Palestine

Location, geography and climate of Beit sahur

Saturday, July 27, 2013
Beit Sahur is located in the Bethlehem Governorate (administrative district) of the Palestinian Authority, which includes three main cities (Bethlehem, Beit Sahur and Beit Jala), three refugee camps (ed-Dheisha, Ayda and al-A'za), and 65 villages.
location

Beit Sahur is located in the Bethlehem Governorate (administrative district) of the Palestinian Authority, which includes three main cities (Bethlehem, Beit Sahur and Beit Jala), three refugee camps (ed-Dheisha, Ayda and al-A'za), and 65 villages. This governorate occupies an area of about 607 square kilometres, and is bounded by the Jerusalem Governorate on the north, the Hebron Governorate on the south, the Dead Sea on the east, and Israel to the west (Fig. 1). The Governorate is distinguished by its varied topography, encompassing a series of mountains, hills and valleys of different sizes, a large number of springs and seasonal streams, and the wilderness areas descending to the east. The elevation of the governorate ranges between 930m above sea level in Beit Jala to as low as 412m below sea level along the western shore of the Dead Sea.

Beit Sahur is located approximately 2km east of Bethlehem city and is bounded by Jerusalem on the north, Hindaza village on the south, Dar Salah and esh-Shawawra villages on the east, and the municipality of Bethlehem on the west. Beit Sahur sits at an average elevation of 650m above sea level and its annual rainfall measures about 450mm.

The surrounding region is fertile, and its steep slopes are terraced to allow for cultivation. Vineyards, olive, almond and fig trees, and fields of barley and wheat colour the land according to the seasons. Beit Sahur is located very much in a transition zone between the desert and more fertile regions.

Its climate is typically “Mediterranean”, featuring hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. The winter season, from mid-December to mid-March, is characterised by cold temperatures and cloudy, rainy conditions. In summer, from May through September, the weather is consistently warm and sunny. Beit Sahur receives an average of 454 millimetres of rainfall annually and experiences its highest precipitation rates in January and February. Night dew may occur as many as 180 days per year. The town is influenced by the Mediterranean sea-breeze that begins around mid-day. However, Beit Sahur is also affected by annual waves of hot, dry and dusty conditions, the khamaseen winds that originate from the Arabian Desert especially during April and May to mid-June.

Not unlike many other Palestinian towns, Beit Sahur established a village council in 1925, one of the first to do so. This council was upgraded in 1952 to the status of a municipality, and the election of the municipal council was set to take place every four years. This arrangement held sway until 1976 when the Israelis froze all municipal elections, thus from 1976 to 2000 there were none. In August 2000, however, the Palestinian National Authority appointed a new municipal council, for a transitional period. The first democratic election was then held in 2005, and a council of 13 members was seated, under the leadership of Mr Hani Al-Hayek. Due to national and regional political crises, the election that was due in 2009 has been postponed several times, therefore the municipal council of 2005 still carries out its responsibilities. The municipality is responsible for urban planning, infrastructure development and various other services delivered by its employees. However – and despite the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994 – the Israelis still control the master plan of the city and exert full civil and security control over 47.2% of the municipality's land area (i.e. Area C), working out of an Israeli administrative office in Bethlehem.

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