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Title: Al-Qastal  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Operation Nachshon, Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, Army of the Holy War, Kastel, 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine
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al-Qastal hill
Arabic القسطل
Name Meaning "castle"
Sub-district Jerusalem
Coordinates 31°47′44″N 35°8′39″E / 31.79556°N 35.14417°E / 31.79556; 35.14417Coordinates: 31°47′44″N 35°8′39″E / 31.79556°N 35.14417°E / 31.79556; 35.14417

Population (1945)
Area 1,446 dunams

1.4 km²

Date of depopulation April 3, 1948[1]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces

Al-Qastal (Arabic: القسطل‎ was a Palestinian village located eight kilometers west of Jerusalem named for a Crusader castle located on the hilltop. Used as a military base by the Arab Liberation Army, the village was captured by the Palmach in the lead up to the Arab-Israeli War and depopulated of its residents.


Called Belveer or Beauverium, the castle was built by the Crusaders around 1168 CE. It is listed amongst the castles destroyed by al-Adil I in 1191–2 CE.[2] In 1883, al Qastal was described as "a small stone village in a conspicuous position on a rocky hill-top" with springs to the east.[3]

The 1931 census of Palestine counted 14 houses with a population of 55 Muslims and 4 Christians.[4] In 1944/45, the village, with a population of 90 Muslims, had a total of 42 dunums of land allocated to cereals. 169 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards, including 50 dunams of olive trees.[5][6]

In 1948, al-Qastal was a key position on the Jaffa-Jerusalem road that was used by Arab forces to besiege the Jews of Jerusalem.[7] It was occupied by the Arab Liberation Army led by Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, the Arab Jerusalem Hills sector commander.[8]

The village was assaulted by the Palmach's Harel Brigade during Operation Nachshon, causing almost all the inhabitants to flee.[5][9] Palmach troops occupied the village on April 3, but its commander was refused permission to blow up the houses.[9]

Forces under Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni recaptured al-Qastal from the Palmach on April 8, 1948. During this operation Al-Husayni himself was killed.[9] Al-Husayni's death is said to have been a factor in the loss of morale among his forces.[10] Many left their positions to attend al-Husayni's funeral at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, April 9. Palmach troops retook the village on the night of April 8-9th; they blew up most of the houses and made the hill a command post.[11][9]

Mevaseret Zion is located on the former lands of Al-Qastal.[5]

See also



  • ISBN 0-521-00967-7
  • Morris, Benny (2008), 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War, Yale University Press ISBN 0-300-15112-8

External links

  • Welcome To al-Qastal
  • Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center
  • Al-Qastal, Palestine
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