The village before 1948
The village was situated 21km northeast of Gaza on the coastal plain in an area rich with archaeological finds, some from the crusader period. In the cemetery, south of the village, a mosaic floor bears witness to Roman or Byzantine presence. Similarly in the village mosque architectural elements from more ancient times could be discerned. The village was close to the coastal road so that it had easy access to Gaza and Al- Majdal. In 1596 the population was 693 people, in 1931 the number was 762 people living in 157 adobe houses.. The houses were grouped in blocks separated by streets and open spaces. By 1944-45 the number had increased to 1060, most of them Muslims. During the British Mandate the village had several shops, a Mosque and a Elementary School which it shared with the neighboring villages of Kawkaba and Hulayqat.
10,640 dunums of village land were allocated to mostly rain-fed agriculture which was their primary source of income. Grain, vegetables and fruit (apricots, almonds and figs) were the main crops.
Occupation and depopulation
Early attempts to conquer the village were unsuccessful. The first, reported by the Jaffa based daily newspaper Filastin, as early as February 9-th 1948 was fended off by heavy gunfire from the defenders of the village. Two more took place in June and July. Aerial bombardment and heavy artillery shelling in mid –October led to the flight of a large part of the population. The village was finally occupied on October 19-20 apparently by soldiers of the Giv'ati brigade in the early stages of operation Yo'av.
The Village Today
No Israeli settlements have been built on village land. Sycamore and carob trees grow around the rubble on the site. Surrounding land is used for agriculture.
Source: Walid Khalidi, All that Remains, 1990, 89-90
Information from additional sources:
According to PalestineRemembered.com the village, which was defended by the Egyptian Army fell on October 18-th. and Jewish troops committed a massacre among the villagers.
The Palestinian Scholar Salman Abu Sitta estimates that 1230 people lived in the village in 1948. (Salman Abu Sitta, The Palestinian Nakba 1948, 2000, 44)
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