Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah

Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah (variants: Beit Iskâria, Khirbet Zakariah, Beit Skâria) is a small Palestinian village southwest of Bethlehem in the West Bank, perched on a hill that rises about 995 metres (3,264 ft) above sea level. Administratively, it is associated with the village of Artas under the Bethlehem Governorate. It is also located in between the Israeli settlements of Alon Shevut and Rosh Tzurim, both of which were built on land confiscated from the village.

Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah
ar transcription(s)
 • Arabicخربة بيت زكريا
 • LatinKhallet Sakarya (unofficial)
Area map showing Khallet Sakariya, 2011
Area map showing Khallet Sakariya, 2011
Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah is located in State of Palestine
Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah
Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah
Location of Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah within Palestine
Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah is located in the West Bank
Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah
Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah
Location of Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah within the West Bank
Coordinates: 31°39′47″N 35°07′24″E / 31.66306°N 35.12333°E / 31.66306; 35.12333
Palestine grid160/118
StateState of Palestine
 • TypeVillage council
Elevation950 m (3,120 ft)
Name meaningKhurbet Beit Skâria; The ruin of Beit Skaria (the ancient Beth Zacharias)[2]


Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah is located 9 kilometers (5.6 mi) (horizontal distance) south of Bethlehem. It is bordered by Wadi an Nis to the east, Nahhalin to the north, Al Jab’a to the west, and Beit ‘Ummar and Surif to the south.[1]


The village may be the site of the Battle of Beth Zechariah between the Jewish Maccabeans and Selucid Greek forces during the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire, in the year 162 BCE.[3][4][5][6]

Three rock-cut burial caves, dating to the 1st century BCE have been excavated, and pottery fragments from the 1st century BCE were found.[7] Potsherds from the Roman and Byzantine era have also been found here.[8]

In the Byzantine period an important church was located here, which appears on the Madaba map. Since then a mosque, going by the name Nabi-Zakariah, has been built on the site of the church.[8] Some of the ruins of the church are preserved in the courtyard and roof of the mosque.[8] In general, some of the houses in the village are built on top of ancient ruins and caves (among which is a columbarium).[8]

During the Crusader era, Casale Zacharie, like nearby al-Khidr, probably was a Christian village, and it was granted with al-Khidr to the church of Bethlehem between c. 1155 and c. 1186.[9]

Pottery fragments from the Mamluk era have also been found.[7]

Ottoman eraEdit

In the Ottoman census of 1538–1539, Bayt Dhakariyya was located in the nahiya of Halil,[10] while in 1557, it was noted that the village revenues went to an Imperial imaret in Jerusalem.[11]

In 1852, Edward Robinson noted Beit Sakarieh “on an almost isolated promontory or Tell, jutting out northwest between two deep valleys; and connected with the high ground south by a low neck between the heads of those two valleys."[12]

An Ottoman list from about 1870 notes a Muslim wali, dedicated to a Sheikh Zakarja, located under a large tree. Several cisterns were also noted, and that the old Roman road to Jerusalem passed by.[13]

A Byzantine capital, noted in 1873[14]

The PEF's Survey of Western Palestine visited in 1873 and noted: "From the main Roman road on the south a path leads to this ruin, situate on the brow, overlooking deep valleys on the east and north. Beside the path is a square foundation about 50 feet side, of roughly-dressed stones. The remains on the hill-brow are those of a large modern village, with more ancient foundations. One wall consists of stones 4 1/2 feet long, 2 feet high, roughly dressed. There is also a mosque, with a portico on the west, sunk below the surface. On the north side of this portico a pillar is placed with a capital of basket-work (see illustration), like the eighth century Byzantine capitals. The shaft is 2 feet diameter. The mosque door was shut ; perhaps it may represent the site of the church which once stood at this place. [..] Drafted stones with a rough boss were also found, and another capital, apparently Byzantine. To the west of the site are rock-cut tombs, now blocked. A tree grows over the Mukam, or mosque."[14]

French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village and described the ruins he saw around the village mosque:

A small mosque contains, they say, a tomb, which is no longer visible, buried as it is under rubble; it is believed to contain the venerated remains of Abu Zakaria. At the entrance of this sanctuary, I notice two columns which seem to come from a Byzantine church; the capitals, in fact, represent a sort of basket of rushes intertwined like the meshes of a net.[15]

Gush Etzion settlement blocEdit

The four kibbutzes of the Gush Etzion Bloc (Kfar Etzion, Ein Zurim, Massuot Yitzhak, Revadim) overlaid on a 1943 Survey of Palestine map; they are shown as being within the area of the village boundaries of Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah

Between 1943 and 1948, four Jewish outpost settlements were built on the village land; the area became known as Gush Etzion (the "Etzion Bloc").


On January 14, 1948, Arab forces led by Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni attempted to capture the strategic hill of Beit Zakariah, and thus to split Gush Etzion into two in preparation for its total conquest. However, Jewish forces defeated them in the Battle of 3 Shevat. The defeat had strategic implications for all of Palestine - as a result, Husseini cancelled his plans to attack Jewish communities, and focused on attacks on the roads.[16][17]

Jordanian eraEdit

In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and after the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah came under Jordanian rule.


Since the Six-Day War in 1967, Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah has been under Israeli occupation.[18]

After the Oslo Accords in 1995, 100% of Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah land was classified as Area C, under full Israeli control.[19]

According to ARIJ, Israel has confiscated land from Khirbet Beit Zakariyyah in order to construct six Israeli settlements:


  1. ^ a b Beit Sakariya Village Profile, ARIJ, p. 4
  2. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 302
  3. ^ Schürer, Millar, and Vermes, 2014, p. 166
  4. ^ Beth-zacharias, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Claude R. Conder, Tent Work in Palestine (vol. 1), London 1879, p. 279
  6. ^ Ben-Yosef (n.d.), p. 180
  7. ^ a b Peleg and Feller, 2004, Rosh Zurim
  8. ^ a b c d Ben-Yosef (n.d.), p. 179
  9. ^ Pringle, 1993, p. 204
  10. ^ Toledano, 1984, p. 289, has Bayt Dhakariyya at location 35°07′00″E 31°40′05″N.
  11. ^ Singer, 1994, pp. 26, note #6; 165
  12. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1856, pp. 283-284
  13. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 148
  14. ^ a b Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 108
  15. ^ Guérin (1869), p. 316. Original French: "Une petite mosquée renferme, dit-on, un tombeau, qui n'est plus visible, enseveli qu'il est sous des décombres; il passe pour contenir les restes vénérés d'Abou Zakaria. A l'entrée de ce sanctuaire, je remarque deux colonnes qui semblent provenir d'une église byzantine; les chapiteaux, en effet, représentent des espèces de corbeilles de joncs entrelacés comme les mailles d'un filet."
  16. ^ "הקרב המוצלח ביותר במלחמת העצמאות".
  17. ^ Yohanan Ben-Yaakov, The Mountain Division, the Lamed-Heh Story, Israel Defence Ministry press, 2008, page 44
  18. ^ Aharon Dolev, Rosh Tzurim: the petition was denied, Maariv, 7 November 1980
  19. ^ Beit Sakariya Village Profile, ARIJ, p. 16
  20. ^ a b c d e f Beit Sakariya Village Profile, ARIJ, p. 17


External linksEdit