar Zeitim were founded on the lands of Hittin. [35] In the 1950s, the Druze community in Israel was given official custodianship over the Jethro shrine and 100 dunams of land around it. A request to build housing there for Druze soldiers was rejected. The Druze annual pilgrimage continued to be held and was officially recognized as a religious holiday by Israel in 1954.[10]

According to [37] On Land Day that year, Zochrot held a tour to the village with former residents.[38]


In 1596 Hittin had a population of 605.[12] In the 1922 census of Palestine Hittin had a population of 889,[24] which rose to 931 in the 1931 census. There were 190 houses that year.[25][39] In 1945 the population was estimated at 1,190 Arabs.[3] The village had a number of large and influential families; Rabah, 'Azzam, Shaiyabtah, Sa'adah, Sha'ban, and Dahabra.[29]

See also


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 126
  2. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 12
  3. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 72
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xvii, village #94. Also gives causes of depopulation.
  5. ^ a b c d e Khalidi, 1992, p. 521.
  6. ^ Getzov, 2007, Hittin
  7. ^ Lane-Poole, 1898, pp. 197ff
  8. ^ Conder, 1897, p. 149
  9. ^ le Strange, 1890, p.450, p.451
  10. ^ a b Firro, 1999, p. 236
  11. ^ a b Nicolle, 1993, p. 91
  12. ^ a b Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 190. Quoted in Khalidi, p. 521.
  13. ^ Note that Rhode, 1979, p. 6 writes that the register that Hütteroth and Abdulfattah studied was not from 1595/6, but from 1548/9
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ Pococke, 1745, vol 2, p. 67
  16. ^ Joudah, 1987, pp. 51-52.
  17. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 166.
  18. ^ Burckhardt, 1822, pp. 319, 336
  19. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, p. 250
  20. ^ Thomson, 1859, vol 2, pp. 117-118
  21. ^ Tristram, 1865, p. 451
  22. ^ Guérin, 1880, pp. 190-191
  23. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p . 360. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 521
  24. ^ a b Barron, 1923, Table xi, Sub-district of Tiberias, p. 39
  25. ^ a b Mills, 1932, p. 82
  26. ^ Matthews, 2006, p. 153
  27. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 122
  28. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 172
  29. ^ a b c Nazzal, 1978, p. 84
  30. ^ A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mark Tessler, Indiana University Press
  31. ^ a b c Nazzal, 1978, p. 85
  32. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 423
  33. ^ Yehuda, Golani Brigade\Intelligence, Daily Summary 25-26.8, IDFA 1096\49\\64. Cited in Morris, 2004, p. 445
  34. ^ Masalha, 2005, p. 107
  35. ^ Khalidi, 1992, p. 523
  36. ^ Pappé, 2006, p. 218
  37. ^
  38. ^ Tour of Hittin, Land Day 2007, Zochrot
  39. ^ Bitan, 1982, p. 101.


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