Tall al-Safi Before 1948
Place at a distance of 31 km from Hebron, the village stood about 100 m above the plain, in the western foothills of the Hebron Mountains. It was linked by a secondary road to the highway between al-Majdal and the Jerusalem-Jaffa highway.
Tall al-Safi was one of many sites in Palestine with a long history of human habitation, dating from the third millennium B.C. until 1948. Evidence such as the excavation of Philistine pottery in 1899 indicate that Tall as-Safi was probably the site where the Philistine city of Gath was located. In the late nineteenth century, Tall al-Safi was a village built of adobe bricks, with a well in the valley to the north. The houses were built of stones held together by mud and mortar, and they stood along the roads coming in and out of the village in a star-shaped pattern.
The population of Tall al-Safi was Muslim, and their main source of livelihood was rainfed agriculture and animal husbandry. The villagers had a mosque, a marketplace, and water was drawn from a well. Grain, vegetables, and fruit such as grapes, figs, and almonds were planted on the village land.
Occupation, Depopulation, and Israeli Settlements
A central target of Operation An-Far which was launched during the period between the two truces, Tall as-Safi was taken on 9-10 July 1948. On 7 July, Giv'ati commander Shim'on Avidan issued orders to the First Battalion to conquer the village and 'to expel the refugees encamped in the area, in order to prevent enemy infiltration from the east to this important position.' Historian Benny Morris quotes an Israeli army report which states that the capture of Tall al-Safi completely undermined the morale of the surrounding villages.
No Israeli settlements have been established on village land.
The Village Today
Remnants of a well and the crumbling stone walls of a pool can be seen on the site now overgrown with wild vegetation. The surrounding land is planted by Israeli farmers with citrus trees, sunflowers, and grain.
Source: al-Khalidi, Walid (ed.). All that remains: the Palestinian villages occupied and depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington DC: 1992.
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