Bir Ma'in

Bir Ma'in — بِير مَعِين
Known also as: Bir Imma'in
Average Elevation
275 m
Distance from Al Ramla
14 km
Year Arab Total
1931 355
1944/45 510 510
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Public Total
1944/45 9317 2 9319
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable 6252 2 6254
Built-up 9 9
6261 2 6263 (67%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Total
Cereal 2880 2880
Plantation and Irrigable 176 176
3056 3056 (33%)
Number of Houses (1931)

The village stood on rolling terrain on the edge of the western foothills of the Ramallah Mountains. It was linked by a secondary road to the Ramla-Ramallah highway (which passed the village on the northeast), and by other roads to several neighboring villages. Bir Ma'in was built around an old well that bore the same name. It was called Bermenayn by the Crusaders and was a fief of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the twelfth century. In 1596, Bir Ma'in was a village in the nahiya of Ramla (liwa' of Gaza) with a population of 165. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat, barley, olives, and sesame, as well as on other types of produce and property, such as goats, beehives, and a press that was used for processing either olives or grapes.

In the late nineteenth century, Bir Ma'in was described as a small hamlet situated on high ground. In modern times it was divided into two sections, separated by a paved street. The northern section was rectangular; the southern one had a semi-circular plan. The houses were made of mud and stone, and many houses were built during the final years of the Mandate, especially in the northwest. The village had a mosque-Bir Ma'in's population was predominantly Muslim-and, next to it, an elementary school that was founded in 1934. Its land was well endowed with ground water, which permitted the villagers to grow a variety of crops, such as grain, vegetables, grapes, figs, plums, almonds, and olives. Olives were planted on 146 dunums.1n 1944/45 a total of 2,880 dunums was allocated to cereals; 176 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. Three khirbas next to the village contained foundations of houses, fragments of columns, cisterns, caves carved in rock, burial places, and a large square corral.

With the occupation of this village on 15-16 July 1948, Israeli forces gained control of the Ramallah-al-Latrun highway. That was the objective of the second phase of Operation Dani (see Abu al-FadI, Ramla sub-disctrict), following the capture of Ramla and Lydda. The History of the War of Independence relates that the units involved in capturing the village were two platoons from the First and Second Battalions of the Yiftach Brigade. In a counterattack during the afternoon of 16 July, the Transjordanian Arab Legion suffered heavy casualties when it tried, unsuccessfully, to recapture the neighboring villages of Salbit and Barfiliya. The following day, as the Associated Press reported, Israeli forces quartered in Bir Ma'in and al-Burj put the al-Latrun-Ramallah highway under small arms fire.

The military settlement of Makkabim was established on village lands in 1986.

Two deserted buildings with crumbling walls can be seen on the site, which is otherwise overgrown with cactuses, thorny plants, foxtail, an herbal plant known as anchusa tinctoria (called "dove's foot," or rijl al-hamam, in Arabic), and pine and almond trees. Part of the surrounding land is used for target practice and other Israeli military purposes, and part of it is cultivated by Israeli farmers.