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Title: Halhul  
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Subject: Sa'ir, Hebron Governorate, Highway 35 (Israel), Kharas, Tarqumiyah
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 • Arabic حلحول
Skyline of Halhul, 2010
Skyline of Halhul, 2010
Official logo of Halhul
Municipal Seal of Halhul
Halhul is located in the Palestinian territories
Location of Halhul within Palestine
Palestine grid 160/109
Governorate Hebron
 • Type City
 • Head of Municipality Wajdi Melhem
 • Jurisdiction 37,335 dunams (37.3 km2 or 14.4 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 • Jurisdiction 22,128
Name meaning from Hulhul, a personal name[1]

Halhul Arabic: حلحول‎, transliteration: Ḥalḥūl, is a Palestinian city located in the southern West Bank, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) north of Hebron in the Hebron Governorate. The town, bordered by Sa'ir and Ash-Shuyukh to the east, Beit Ummar and Al-Arroub refugee camp to the north, and Kharas and Nuba westwards,[2] is located 916 m above sea level, and is the highest inhabited place in Palestine.[2] According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the city had a population of 22,108 mostly Muslim inhabitants in 2007.[3]

According to Jewish, Christian and Muslim medieval traditions, the graves of the biblical prophets Gad and Nathan are located in Halhul. Another Muslim tradition places Jonah's grave in the town. The burial sites, formerly designated in the list of Holy Places under Israeli rule, are now under the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli settlement Karmei Tzur lies on the outskirts of Halhul.[4] Halhul is surrounded by ancient burial caves.



The Arabic name conserves the biblical toponym for the site, (Hebrew:חַלְחוּל; Greek: Αἰλουά/Άλοόλ; Latin Alula,)[5] which is believed to reflect a Canaanite word meaning "to tremble (from the cold)".[2] According to the Bible, Halhul was a city in the tribal territory of Judah, located in the hill country near Beth-zur.[6] Biblical scholar Edward Robinson identified the modern town with the "Halhul" mentioned in the Book of Joshua.[7] John Kitto noted that the modern name is identical with the Hebrew given in the Bible, hence "the name has remained unchanged for more than 3,300 years."[8]

The archaeological digs at Burj as-Sur have uncovered the remnants of an ancient fortress city of the mid Bronze Age, presumably associated with the Hyksos. The city was demolished during an Egyptian raid in the 17th century B.C. and was left in ruins for over 300 years. At the beginning of the Iron Age in the 11th century BC it was resettled by Israelites.

The Bible mentions a tradition that Rehoboam refortified the city. Around 1000 BC the town was abandoned and then slowly resettled until around 650 BC it emerged as a bustling city. Halhul was destroyed, together with Jerusalem and the The Temple, by Nebuchadnezzar II during his invasion of the Kingdom of Judah in 587 BCE. The city is mentioned again in chronicles of battles between the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic kingdom. It was fortified by Judah the Maccabee after his victory in the Battle of Beth Zur nearby. Following the removal of the Edomite threat by John Hyrcanus the town decayed. It was fortified again only 150 years later, during the Bar Kokhba revolt.[9]

A considerable amount of pottery has been unearthed bearing inscriptions in ancient Hebrew, most of them reading "To the king" and mentioning names of locations nearby. Handles with Jewish names inscribed in Greek have been found from the Hellenistic period.[9]

Roman and Islamic house foundations have been dug deeply into older layers of habitation.[9] Building remains with mosaic pavement with writing in Greek has been found on the site (called 'Aqd al-Qin) of a former church. Byzantine ceramics have also been found.[10]

Middle Ages

Nabi Yunis Mosque, 2010
Ruins of medieval tower at Khirbet Burj as-Sur, biblical Beth-zur, 1920s

Chronicler Ali of Herat documented in 1173 CE, that while Halhul was a part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem of the Crusaders, it was a village in which the tomb of Yunis ibn Matta (Jonah son of Amittai) was located.[11] Under the Ayyubids in 1226, a mosque with a minaret was constructed in the town.[12] That same year, Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi visited Halhul, reporting that it lay between Hebron and Jerusalem and contained the tomb of Jonah.[13]

Ottoman era

Halhul, like the rest of Palestine, was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and in the census of 1596, the village appeared in the tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Halil of the Liwa of Quds. It had an all Muslim population of 92 households and paid taxes on wheat, barley, vineyards and fruit trees, occasional revenues, goats and/or beehives.[14]

