Umm Tuba

Umm Tuba neighborhood in East Jerusalem

Umm Tuba (Arabic: أم طوبا)[1] is an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem part of Sur Baher; it is northeast of Har Homa and Bethlehem, and southeast of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel.[2] It has a population of 4,000. After the 1967 Six-Day War, Umm Tuba was incorporated into the municipal district of Jerusalem.


The name of the Arab village, "Umm Tuba," is derived from the Byzantine era name, "Metofa," itself a derivation of the name Netofa. Netofa is mentioned in the Bible as the place from which two of King David's heroes originated (2Samuel 23:28-29).[3][4]


Biblical history

Based on archaeological finds, Umm Tuba was the site of the biblical city of Netophah.[5]

Netofa was a prosperous Judean farming village in the period of the First Temple.[3] An archaeological dig uncovered at least three royal seal impressions dating from the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah (eighth century BCE). At least two "LMLK" (belonging to the King) impressions and two personal seal impressions were discovered on handles of large jars of the type used to store wine and olive oil. Artifacts dating to the Hasmonean period was also found.[3]

Impressive remains of a Byzantine-era monastery have been found, which has been taken as proof that Umm Tuba was the site of “Metofa”, a place mentioned in the writings of Church elders in the Byzantine period.[3][4]

Bell-shaped cisterns dug into rock have been discovered. Several tombs carved into rock, one with stone entrance has also been found, to together with Byzantine ceramics.[6]

Ottoman period

In 1596, Umm Tuba appeared in Ottoman tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Quds of the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 36 Muslim households and paid taxes on wheat, barley, olives, vines or fruit trees, and goats or beehives.[7]

French explorer Victor Guérin visited the place in 1863, and described caves and other possible remains from a Christian period.[8] In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described the village as "an ancient site with bell-mouthed cisterns and ruins of modern buildings. To the east is a Mukam of Neby Toda."[9]

British mandate period

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Umm Tuba was counted with Sur Baher, which had a population of 993, all Muslims,[10] increasing in the 1931 census to 1529, still all Muslim, in 308 inhabited houses.[11]

In 1945 the population of Umm Tuba, together with Sur Baher, was 2,450, all Arabs, who owned 8,915 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey.[12] 911 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 3,927 used for cereals,[13] while 56 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[14]


In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and after the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Umm Tuba came under Jordanian rule.

Many refugees came to Umm Tuba after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.[15]


After the Six-Day War in 1967, Umm Tuba has been under Israeli occupation.


In 2005, a minefield on the outskirts of Sur Baher was cleared of hundreds of Jordanian mines by Israel to ready the site for the construction of a new high school, which serves both Sur Baher and Umm Tuba.[16] The Wingate Charitable Trust has established a joint Jewish-Arab project in which fifth and sixth graders from Umm Tuba and Kiryat HaYovel study science together. At each meeting the children learn about a scientific concept, while becoming acquainted with each other's language and culture.[17] Through the Abraham Project at the Bible Lands Museum in Givat Ram, fourth graders from Umm Tuba meet with their Jewish peers to learn about their common ancestor, Abraham/Ibrahim.[18] In 2012, Umm Tuba Elementary School took part in an environmental water conservation project financed by the Jerusalem Foundation.[19]


In 2008, Prof. Tamar Rapoport and Afnan Masarwah of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem presented their research on changing perspectives of motherhood, children and family relationships among women in Umm Tuba.[20]

Notable residents


  1. Meaning possibly: "The ruin with the good tree or water", according to Palmer, 1881, p. 312
  2. Jerusalem Neighborhoods
  3. 1 2 3 4 Royal seal impressions from the First Temple period discovered south of Jerusalem, 23 Feb 2009
  4. 1 2 Greetings from Ahimelekh and Yehokhil, from Netofa in Judah (23/2/2009), Israel Antiques Authority
  5. Israel Antiquities Authority
  6. Dauphin, 1998, p. 911
  7. Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 117
  8. Guérin, 1869, p. 83-85
  9. Conder and Kitchener, 1883, p. 128
  10. Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Jerusalem, p. 14
  11. Mills, 1932, p 44
  12. Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 58
  13. Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 104
  14. Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 154
  15. Jerualem Neighborhoods
  16. Minefield cleared for new Arab school, Jerusalem Post
  17. The Universal Language of Science
  18. 'Abraham' Project Brings Jewish, Muslim Kids Together, CBS
  19. Rainwater Harvesting
  20. NCJW Research Institute for Innovation in Education
  21. Hamas' hair apparent, Haaretz


Coordinates: 31°44′N 35°14′E / 31.733°N 35.233°E / 31.733; 35.233

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