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Al-Qastal

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Title: Al-Qastal  
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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

al-Qastal

al-Qastal hill
al-Qastal
al-Qastal
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.

History

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

References

Bibliography

  • 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 Family.net
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