John Wilson described it in 1847 as a place of Jewish pilgrimage.[15] Edward Robinson visited Halhul in 1852, describing its surroundings as "thrifty", with numerous fields, vineyards, cattle, and goats. He reported that it was the "head of its district" and that the old mosque was in poor condition and had a tall minaret from which many other villages could be seen.[16]

The French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village in 1863, and found it to have about 700 inhabitants. He mentions graves dating from the Jewish period carved in the rocks, a spring, Ain Ayoub (Job's spring) on the southern side of the hill which furnished the locals with water; a mosque Djama'a Nebi Yunis (mosque of the prophet Jonah) built of ancient stone, foreign access to which was forbidden.[17]

In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Halhul as a large stone village on a hilltop, with two springs and a well.[18] The mosque appeared to be a "modern" building.[19]

11 Mosques, Nabi Yunis Mosque, Maqam Sahabi Abdullah bin Masood Mosque, Omary Mosque, Al Therwa Mosque, Al Rebaat Mosque, Dherr Ektat Mosque, Salah Al Dean AL Ayyubi Mosque, Al Hwawer Mosque, Al Huda Mosque, Al Faroouk Mosque and Al Nuor Mosque, now dot the city and its environs.[2]

British Mandate era

Villagers waiting for an open-air film show, 1940

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Halhul had a population of 1,927, all Muslim.[20] This had increased at the time of 1931 census, when Halhul, together with the surrounding Kh. Haska, Kh. en Nuqta, Kh. Beit Khiran, Kh. Baqqar and Kh. ez Zarqa had a population of 2,523 people in 487 houses. Except for one Christian woman, the population was still all Muslim.[21]

In July 1939, during the Arab Revolt, the village was the site of an atrocity committed by the British Black Watch Regiment. In an attempt to force the villagers to give up weapons they were suspected of hiding, all the men in the village were imprisoned in a wire cage in the sun with little water.[22] According to the British official Keith-Roach, after permission had been obtained, the officers
… instructed that they be kept there [in an open cage] and he gave them half a pint of water per diem. I saw the original order. The weather was very hot for it was summer. According to Indian Army Medical standards, four pints of water a day is the minimum that a man can live upon exposed to hot weather. After 48 hours treatment most of the men were very ill and eleven old and enfeebled ones died. I was instructed that no civil inquest should be held. Finally, the High Commissioner, MacMichael, decided compensation should be paid, and my Assistant and I assessed the damage at the highest rate allowed by the law, and paid out over three thousand pounds to the bereft families.[22]
Some witnesses mentioned a second cage, either for women or a 'good' cage with adequate water for men who cooperated.[22] A man who was driven by thirst to falsely claim to have hidden a gun down a well was killed when he failed to retrieve it.[22]

In 1945 the population of Halhul was 3,380 Arabs, who owned 37,334 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey.[23] Of this, 5,529 dunams were for plantations and irrigable land, 13,656 for cereals,[24] while 165 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[25]

Modern era

In 1949, in the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and after the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Halhul came under Jordanian rule, being annexed into the Jordanian West Bank.

In June 1967 during The Six Day War, Halhul was captured by Israel together with the rest of the West Bank. The health of the city residents and local villagers is serviced by many hospitals and clinics.[2] Half of the population is engaged in agriculture -tomatoes and squash being major forms of produce- on 10,000 of the estimated 19,000 dunams of fertile land surrounding the town. Some 8,000 dunums remain uncultivated because of Israeli practices of confiscating land and building settlements, or from water shortages and lack of developmental capital. Almost 2,000 dunams of land are reserved for olive cultivation. Livestock breeding and bee-keeping also form a significant element in the local economy.[2] Halhul has a twin city arrangement with the French town of Hennebont in Britanny.[26]

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

In March 1979, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) enforced a curfew in Halhul lasting sixteen days. Two youths, one a young girl, were shot and killed by Jewish settlers while protesting during the curfew.[27]

Halhul is in Area A of the Palestinian Authority, under wholly Palestinian jurisdiction. During the Second Intifada, Israel confiscated some 1,500 dunams of land from the Halhul municipality.[2]

