Al-Bireh, Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate, West Bank, Palestine

History | Medieval period | Ottoman era | British Mandate era | Jordanian era | Post-1967 era | Demographics | Government | Health and education | Sport

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ธ Al-Bireh, al-Birah, or el-Bira is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank, 15 km north of Jerusalem. It is situated on the central ridge running through the West Bank and is 860 meters above sea level, covering an area of 22.4 square km (8.6ย sqย mi). Al-Bireh is under the administration of the Palestinian National Authority (as part of Area A).

Because of its location Al-Bireh served as an economic crossroad between the north and south, along the caravan route between Jerusalem and Nablus.


History Edward Robinson in the early 19th century thought Al-Bireh was the biblical Be'eroth, but modern scholars believe Be'eroth was located at Kh. el-Burj near Beit Iksa.

In the Hellenistic period it was also known as Berea or Beroth, and Seleucid general Bacchides camped there in 161 BCE before attacking Judas Maccabaeus's forces at Elasa.

Claude Reignier Conder and others identified it with Beirothah of the Samaritan chronicles.


Medieval period The Crusaders captured and named the town Birra. It was also called Castrum Mahomeria, Magna Mahomeria or Mahomeria Major. It was one of 21 villages given by King Godfrey as a fief to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In 1114, the gift was re-confirmed by Baldwin I of Jerusalem.

In 1156, 92 people from Mahomeria pledged their allegiance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and a further 50 names were added in the next three decades. Hence, it has been estimated that the total Frankish population at this time was 500โ€“700.

The Crusaders built a castle, church and hospice there. The latter two buildings were built by the Knights Templar in 1146 and belonged to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Ayyubids under Saladin drove away the Crusaders from Birra when they reconquered interior Palestine after the Battle of Hattin in 1187, and completely demolished the town. Yaqut al-Hamawi mentions seeing the ruins a few times during his travels in the area. Nearing the end of Ayyubid rule, in 1280, the modern town of al-Bireh was an inhabited village. The Ayyubids built a mosque in the town dedicated to Umar ibn al-Khattab adjacent to the church ruins.

Potsherds from the Crusader/Ayyubid era have been found.


Ottoman era Al-Bireh, like the rest of Palestine, was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and in the census of 1596 the village, called Bira al-Kubra, was a part of the nahiya ("subdistrict") of Al-Quds which was under the administration of the liwa ("district") of Al-Quds. It had a population of 45 households, all Muslim, and paid taxes on wheat, barley, olive trees, fruit trees, occasional revenues, beehives and/or goats; a total of 4,570 akรงe. Half of the revenue went to a waqf.

In the spring of 1697, Henry Maundrell noted at Al Bireh, which he called Beer, the remains of a Church, which he wrote was built by Empress Helena.

After the 1834 Arab revolt in Palestine, the Ottoman authorities conscripted many men from Al-Bireh as soldiers. In 1838, when Robinson visited, 60 had been taken away to be soldiers, out of a total population of 700. Robinson noted it as a Muslim village, el-Bireh, located in the area immediately north of Jerusalem.

When French explorer Victor Guรฉrin visited the village in 1863, he found it to have 800 inhabitants.

Socin, citing an official Ottoman village list compiled around 1870, noted that Al-Bireh had a population of 399 Muslims in 142 houses, and 20 "Greeks" in 5 houses, though that population count included only men. It was further noted that the name meant "The cistern". Hartmann found that Al-Bireh had 142 houses.

In 1883, the PEF's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described Bireh as a good-sized village, with "fairly well built" houses.

In 1896 the population of Bireh was estimated to be about 1,080 persons.

Until 1917, the city served as a political and administrative centre for the Ottoman Empire.


British Mandate era In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Al-Bireh had a population of 1,479; 1,407 Muslims, and 72 Christians, where the Christians were 61 Orthodox, 3 Roman Catholics and 8 "other". The population had increased in the 1931 census to 2,292; 2,044 Muslim and 248 Christians, in 541 houses.

In the 1945 statistics, the town's residents numbered 2,920; of which 280 were Christians and 2,640 Muslims, while urban Bireh had 967 dunams of land, and rural Bireh 22,045 dunams, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, 5,162 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 11,226 used for cereals, while 759 dunams were built-up (urban) land.


Jordanian era In the wake of the 1948 Arabโ€“Israeli War and the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Al-Bireh came under Jordanian rule.

In 1961, the population of Bira was 14,510.


