District: Akka (Acre)
Population 1948: 1220
Occupation date: 09/07/1948
Occupying unit: Carmeli & 7 brigades
Jewish settlements on village/town land after 1948: Oshrat
The village stood on a slightly elevated hill in the eastern portion of the plain of Acre. Secondary roads linked it to the Acre-Safad highway and to neighboring villages. It was 9 km northeast of Acre.
The first large attack on the village came on 11 June 1948, just before the first truce of the war went into effect. Eyewitnesses who were interviewed in later years said that the assault was repulsed by the local Arab militia, which numbered around sixty men, armed with thirty-five to fifty assorted rifles and one Bren gun. A much earlier attack had been reported in the Palestinian press in January. That attack, which was also repulsed, took place on 18-19 January and involved a force of eighty Jewish militiamen, according to the newspaper Filastin. The paper also reported that another attack, on the night of 6-7 February, had been driven back; no casualty figures were given.
Villagers interviewed in 1973 said that they were visited by representatives of the Arab Liberation Army (ALA) during the first truce and were advised not to evacuate the women and children from the village,as this would encourage the militia to fight better. On 9 July, the day the truce ended, some Arabs whi were collaborating with the Zionistscame to the village and asked the mukhtar to surrender, but he refused. That same night, Operation Dekel began and Kuwaykat came under heavy bombardment. One villager recalled :
"We were awakened by the loudest noise we had ever heard, shelles exploding and artillery fire... the whole village was panic... women were screaming, children were crying... Most of the villagers began tof lee with their pajamas on. The wife of Qassim Ahmad Sa'id fled carrying a pillow in her arm instead of her child...
Two people were killed and two wounded by the shelling. The militia retrated to a position in a hilly area to the east of the village and stayed there for four days, waiting in vain for ALA reinforcements to recapture the village. Many villagers fled to Abu Sinan, Kafr Yasif, and other villages that later surrendered. Those who remained in Kuwaykat (mostly elderly) were soon expelled to Kafr Yasif. In the early days after occupation, the women of the village often infiltrated the village to get food and clothing.
The units that captured Kuwaykat were from the Sheva' (seventh) and Carmeli brigades, according to Israeli historian Benny Morris. Morris quotes a company commander in the Twenty-First Battalion who participated in the attack; he confirms the villagers' account of the heaby bombardment that preceded the occupation. "I don't know whether the artillery softneing up the village caused casualties," the officer said, "but the psychological effect was achieved and the village's non-combatant inhabitants fled before we began the assault."
In January 1949, Kibbutz ha-Bonim was established near the site of Kuwaykat, on village lands. It was later renamed Beyt ha-'Emeq. Its settlers were Jewish immigrants from England, Hungary, and the Netherlands.
Little remains of the village except the deserted cemetery, completely overgrown with weeds, and rubble from houses. Inscriptions on two of the graves identify one as that of Hamad 'Isa al-Hajj, and another as that of Shaykh Salih Iskandar, who died in 1940. The shrine of Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Qurayshi still stands but its stone pedestal is badly cracked. A forest of pine and eucalyptus has been planted on the site.