30 September 2000 21-year-old Halhul resident, Muhammad Yunes Mahmoud 'Ayash a-Z'amreh, was injured by Israeli forces while in Beit Ummar and died of his wounds four days later on 3 October 2000.[28] 22 October 2000 25-year-old Halhul resident Na'el 'Ali Zama'arah was shot dead by Israeli security forces during a clash that took place after a funeral service.[28]

On 12 February 2002, Israeli combat helicopters shelled the house of Lieutenant Ahmed 'Abdul 'Aziz Zama'ra in Halhul. The IDF operation also destroyed a police station, several houses, and a machine shop suspected of manufacturing weapons for Palestinian militants. A 22 year old Palestinian from Gaza, Tareq al-Hindawi, was shot dead during the operation.[28][29][30]

11 February 2002 a Palestinian Security Guards member was killed, and two other Palestinians wounded, during an IDF operation that penetrated into Halhul to arrest Islamic Jihad leader Jneid Murad, together with Khaled Zabarah, suspected of involvement in smuggling and shooting incidents.[31]

On 14 May 2002, a special Israeli unit entered Halhul and besieged the Palestinian General Intelligence Service offices, shooting dead two security officers on their wanted list, Lieutenant Colonel Khaled Abu al-Khiran and Lieutenant Ahmed 'Abdul 'Aziz Zama'ra, as they attempted to escape.[30] An IDF spokesman said the two were wanted for attacks on Israelis in the Hebron area, and had been shot for refusing to halt. According to Palestinian sources, both had been targeted by previous Israeli attempts to kill them, one involving a missile attack on their office. The IDF also arrested Jamal Hasan Abu Ra'sbeh, a member of Force 17, and Yasser Arafat's personal guard.[32]

In August 2003 Israeli police uncovered a large workhouse for fabricating forged drivers license and Israeli ID cards.[33] According to a Tel Aviv University report, from June 2005 a four-man Jewish terrorist cell (who allegedly killed over 10 Palestinians) led by a former Jewish Defense League senior member, had totally burnt down the mayor of Halhul's house. No one was injured in that incident.[34]

On 24 March 2007 Israeli authorities demolished a house built without an Israeli permit. The case was fought in an appeal, reaching the Israeli Supreme Court, which confirmed the verdict. Demonstrations ensued.[35] On 22 June 2007 Halhul resident Shadi Rajeh 'Abdallah al-Mtur was shot dead while walking to a grocery store contiguous to an Israeli checkpoint, after failing to obey an order to stop. He did not have an ID card.[28] On 6 October 2011, two men from Halhul were arrested on charges of having murdered Asher and Yonatan Palmer as a result of a stone-throwing incident near the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba on 23 September 2011.[36] On December 2011 the UNDP decided to assist in establishing a mental health center in Halhul.[37] On 20 November 2012, a Halhul resident, Hamdi Muhammad Jawad Musa al-Fallah, was shot by IDF soldiers after aiming a laser pen at them during a clash between the soldiers and local Palestinians near the Halhul-Hebron bridge on Route 35.[38]


It is built atop Mount Nabi Yunis, the highest peak in the West Bank at 1,030 meters above sea level. The city has a land area of 37,335 dunams.[39]


In 1922, Halhul had a population of 1,927, rising to 2,523 in a 1931 British Mandate census.[20][21] According to Sami Hadawi's 1945 land and population survey, Halhul had a recorded population of 3,380 Arabs.[23] While a part of Jordan, in 1961, there were 5,387 residents. Under the Israelis, in censuses taken in 1982 and 1987, Halhul had a population of 6,040 and 9,800, respectively.[40]

According to the first census by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in 1997, of the total 15,663 residents, 1,686 (10.8%) were Palestinian refugees.[41] The gender makeup was 51.4% male and 48.6% female. About 54.7% of the inhabitants were below the age of 20, 41.2% were between the ages of 20 and 64, and 0.4% were over the age of 64.[42]

The basic population of Halhul is formed from four local families, Al Sa'deh, Karjah, Al Zma'ra and Al Doudah, in addition to Palestinians who came to the town as refugees.[2]


In the latest municipal elections in Halhul in 2004, held by Palestinian National Authority, 13 council members were elected to replace the very long-serving council headed by Mohammed Milhim. The newly elected council members elected engineer Raed al-Atrash who, managed to restructure the municipality and introduce new faces to the serving staff. After Atrash's resignation, the council elected deputy Ziad Abu Yousef as the new mayor. The council has two women in the female seats.[43]

