Bani Zeid

Bani Zeid
Bani Zeid
Other transcription(s)
 – Arabic بني زيد
 – Also spelled Bani Zeid al-Gharbiyya (official)
Bani Zayd
Bani Zaid
West Bani Zeid (unofficial)
View of the Deir Ghassaneh area
Bani Zeid is located in the Palestinian territories
Bani Zeid
Location of Bani Zeid within the Palestinian territories
Coordinates: 32°02′28.94″N 35°06′5.86″E / 32.0413722°N 35.1016278°E / 32.0413722; 35.1016278Coordinates: 32°02′28.94″N 35°06′5.86″E / 32.0413722°N 35.1016278°E / 32.0413722; 35.1016278
Governorate Ramallah & al-Bireh
 – Type Municipality
 – Head of Municipality Fathiya Barghouti Rheime
Population (2007)[1]
 – Jurisdiction 5,515
Name meaning "[the] Zaid Tribe"

Bani Zeid (Arabic: بني زيد‎) is a Palestinian town in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate, located 22 kilometers (14 mi) northwest of Ramallah in the north-central West Bank and about 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) south-west of Salfit. A town of 5,515 inhabitants,[1] Bani Zeid was created as a merger between the villages of Deir Ghassaneh and Beit Rima.[2] The town owes its name to a Bedouin tribe originally from the Hejaz that were granted ownership of the area during the 13th-14th centuries for serving in the Ayyubid army during the Crusades. During Ottoman rule, Bani Zeid became an administrative subdivision consisting of twenty villages with Deir Ghassaneh being its capital.



Bani Zeid is located in the central highlands of the West Bank, off the southwestern cliffs of the mountainous spine that run from the Hebron Hills to Jenin and has an average elevation of 510 meters (1,670 ft).[2] It is located 22 kilometers (14 mi) northwest of Ramallah and al-Bireh from its southern municipal border (Beit Rima) and 26 kilometers (16 mi) northwest from its northern municipal border (Deir Ghassaneh). Nearby localities include Beitillu to the south, Kobar to the southeast, 'Abud to the southwest, al-Lubban al-Gharbi to the west, and Kafr ad-Dik to the north.

Bani Zeid had a total land area of 22,249 dunams in 1945, of which 90 dunams were classified as built-up areas (Deir Ghassaneh was larger than Beit Rima) and 8,400 dunams were planted with olive or fig groves.[3]


Deir Ghassaneh has been identified as the ancient Saredah, hometown of Jeroboam. According to some sources, it was settled by the Arab Christian Ghassanids after it was abandoned by the Israelites, however this has been dismissed by a number of researchers since the Ghassanids did not have a history of settlement in Samaria. Israeli archaeologist Moshe Sharon suggests that the name of the village is related to the Arabic word ghassaneh which means "very handsome" or suggests "youth and beauty."[4]

There is no mention of Deir Ghassaneh or Beit Rima in early Arabic sources, although it is known that former village was inhabited during the Mamluk period due to the many houses there that have preserved elements of Mamluk architecture. Specific examples include the use of the ablaq technique of alternating stones of different colors, particularly red and white, that decorate the facades and gates of some houses.[4]

Establishment of Bani Zeid in Palestine

The town receives its name from the Arab tribe of Bani Zeid, who settled in the two towns during the period of Ayyubid rule in Palestine in the 12th century. They formed a part of the Bedouin forces from the Hejaz that formed the nucleus of Saladin's army. After the Siege of Jerusalem in 1187, Saladin's forces captured the city and the Ayyubid army was garrisoned there.[2] The Bani Zeid temporarily resided in Jerusalem and a street was named after them, but has since been renamed.[5]

In order for Saladin to persuade the Hejazi Arab tribes that joined his army to remain in Palestine, he offered each tribe a cluster of villages captured from the Crusaders to settle in and govern. The Bani Zeid were granted the villages of Deir Ghassaneh and Beit Rima, as well as, the nearby towns of Kafr Ein and Qarawat Bani Zeid. However, it was not until 1293, after the Mamluks under Baibars conquered Palestine and expelled the last of the Crusaders, that the Bani Zeid tribe settled in their villages.[2]

In 1480, Bedouins from the Bani Zeid tribe based in Deir Ghassaneh attacked Jerusalem as retaliation for the governor's execution of some of its members accused of revolting against Mamluk authorities.[5] In 1492, The Arab geographer, Muhammad al-Idrisi passed through the area and wrote, "we traveled from Dar Ghasana to Beit Reema and the generous people invited us to stay".[6]

