Al-Burayj Before 1948
The village stood on hilly terrain between two wadis in the north and south. To the west of al-Burayj was a secondary road that linked it to the highway between Bayt Jibrin (in the Hebron district) and Al Quds (Jerusalem)-Yafa highway; dirt paths linked it to a group of nearby villages. The name al-Burayj, a diminutive of the Arabic word al-burj, is derived from the Greek purgos which means tower.
The village houses were originally scattered across the site in no particular configuration. New construction, however, took place along the roads that let to the village from many directions, so that the village plan began to take on a star-like shape. The houses were built of cement and stone. The village population was predominantly Muslim, with 10 Christians out of an estimated total of 720 in the mid 1940s. They maintained one mosque, called the al-‚Umari mosque, perhaps as an allusion to the second Muslim caliph ‚Umar ibn al-Khattab. There was also a Greek Orthodox monastery west of the village.
Agriculture depended on rainfall and was based on grain, vegetables, and fruit trees, especially on olive trees. Wild trees, grass, and herbs also grew on parts of the land. These parts were used as grazing areas, and the trees were a source of firewood. In 1944/45 a total of 31 dunums was devoted to citrus and bananas an 9,426 dunums were allocated to cereals; 77 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. The village had several khirbas around it that contained cisterns, rock-hewn wine presses, tombs, foundations, columns, mosaic floors, and caves.
Occupation and Depopulation
Al-Burayj was probably captured during the first phase of operation ha-Har. The village fell some time between 19 and 24 October 1948, as Israeli forces moved to occupy a number of villages in the southern half of the Jerusalem corridor.
Israeli Settlements on Village Lands
The settlement of Sedot Mikha, established in 1955, is south of the site, on village land.
The Village Today
The site is now part of a large military base called Kanaf Staim (Wing Two). A large area is fenced in, and a watchtower has been built. The site is inaccessible to the public.
Source: al-Khalidi, Walid (ed.). All that remains: the Palestinian villages occupied and depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington DC: 1992.
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