Notable People


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 393
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h 'Halhul', ARIJ, 2000.
  3. ^ 2007 PCBS Census Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.118.
  4. ^ Pekka Pitkänen, Joshua, InterVarsity Press, 2010 p. 296.
  5. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 284 -p.285
  6. ^
  7. ^ Robinson, 1841, vol. 1, p. 319.
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c Lexicon of Eretz Israel – Halhul (Hebrew)
  10. ^ Dauphin, 1998, p. 937
  11. ^ Ali of Herat quoted in le Strange, 1890, p.447.
  12. ^ Mujir ad-Din quoted in le Strange, 1890, p.448.
  13. ^ Al-Hamawi quoted in le Strange, 1890, p.447.
  14. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 123
  15. ^ John Wilson, Lands of the Bible, William Whyte, Edinburgh, 1847 vol.1, p.384.
  16. ^ Robinson, 1856, p. 281
  17. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 284 - 287
  18. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, p. 305
  19. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, p. 329
  20. ^ a b Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Hebron, p. 10
  21. ^ a b Mills, 1932, p. 32
  22. ^ a b c d Hughes, M. (2009) The Banality of Brutality: British Armed Forces and the Repression of the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936–39, English Historical Review Vol. CXXIV No. 507, 314–354.
  23. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 50
  24. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 93
  25. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 143
  26. ^ 'Jumelage avec Halhul. Un nouveau bureau,' Le Télégramme, 18 March 2014.
  27. ^ Report of the Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the population of the occupied territories
  28. ^ a b c d 'Palestinian killed by Israeli security forces, Not known if involved in fighting in the West Bank,' B'tselem
  29. ^ Winslow, 2007, p.105.
  30. ^ a b "Assassinations of Palestinians:Report on Extra-Judicial killings Committed by the Israeli Occupation Forces, May 01, 2002 – September 28, 2002" Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 2002.
  31. ^ Felix Frisch, Ali Waked,'Scores hit in IDF Attack on Gaza,' (Hebrew) Ynet, 12 February 2002.
  32. ^ Amos Harel, IDF kills 2 Palestinians in Halhul, arrests 17 in W. Bank Haaretz, 15 May 2002.
  33. ^ Nana News – Police uncover forged documents factory in Halhul (Hebrew)
  34. ^ Daniel Raizner, Legal aspects of fighting terror, Tel Aviv University, June 2005.
  35. ^ One house demolished, two facing demolition (POICA website – a monitoring organization against Israeli colonization).
  36. ^ 'On the Agenda,' B'tselem 2012.
  37. ^ UNDP decision on mental health institution establishment in Palestine
  38. ^ 'Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank, after operation Cast Lead,' B'tselem
  39. ^ Welcome To Halhul: Town Statistics and Facts Sami Hadawi (Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center) via
  40. ^ Welcome to Halhul Palestine Remembered.
  41. ^ Palestinian Population by Locality and Refugee Status Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).
  42. ^ Palestinian Population by Locality, Sex and Age Groups in Years Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).
  43. ^ 291/mayor.htm Curriculum vitae of the Mayor] Halhul Municipality


External links

  • Welcome To The City of Halhul
  • Survey of Western Palestine, Map 21: IAA, Wikimedia commons
  • Halhul Town (Fact Sheet)
  • Halhul Town Profile
  • Halhul Town Areal Photo
  • Nebbi Yunas photo (black and white) by Nissim Krispil
  • The priorities and needs for development in Halhul town based on the community and local authorities’ assessment
  • images of Halhul town in the 1920's
  • Fi Filastin: Madinat Halhul. A video showing the ancient remnants and beautiful nature surrounding Halhul, and complaining against the remains of past Israeli presence. (Arabic)
  • Driving through Halhul video on YouTube
  • Halhul panoramic video including a bit on recent history. From a house in Halhul you can see The Dead Sea, Hebron, Kiryat Arba, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv Jaffa and Gaza.
  • Israeli rubbish sold at Halhul flea market. About the financial situation in the Middle East as seen in Halhul (YouTube, Israel TV, Arabic with Hebrew narration and subtitles)
  • April 2009 activities of Taayush for tilling land near Karmei Tzur.
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