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Biddu
Population
1000
Location
11km NW of Jerusalem
Area in Dunums
5363 1
Jurisdiction
Area B & C
Brief

Biddu is a Palestinian village located 11 km northwest of occupied Jerusalem and bordered by the villages of Beit Ijza, Beit Sourik, a-Nabi Samuel, al-Jib, al-Qbeiba, and Beit Iksa. Biddu is considered an important centre in northwest Jerusalem, and this cluster of villages encircled by the Annexation Wall is known as the Biddu enclave.2 The village is surrounded by more than seven settlements, and the Annexation Wall was built on its land. The vast majority of residents live in the centre area of the village while the areas that surround it are mostly agricultural lands.

History and Background

There are two common explanations for the roots of the village's name. The first is that it was named after the three stone-made olive presses that date back to the Roman period and whose name in Arabic is "budoud.” The second theory ascribes the name to the three Bedouin brothers who established the community.3

Dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods, in the mid 20th century Biddu remained a small village with about 500 people. It was attacked by the Palmach, elite Jewish forces, on the night of 19 April 1948. The village was subjected to a short bombardment from the air after which the soldiers entered the village and demolished its houses.4 It is estimated that around 5,000 people originally from Biddu are dispersed in the diaspora.5 Up until the 1967 occupation Biddu was under Jordanian administration. The construction of the Annexation Wall on village land in 2004 prompted strong resistance by the villagers. As construction began, several protests were organised in the village. Israeli occupation forces met the unarmed protests with lethal force. On 26 February 2004, two Palestinians were killed by Israeli occupation soldiers during a protest against the Annexation Wall in Biddu and over twenty others were injured.6

Historical monuments in the village:

One can find many historical monuments in the Bedouin village that prove its historical roots. The village contains many ancient archaeological monuments dating back at least three thousand years. Moreover, in the Ottoman Empire era, it contained various governmental centres, as well as the Ottoman Mosque which still exists today. The Bedouin village consisted of a set of abandoned and desolated belongings that were located on the mountains surrounding the village. No one lived in the centre until the second Romanian era when a church was built and people started to gather and live there. Some of those houses still exist today but most were destroyed in 1948 by the Israeli Occupation.

Social & Economic Life

The Bedouin Biddu village is located on a set of mountains; most famous is Mount Hermon which includes many other areas such as a-Sahel area in the city centre. The village has many public and private facilities that provide entertainment and relaxation services.  These include the Turkish bath which contains a park, pool, and a Turkish bath. There is also the Biddu garden that provides a playground for children, and Biddu’s sports club that provides a sport club and offers other cultural activities and educational services.

Biddu has four schools and several grassroots initiatives and centres. Among them is a women’s centre that conducts workshops for local women, supports and encourages women to continue their studies, and holds dabkeh (Palestinian folklore dance) training for teenage girls. Many of the village’s residents traditionally work in agriculture on the surrounding lands.7 The village is famous for the cultivation of olives since ancient times, and even today one can find olive trees that trace back to the Roman era. The village is also famous for the making of traditional crafts such as pottery and embroidery as well as for its agriculture and breeding. The inhabitants lived on agriculture and breeding until the occupation came, and the political and economical situation became more difficult to rely on.

Israeli occupation forces began constructing the Annexation Wall on Biddu's lands in 2004, expropriating it and cutting off the village from its lands.  It now severely restricts the inhabitants’ freedom of movement.

Challenges for the Community

The Annexation and Expansion Wall

The Wall has isolated residents from their agricultural lands and made it particularly difficult for residents to tend their land and harvest their olive trees. The Israeli occupation's Civil Administration only gives them limited seasonal permits to tend to their livelihoods on the land, and Biddu farmers are often accompanied by Palestinian volunteers during the olive harvest season.

References

1 Biddu Village Profile | Arij.

2 Biddou profile (Arabic).

3 Biddo Development Society.

4 Morris, Benny (1987) The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947-1949. Cambridge University Press, p.112.

5 Ibid

6 CNN.com - Palestinians: Two killed in barrier protest.

7 Report on Al-Quds University TV.

Biddu