Agricultural Villages Near Bethlehem
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Battir

A lovely Palestinian village located 9 km south-west of Bethlehem with a population of around 3,000. The village of Battir was built on the ruins of the Biblical Bethar. The memory of the last stand of the Jews in the Bar Kocba Revolt is preserved in the name of one of the village ruins known as Khirbet Al-Yahud, or the “Ruin of the Jews". In the surrounding area one has breathtaking views of the beautiful valley far below, where there is a natural pool called Birket Ein Jami.’ Approximately two kilometers north-east of Battir village is a group of springs in the eastern hills called, Ein Hanyya. Alongside are the remains of a sixth century Byzantine Church which Christian tradition identifies with St. Philip's fountain. There is also a maqam or shrine to a Muslim saint or weli, known as Maqam Abu Ziad. The railway to Tel Aviv passes through this village, result of a deal brokered with the British during the mandate. The railroad track, which was unused for many years, used to serve as a track for groups of school children, hiking, collecting herbs, learning about the archaeological sites and religious sites and railway which are part of their history. Now residents are prohibited from approaching or photographing the railway. The Eggplant Festival is famous in Battir

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