The Sataf has an amazing story to tell! In the past, it was a Palestinian village in the Jerusalem area depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Furthermore, two springs, Ein Sataf and Ein Bikura flow from the site into the riverbed below. Plus there is a monastery located across the valley from Sataf, known by local Arabs as Ein el-Habis (the “Spring of the Hermitage”), which is officially called the Monastery of Saint John in the Wilderness. Today it is a tourist site showcasing ancient agricultural techniques used in the Jerusalem Mountains.
A Little More About the Sataf
So remains of a 4,000 BCE Chalcolithic village were discovered at the site. Moreover, the related traces of agricultural activities number among the oldest in the region! Sataf was noted in the Ottoman tax records of 1525-1526 and 1538–1539, as being located in the Sanjak of Al-Quds. According to archaeological work, the village originated in the late 16th century, with the use of several cave−dwellings. Later, houses were erected in front of the caves.
In 1838 it was described as a Muslim village, located in the Beni Hasan district, west of Jerusalem.
In 1863, Victor Guérin found a village of one hundred and eighty people. He further noted that their houses were standing on the slopes of a mountain and that the mountainside was covered by successive terraces. An Ottoman village list from about 1870 counted 38 houses and a population of 115, whereby only men were counted.
In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund’s Survey of Western Palestine described Setaf as “a village of moderate size, of stone houses, perched on the steep side of a valley. It has a spring lower down, on the north.” In 1896 the population of Sataf was estimated to be about 180 persons.
The Sataf Village is Abandoned in 1948
On July 13–14, 1948 the Arab village was depopulated by the Har’el Brigade, during Operation Danny.
Sataf and the surrounding area became part of the newly created State of Israel. A short time after the 1948 War, a small group of Jewish immigrants from North Africa settled for a few months in the village area. Subsequently, the IDF’s Unit 101 and paratroopers used it for training purposes.
In the 1980s the Jewish National Fund began the restoration of ancient agricultural terraces, and the area around the springs has been turned into a tourist site. A forest around the site was also planted by the Jewish National Fund.