Ottoman rule

During the Ottoman era of rule in Palestine, Bani Zeid was a nahiya ("subdistrict") of the sanjak ("district") of Jerusalem and had control over 20 towns and villages as well as partial control of Salfit.[7] While these villages were registered and organized like other villages in the Sanjak of Jerusalem, they were also treated as a group. Each village was led by a ra'is ("local chief") and the entire Bani Zeid district was headed by a sheikh. In 1556, it was led by Sheikh Abu Rayyan bin Sheikh Manna and was succeeded by Sheikh Muhammad Abu Rabban in 1560. The sheikh was responsible for paying sums to the Ottoman authorities. Olive oil was the primary commodity that Bani Zeid produced which was 361 kintars. It was sold to local Ottoman officials and soap factories in Nablus. The Ottomans imposed taxes on olive oil, wheat and barley. In addition, Bani Zeid was required to pay a waqf to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.[8]

In the early 18th and 19th centuries, Bani Zeid was apparently reduced to 15 villages,[9] and was a center for the Qais tribal-political faction. The Survey of Western Palestine in the 19th century stated Deir Ghassaneh was "a village on a ridge, with springs in the valley below. It is of moderate size, built of stone and has olives beneath it."[4] In the second half of the 19th century, it was ruled by Sheikh Saleh al-Barghouti who belonged to a wealthy noble family, the Barghoutis—a sub-clan of the Bani Zeid. Sheikh Saleh enjoyed a high political and social status by being the tax collector (multazim) of the Bani Zeid Sheikdom, on behalf of the central Ottoman authorities. Deir Ghassaneh played the role of "capital" of the sheikhdom and the sheikh built his palace there. Prior to the village boundary expansion in the late 20th century, Deir Ghassaneh consisted of three quarters: Barghouti, al-Shu'aibi, and Fallaheen.[9]

Modern era

In the 1920s-30s, Sheikh Saleh was succeeded by his son Umar Salih al-Barghouti who aligned Bani Zeid with the Nashashibi clan of Jerusalem against the al-Husayni clan for political dominance in Palestine during the British Mandate era.[4] In 1936, the British Royal Air Force struck a group of 400 local militiamen based outside of Deir Ghassaneh, killing 130 of them.[10] The British Mandate Antiquities Authority noted in a January 1947 report that Deir Ghassaneh was "built on a medieval site" and on a hill 500 meters (1,600 ft) west of the village was two-domed shrine dedicated to a Sheikh Khawas.[4]

Deir Ghassaneh and Beit Rima merged in February 1966 to form the Municipality of Bani Zeid under Jordanian rule—which ended in 1967.[11] The municipality building is located in Beit Rima. In 1978, the Bani Zeid, was one of several Palestinian localities to append its municipal seal to the Memorandum from the masses and the institutions of the West Bank to the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization showing unity with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The memorandum was a rejection of any solution, regardless of its origin, not containing a clear recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to establishing an independent Palestinian national state.[12]

In 2001, during the Second Intifada, the Israel Defense Forces performed a military incursion into Beit Rima to capture the alleged assassins of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi. During the course of the incursion, nine people were killed, eleven detained (two being directly involved in Zeevi's assassination) and three houses were demolished.[13]


According to Ottoman tax records, Beit Rima had roughly 200 residents in 1596.[6] There were 54 Muslim household head and 14 Christian household heads. In Deir Ghassaneh, there were 76 Muslim household heads.[14]

Deir Ghassaneh and Beit Rima had a combined population of 1,180 in 1922, rising to 1,499 in 1931.[15] In a land and population survey by Sami Hadawi in 1945, both villages had a total population of 1,810. Beit Rima had a slightly larger population, but Deir Ghassaneh was greater in land size.[3] In a 1961 census by Jordanian authorities, Deir Ghassaneh's population reached 1,461, but it declined drastically after more than half of the residents fled during the Six-Day War in June 1967. In 1982, there were 892 inhabitants in the town. Beit Rima had 2,165 inhabitants in 1961 and unlike Deir Ghassaneh, the population continued to grow, reaching 3,451 in 1987.[15]

