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Sataf (Arabic: صطاف, Hebrew: סטף) was a Palestinian village in the Jerusalem Subdistrict depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. It was located 10 km west of Jerusalem, with Sorek Valley (Arabic: Wadi as-Sarar) bordering to the east.

Remains of Sataf village
Sataf is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic صطاف
Name meaning from a personal name[1]
Subdistrict Jerusalem
Coordinates 31°46′9″N 35°7′38″E / 31.76917°N 35.12722°E / 31.76917; 35.12722Coordinates: 31°46′9″N 35°7′38″E / 31.76917°N 35.12722°E / 31.76917; 35.12722
Palestine grid 162/130
Population 540[2][3] (1945)
Area 3,775[3] dunams
Date of depopulation July 13–14, 1948[4]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces

Two springs, Ein Sataf and Ein Bikura flow from the site into the riverbed below.

A monastery located across the valley from Sataf, i.e. south of Wadi as-Sarar, known by local Arabs as Ein el-Habis (the "Spring of the Hermitage"), is officially called Monastery of Saint John in the Wilderness.

Today it is a tourist site showcasing ancient agricultural techniques used in the Jerusalem Mountains.



Chalcolithic periodEdit

Remains of a 4,000 BCE Chalcolithic village were discovered at the site. The related traces of agricultural activities number among the oldest in the region.[5]

Byzantine periodEdit

Most ancient remains date to the Byzantine period.[5]

Mamluk periodEdit

The first written mention of the site is from the Mamluk era.[5]

Ottoman periodEdit

Sataf was noted in the Ottoman tax records of 1525-1526 and 1538-1539, as being located in the Sanjak of Al-Quds.[6] In 1838 it was described as a Muslim village, located in the Beni Hasan district, west of Jerusalem.[7]

In 1863, Victor Guérin found a village of one hundred and eighty people. He further noted that their houses were standing on the slopes of a mountain, and that the mountainside was covered by successive terraces.[8] An Ottoman village list from about 1870 counted 38 houses and a population of 115, whereby only men were counted.[9][10]

In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Setaf as "a village of moderate size, of stone houses, perched on the steep side of a valley. It has a spring lower down, on the north."[11]

In 1896 the population of Sataf was estimated to be about 180 persons.[12]

British Mandate periodEdit

By the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Sataf had a population of 329; 321 Muslims and 8 Christians.[13] All the Christians were Roman Catholic.[14] The 1931 census lists 381 inhabitants; 379 Muslim and 2 Christian, in a total of 101 houses.[15]

In the 1945 statistics the population of Sataf was 540, all Muslims,[2] and the total land area was 3,775 dunams, according to an official land and population survey.[3] Of this, 928 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 465 for cereals,[16] while 22 dunams were built-up land.[17]

1948. aftermathEdit

On July 13–14, 1948 the Arab village was depopulated by the Har'el Brigade, during Operation Danny.[18]

Sataf and the surrounding area became part of the newly created State of Israel. A short time after the 1948 War, a small group of Jewish immigrants from North Africa settled for a few months in the village area. Subsequently the IDF's Unit 101 and paratroopers used it for training purposes.[5]

In the 1980s the Jewish National Fund began the restoration of ancient agricultural terraces, and the area around the springs has been turned into a tourist site. A forest around the site was also planted by the Jewish National Fund.[19]

In 1992, Sataf was described as follows: "Many half-destroyed walls still stand, and some still have arched doorways. The walls of a few houses with collapsed roofs are almost intact....The area around the village spring, which is located to the east next to the ruins of a rectangular stone house, has been turned into an Israeli tourist site. A Jewish family has settled on the west side of the village, and have fenced in some of the village area."[18]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 326
  2. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 25
  3. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 58
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xx, village #354. Also gives cause of depopulation
  5. ^ a b c d Adar, Yael. "Ancient Agriculture: Sataf - A Reconstruction". Gems in Israel. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  6. ^ Toledano, 1984, pp. 280, 298. Toledano gives its location as 31°46′20″N 35°07′25″E
  7. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, Appendix 2, p. 123
  8. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 3-4
  9. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 160 also noted it was located in the Beni Hasan District
  10. ^ Hartmann, 1883, p. 122, noted 40 houses
  11. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 22
  12. ^ Schick, 1896, p. 125
  13. ^ Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Jerusalem, p. 14
  14. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XVI, p. 45
  15. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 43
  16. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 104
  17. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 154
  18. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, p. 317
  19. ^ Sataf from the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center


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