Dayr Aban (also spelled Deir Aban; Arabic: دير آبان) was a Palestinian Arab village in the Jerusalem Subdistrict, located on the lower slope of a high ridge that formed the western slope of a mountain, to the east of Beit Shemesh. It was formerly bordered by olive trees to the north, east, and west. The valley, Wadi en-Najil, ran north and south on the west-side of the village. It was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War on October 19, 1948, during Operation Ha-Har.[6][7] It was located 21 km west of Jerusalem. Today there are over 5000 people originally from Dayr Aban living in Jordan.

Dayr Aban
دير آبان
Entrance to a house in Dayr Aban
Entrance to a house in Dayr Aban
Etymology: The Monastery of Aban[1]
Historical map series for the area of Dayr Aban (1870s).jpg 1870s map
Historical map series for the area of Dayr Aban (1940s).jpg 1940s map
Historical map series for the area of Dayr Aban (modern).jpg modern map
Historical map series for the area of Dayr Aban (1940s with modern overlay).jpg 1940s with modern overlay map
A series of historical maps of the area around Dayr Aban (click the buttons)
Dayr Aban is located in Mandatory Palestine
Dayr Aban
Dayr Aban
Location within Mandatory Palestine
Coordinates: 31°44′33″N 35°00′34″E / 31.74250°N 35.00944°E / 31.74250; 35.00944Coordinates: 31°44′33″N 35°00′34″E / 31.74250°N 35.00944°E / 31.74250; 35.00944
Palestine grid151/127
Geopolitical entityMandatory Palestine
Date of depopulationOctober 19–20, 1948[4]
 • Total22,734 dunams (22.734 km2 or 8.778 sq mi)
 • Total2,100[2][3]
Cause(s) of depopulationMilitary assault by Yishuv forces
Current LocalitiesTzora,[5] Mahseya,[5] Beit Shemesh,[5] and Yish'i[5]


In pre-Roman and Roman times the settlement was referred to as "Abenezer", and may have been the location of the biblical site Eben-Ezer.(1 Samuel 4:1–11).[8][9][10]

Ottoman eraEdit

In 1596, Dayr Aban appeared in Ottoman tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Quds of the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 23 Muslim households and 23 Christian households;[11] that is, an estimated 127 persons.[12] They paid a fixed tax rate of 33,3% on agricultural products, such as wheat, barley, olives, and goats or beehives; a total of 9,700 Akçe.[11]

Victor Guérin described it in 1863 as being a large village, and its adjacent valley "strewn with sesame."[13] An Ottoman village list from about 1870 found that the village had a population of 443, in a total of 135 houses, though the population count included men, only.[14][15]

In 1883, the PEF's Survey of Western Palestine described Dayr Aban as "a large village on the lower slope of a high ridge, with a well to the north, and olives on the east, west, and north. This place no doubt represents the fourth century site of Ebenezer (I Sam. IV. I) which is mentioned in the Onomasticon (s.v. Ebenezer) as near Beth Shemesh. The village is 2 miles east of 'Ain Shems."[10]

In 1896 the population of Der Aban was estimated to be about 921 persons.[16]

British Mandate eraEdit

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Dayr Aban had a population of 1,214 inhabitants, all Muslims,[17] increasing in the 1931 census to 1,534 inhabitants, in 321 houses.[18]

In the 1945 statistics, the village had a total population of 2,100 Arabs; 10 Christians and 2,090 Muslims,[2] with a total of 22,734 dunums of land.[3] Of this, Arabs used 1,580 dunams for irrigable land or plantations, 14,925 for cereals,[19] while 54 dunams were built-up (urban) Arab land.[20]

Dayr Aban had a mosque and a pipeline transporting water from 'Ayn Marjalayn, 5 km to the east.[5] The village contains three khirbats: Khirbat Jinna'ir, Khirbat Haraza, and Khirbat al-Suyyag.[5]

1948, aftermathEdit

On 4 August 1948, two weeks into the Second truce of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestinian nationalist Amin al Husseini noted that ‘for two weeks now . . . the Jews have continued with their attacks on the Arab villages and outposts in all areas. Stormy battles are continuing in the villages of Sataf, Deiraban, Beit Jimal, Ras Abu ‘Amr, ‘Aqqur, and ‘Artuf . . .’[6]

The village became depopulated on 19–20 October 1948, after a military assault during Operation Ha-Har.[4][7][21] Through the second half of 1948, the IDF, under Ben-Gurion’s tutelage, continued to destroy Arab villages, including Dayr Aban on 22 October 1948.[22]

After the war, the ruin of Dayr Abban remained under Israeli control under the terms of the 1949 Armistice Agreement[23] between Israel and Jordan, until such time that the agreement was dissolved in 1967.[24][25]

The moshav of Mahseya was later established near the site of the old village,[26] on the land of Dayr Aban, as was Tzora, Beit Shemesh and Yish'i.[5]

Houses being blown up by the Harel Brigade October 1948


The prefix "Dayr" which appears in many village names is of Aramaic and Syriac-Aramaic origin, and has the connotation of "habitation," or "dwelling place," usually given to places where there was once a Christian population, or settlement of monks. In most cases, a monastery was formerly built there, and, throughout time, the settlement expanded.[27] Dayr Aban would, therefore, literally mean, "the Monastery of Aban."[1]



  1. ^ a b Palmer, 1881, p. 293
  2. ^ a b Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 24
  3. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 56
  4. ^ a b Morris, 2004, p. xx, village #335. Also gives cause of depopulation.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Khalidi, 1992, p. 283
  6. ^ a b Morris, 2004, p. 447, note #211, p. 461
  7. ^ a b Morris, 2004, p. 462
  8. ^ Fetellus, 1896, p. 43
  9. ^ Conder, 1876, p. 149
  10. ^ a b Conder and Kitchener, 1883, p. 24
  11. ^ a b Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 119
  12. ^ Khalidi, 1992, p. 282
  13. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 22-23, 323
  14. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 151
  15. ^ Hartmann, 1883, p. 145: 150 houses, more than Socin
  16. ^ Schick, 1896, p. 123
  17. ^ Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Ramleh, p. 21
  18. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 19
  19. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 102
  20. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 152
  21. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 466, note #13, p. 493
  22. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 355, note #85 Harel Brigade HQ\Intelligence, ‘Daily Report for 22 October’, 23 Oct. 1948, IDFA 4775\49\3, for the destruction of Beit Nattif and Deiraban, p. 400
  23. ^ The 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan
  24. ^ Enlarged map showing Dayr Abban (Deiraban) in relation to the "Green-Line"
  25. ^ Larger map showing "1949 Cease-fire line" (Green-line) between Israel and Jordan (Hebrew)
  26. ^ Yalqut Teiman, Yosef Tobi and Shalom Seri (editors), Tel-Aviv 2000, p. 158, s.v. מחסיה (Hebrew) ISBN 965-7121-03-5
  27. ^ Al-Shabeshti, Diyārāt (Monasteries).


External linksEdit