Post-1967 era During the Six-Day War, on June 6, 1967, Israeli troops occupied the city, and Al-Bireh has been under Israeli occupation since.

Israel confiscated 346 dunams of land from Al-Bireh in order to build the Israeli settlement of Beit El (established in 1977) in addition to 780 dunams in order to build Pesagot (established in 1981).

In 1994, the civil administration of the city was turned over to the Palestinian National Authority under the Oslo Accords. Al-Bireh is the second largest centre of Palestinian administration after Gaza. Besides the governor's headquarters, it also hosts a considerable number of governmental, non-governmental, and private organizations, including the Ministries of Transportation, Supply, Information, Public Works and Higher Education, as well as the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Due to its proximity with Ramallah, the cities form a single constituency for elections to the Palestinian National Authority.

After the 1995 accords, 39.8% of village land was classified as Area A, 5% as Area B, while the remaining 55.2% was classified as Area C.


Demographics The majority of the inhabitants were Palestinian refugees who made up 55.4% of the total population. In the 2007 PCBS census, there were 38,202 people living in the city.

Al-Bireh is inhabited by 5 major clans: Qur'an, Hamayel, 'Abed, Qaraqra, At Taweel and Ar Rafidi.


Government Al-Bireh established a city council headed by a mayor in 1928 under the British Mandate. Eight other mayors took office either through elections or government appointments. In 1982, Israel instated a civil administration, but later appointed an Arab mayor. In 1996, a 12-member municipal council was established by the Palestinian National Authority.

In the Palestinian municipal elections in 2005, the Hamas-backed Reform and Change List won 9 of the 15 seats, while independent lists won the remaining 6.


Health and education In 2010, the Jerusalem Fund, National Arab American Medical Association Foundation and Physicians for Peace dedicated the Palestine Diabetes Institute in al-Bireh. Al-Quds University maintains a campus in al-Bireh.


Sport The 7,000-seat Majed Ass'ad or Al Bireh International Stadium was completed in 2010; originally constructed in 1996, it was upgraded to international standards from 2006 to 2010 at a cost of โ‚ฌ3 million. The work was funded by France, the German Development Bank, the UN Development Agency, and FIFA. Construction was halted by the Israeli Supreme Planning Council on November 1, 2009, but resumed in late December. In November 2009, the nearby settlement of Psagot petitioned the High Court of Justice to have the stadium shut down, citing concerns that rowdy soccer fans might attack Psagot.

Al Bireh Youth Foundation is the most prominent sports club in the city, mostly famous for its football teams and ancient scouts association.

Image: Bildoj

Al-Bireh has a population of over 45,980 people. Al-Bireh also forms the centre of the wider Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate which has a population of over 279,730 people. Al-Bireh is situated 15 km north of Jerusalem.

To set up a UBI Lab for Al-Bireh see: Twitter:

Twin Towns, Sister Cities Al-Bireh has links with:

๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท Gennevilliers, France ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Toluca, Mexico
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license

Antipodal to Al-Bireh is: -144.786,-31.907

Locations Near: Al-Bireh 35.2137,31.9067

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ธ Ramallah 35.206,31.903 d: 0.8  

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ธ East Jerusalem 35.233,31.783 d: 13.8  

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Jerusalem 35.218,31.775 d: 14.6  

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Modi'in-Maccabim-Re'ut 35.02,31.887 d: 18.5  

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ธ Ariel 35.183,32.1 d: 21.7  

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ธ Bethlehem 35.201,31.707 d: 22.3  

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Modiโ€˜in Makkabbim Reโ€˜ut 35,31.9 d: 20.2  

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ธ Efrat 35.15,31.65 d: 29.2  

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Beit Shemesh 34.991,31.738 d: 28.2  

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Bet Shemesh 34.983,31.733 d: 29.1  

Antipodal to: Al-Bireh -144.786,-31.907

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ซ Papeete -149.566,-17.537 d: 18346.5  

๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ธ Pago Pago -170.701,-14.279 d: 16734.4  

๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ด Nuku'alofa -175.216,-21.136 d: 16773.3  

๐Ÿ‡ผ๐Ÿ‡ธ Apia -171.76,-13.833 d: 16615.6  

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Hilo -155.089,19.725 d: 14169.8  

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Maui -156.446,20.72 d: 14032.9  

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Kahului -156.466,20.891 d: 14013.9  

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Maui County -156.617,20.868 d: 14013.1  

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Wailuku -156.505,20.894 d: 14012.7  

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Honolulu -157.85,21.3 d: 13937.4  

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