In the first census taken by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in 1997, Bani Zeid had a population of 4,351 inhabitants. The gender make-up was 51.8% male and 49.2% female. More than half of the population is under the age of 20 (51.1%), while 27.7% are between the ages of 20 to 39, 15% between the ages of 40 and 64, and the remainder of the population is 65 or older (6%). Palestinian refugees made up 6.8% of the residents in 1997.[16]

According to the PCBS census of 2007, Bani Zeid had a population of 5,515, of which 49% were males and 51% females. There were 1,176 housing units and the average size of a household was five family members.[1] The town's primary families are: Barghouti, al-Shu'abi, al-Rabi, Ramahi, Rimawi, Mesha'al and Rheime.[17] Bani Zeid has an unemployment rate of 30%.[18]


Bani Zeid is governed by a municipal council of 13 members, including the chairman (mayor) and vice-chairman under the name Municipality of West Bani Zaid.[19] It holds election every four years, the most recent being in 2005. Hamas won five of the municipal seats including the role of mayor which was won by a female candidate Fathiya Barghouti Rheime—who, along with Janet Mikhail became the first woman to hold the post of municipality head. Fatah won five seats, the Palestinian People's Party (PPP) won one, and a socialist party won the remaining seat.[20]

During an Israeli raid in Bani Zeid in 2007, two members of the municipal council and representing Hamas were arrested by Israeli authorities with dozens of other Palestinian mayors, parliament members and ministers belonging to Hamas. The arrest of the two put the number of West Bani Zeid Municipality Hamas members to three, (member 'Ala Rimawi was elected to his post while serving a prison sentence).[21]

In 2000, Bani Zeid was incorporated into Area A giving the Palestinian National Authority full control—security and civilian affairs—over the town.[22]


Bani Zeid has had five mayors since the establishment of the municipality in 1966.[11]

  • Adib Mohammed Rimawi (1966–1972)
  • Fa'eq Ali Rimawi (1972–1976)
  • Yunus Yahya Rimawi (1976–1996)
  • Abdel-Karim Jasser Rimawi (1996–2004)
  • Fathiya Barghouti Rheime (2005–present day)


  1. ^ a b c 2007 PCBS Census. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.112.
  2. ^ a b c d Bani Zeid: Excerpt Palestinian Association for Culture Exchange
  3. ^ a b Hadawi, Sami. (1970). Ramallah District Statistics p.64
  4. ^ a b c d e Sharon, 1997, pp.35-41.
  5. ^ a b Singer, 1994, p.179.
  6. ^ a b The History of Beit Rima Yahoo GeoCities.
  7. ^ The 20 villages were 'Atara, Ajjul, 'Arura, Beit Rima, Deir Dibwan, Deir Ghassaneh, Ein Siniya, Yabrud, Jifna, Jiljiliya, Kafr Ein, Kafr Aqab, Qarawa, Kafr 'Ana, Mazari, al-Mazra'a ash-Sharqiya, Nabi Salih, Deir as-Sudan, Kobar, Surda. See Singer, 1994, p. 77.
  8. ^ Singer, 1994, pp.76-78
  9. ^ a b Muhawi, Farhat. Protection Plan for Cultural and Natural Heritage of Deir Ghassaneh RehabiMed.
  10. ^ Probert, 2006, p.82.
  11. ^ a b Previous Municipal Members Municipality of West Bani Zaid.
  12. ^ UN Doc A/33/165 of 5 July 1978
  13. ^ Dellios, Hugh.Israel raids village to pursue assassins Chicago Tribune, pp.1-2. 2001-10-05.
  14. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, pp.120-121.
  15. ^ a b Bayt Rima Statistics and Dayr Ghassana Statistics British Mandate censuses via PalestineRemembered.
  16. ^ Palestinian Population by Locality, Sex and Age Groups in Years
    Palestinian Population by Locality and Refugee Status Results of 1997 Census by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) for the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate.
  17. ^ Ramahi, Tareq. Prominent families
  18. ^ Deir Ghassaneh Community Center Riwaq.
  19. ^ Current Municipal Council of West Bani Zaid Municipality of West Bani Zaid.
  20. ^ Moore, Molly.Democracy's New Face: Radical and Female Palestinian Mayor Embodies Both Tradition and Change in Middle East Washington Post Foreign Service. Washington Post Company. 2005-01-29.
  21. ^ Israeli forces arrest Palestinian minister of education, former minister of public works, mayors and PLC members Ma'an News Agency. 2007-05-24.
  22. ^ The Israeli Army Ravages Beit Rima Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem. 2001-11-05.


External links

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