Abu Shusha
Abu Shusha was an Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 village in Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, 8 km southeast of Ramle which was depopulated in 1948.

Abu Shusha was located on the slope of Tel Jazar, which is commonly identified with the ancient city of Gezer
Gezer was a Canaanite city-state and biblical town in ancient Israel. Tel Gezer , an archaeological site midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is now an Israeli national park....


In April-May 1948, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, Abu Shusha was attacked several times. The final assault began on May 13, one day prior to Israel's declaration of independence. Abu Shusha residents attempted to defend the village, but the village was occupied on May 14. Those residents who had not already died or fled were expelled by May 21. With their descendants, they numbered about 6198 as of 1998.


The Crusaders
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 won a battle against Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

 there in 1177. The Arab village was built at the beginning of the 19th century. In the late nineteenth century, Abu Shusha was described as a small village built of stone and mud and surrounded by cactus hedges, populated by about 100 families. Elihu Grant
Elihu Grant
Elihu Grant was an American scholar and writer on Palestine.Grant was ordained Methodist minister in 1900, and between 1901 and 1904 he was superintendent of the American Friends Schools in Ramallah and Jerusalem...

, who visited the village, described it as "tiny".

In 1869 or 1872, the village lands were purchased by Melville Peter Bergheim of Jerusalem, a Protestant of German origin. Bergheim established a modern agricultural farm, using European methods and equipment. Bergheim's ownership of the land was hotly contested by the villagers, by legal and illegal means. After the Bergheim company went bankrupt in 1892, Abu Shusa's lands were managed by a government receiver. In 1910s, part of the land was sold by the receiver to the villagers and the rest to the Jewish Colonization Association
Jewish Colonization Association
The Jewish Colonization Association was created on September 11, 1891 by the Baron Maurice de Hirsch. Its aim was to facilitate the mass emigration of Jews from Russia and other Eastern European countries, by settling them in agricultural colonies on lands purchased by the committee, particularly...

, which gave the villagers one third of their purchase in order to settle the dispute. After World War I, the land in Jewish hands was sold to the Maccabean Land Company, and later transferred to the Jewish National Fund
Jewish National Fund
The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. The JNF is a quasi-governmental, non-profit organisation...


The population of Abu Shusha, consisting of Muslim Palestinians, was 627 in 1931 and 970 in 1944/45. The village had a mosque and a number of shops. A village school was founded in 1947, with an initial enrollment of 33 students. In 1944/45 2,475 dunum
Dunum is a municipality in the district of Wittmund, in Lower Saxony, Germany....

s of village land were allotted to cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

s, while 54 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.

1948 Massacre, and Aftermath

According to Benny Morris
Benny Morris
Benny Morris is professor of History in the Middle East Studies department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in the city of Be'er Sheva, Israel...

, the village was attacked by the Giv'ati Brigade
Givati Brigade
The Givati Brigade is an infantry brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, and serves as its amphibious force. Givati soldiers are designated by purple berets...

 on May 13-14, 1948 during Operation Barak
Operation Barak
Operation Barak was a Haganah offensive launched just before the end of the British Mandate in Palestine. It was part of Plan Dalet. Its objective was to capture villages North of Gaza in anticipation of the arrival of the Egyptian army...

. A few inhabitants fled but most remained. The Giv'ati troops were immediately replaced by militia men from Kibbutz Gezer
Gezer (kibbutz)
Gezer is a kibbutz in central Israel. Located in the Shephelah between Modi'in, Ramle and Rehovot, it falls under the jurisdiction of Gezer Regional Council...

, who were later replaced by troops from Kiryati Brigade
Kiryati Brigade
The Kiryati Brigade was formed in 1948 by David Ben-Gurion and was one of the original nine brigades that made up the Haganah. The Kiryati Brigade was initially responsible for securing the area in and around Tel Aviv...

. On May 19, Arab Legion sources claimed that villagers were being killed. On May 21, Arab authorities appealed to the Red Cross to stop "barbaric acts" they said were being committed in Abu Shusha. A Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

 soldier was reported to have twice attempted to rape a 20-year old woman prisoner. The residents that had remained in the village were expelled, apparently on 21 May.

More recently, research conducted by Birzeit University
Birzeit University
Birzeit University is a university located in Birzeit near Ramallah, Palestinian territories. BZU is among the foremost tertiary educational institutes in the Palestinian territories and has played a significant role in the Palestinian political dialogue.- History :The institution was originally...

, mostly on the basis of interviews with former residents, suggests that between 60-70 residents were killed or massacred during the attack. In 1995 a mass grave with 52 skeletons was discovered, but their cause of death is undetermined.

Israeli historian, Aryeh Yitzhaki
Aryeh Yitzhaki
Aryeh Yitzhaki is an Israeli military historian who has served as a lecturer at the Bar Ilan University Ramat Gan and as a senior lecturer in the field of military history in IDF courses for officers.-References:...

, explains the events of Abu Shusha as a massacre citing a testimony from the Kheil Mishmar (Guard Units):

"A soldier of Kiryati Brigade captured 10 men and 2 women. All were killed except a young woman who was raped and disposed of. At the dawn of 14 May, units of Giv'ati brigade assaulted Abu Shusha village. Fleeing villagers were shot on sight. Others were killed in the streets or axed to death. Some were lined up against a wall and executed. No men were left; women had to bury the dead."

The Israeli settlement of Ameilim was founded nearby later in 1948, while Pedaya
Pedaya is a moshav in central Israel. Located in the Shephelah near Mazkeret Batya, it falls under the jurisdiction of Gezer Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 586.The moshav was founded in 1951 immigrants from Iraq...

 was established in 1951; both on village land. The remains of the village were destroyed in 1965 as part of a government operation to clear the country of abandoned villages, which were regarded by the Israel Land Administration
Israel Land Administration
The Israel Land Administration is part of the government of Israel and is responsible for managing the 93% of the land in Israel which is in the public domain. These lands are either property of the state, belong to the Jewish National Fund which controls 13% of the land, or belong to the Israel...

 as "a blot on the landscape".

External links

  • Welcome to Abu-Shusha
  • Abu Shusha, from Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center
    Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center
    Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center is an organization established in 1996. It is located at 4 Raja Street, Ramallah in the West Bank. The traditional manor that houses the centre was the former family home of Khalil Salem Salah, the mayor of Ramallah between 1947/1951, is now owned by the Palestinian...

  • Abu Shusha by Rami Nashashibi (1996), Center for Research and Documentation of Palestinian Society.
  • Abu Shusha - A Survivor's Testimony by Rami Nashashibi (1996), Center for Research and Documentation of Palestinian Society.
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