Arab Suqrir
'Arab Suqrir was a Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

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 the District of Gaza
District of Gaza
The District of Gaza was an administrative district, situated in the southern Mediterranean coastline of the British Mandate of Palestine. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the district disintegrated, with Israel controlling the northern and eastern portions while Egypt held control of the southern...

, located 38 kilometres (23.6 mi) northeast of Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

 in a flat area with an elevation of 25 metres (82 ft) along the coastal plain just north of Isdud. The total land area of the village was 40,224 dunam
A dunam or dönüm, dunum, donum, dynym, dulum was a non-SI unit of land area used in the Ottoman Empire and representing the amount of land that can be plowed in a day; its value varied from 900–2500 m²...

s, of which 12,270 was 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...

-owned, while the remainder was public property. In 1931, it had a population of 530, decreasing to 390 in 1945. It was destroyed and depopulated 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...



The latter part of the town's name, Arab Suqrir could have derived from the Canaanite name of the site, "Shakrun".

Taqi al-Din Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn 'Abd al-Qadir ibn Muhammad al-Maqrizi ; Arabic: , was an Egyptian historian more commonly known as al-Maqrizi or Makrizi...

 mentions Suqrir as a place that the new amir Lajin
Lachin royal name: al-Malik al-Mansour Hossam ad-Din Lachin al-Mansuri Lachin (Arabic: لاجين) royal name: al-Malik al-Mansour Hossam ad-Din Lachin al-Mansuri Lachin (Arabic: لاجين) royal name: al-Malik al-Mansour Hossam ad-Din Lachin al-Mansuri (Arabic: الملك المنصور حسام الدين لاجين المنصورى (d....

 passed through on his return to Egypt, after the defeat of his rival the sultan Kitbagha in 1296 C.E

Under the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, in 1596, it was under the administration of the nahiya of Gaza, part of the Liwa of Gaza
Liwa of Gaza
The Sanjak of Gaza was a sanjak of the Damascus Eyalet, Ottoman Empire. It administrative center was within the Gaza City....

. With a population of 55 (10 households), the village paid taxes on wheat, barley, sesame
Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods....

, beehives, and goats. The original inhabitants of the village were Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

s who gradually settled on the site, built stone houses, and became farmers.

1948 War and aftermath

On January 11, 1948, 'Arab Suqrir was subject to the first 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 :...

 operational proposal to level a village. An intelligence report reveals orders that "The village should be destroyed and some males from the same village should be murdered." According to Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i historian 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 report was issued as a result of the killing of eleven Haganah scouts outside patrol at Gan Yavne
Gan Yavne
Gan Yavne is a in the Center District of Israel, located adjacent to the city of Ashdod. It was founded in 1931 and declared a local council in 1950.Gan Yavne lies east of the Tel-Aviv–Ashkelon highway...

 by militiamen from 'Arab Suqrir on January 9. The recommendation of leveling the village was endorsed by Haganah intelligence director Ziama Divon who said "the Arabs in the area expect a reprisal... A lack of response on our part will be interpreted as a sign of weakness."

According to Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi is an Oxford University-educated Palestinian historian who has written extensively on the Palestinian exodus. He is General Secretary and co-founder of the Institute for Palestine Studies, established in Beirut in December 1963 as an independent research and publishing center...

, press accounts at the time told a different story. The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 quoted police sources saying that a party of Jews from nearby Yavne
Yavne is a city in the Central District of Israel. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , at the end of 2009 the city had a population of 33,000.-History:...

 attacked "Wadi Sukrayr" with gunfire on January 9, adding that police arrived and counterattacked, resulting in the deaths of eight 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...

s and twelve Jews. The Jaffa
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

-based newspaper Filastin
Filastin (newspaper)
Filastin was a twice-weekly newspaper published from 1911-1948 in Palestine. Published from Jaffa, the principal publishers were Isa al-Isa and his cousin Yusef al-Isa. Both al-Isas were Greek Orthodox, opponents of British administration, and supporters of pan-Arab unity...

 also reported an attack on the village on January 9.

On January 20, the official order was issued with directives to "... Destroy the well... destroy the village completely, kill all the adult males, and destroy the reinforcements that arrive." However, when the operation was carried out on January 25, the women and children had already evacuated a few days prior and the roughly 30 men who had remained to guard the village after hearing of the approach by the Haganah. Morris writes that the Israelis destroyed the houses, two trucks, and the nearby well, citing a report that said "The village, apart from a few relics, no longer exists." The Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 reported that the Haganah bombed fifteen or twenty houses in an Arab village near Yibna
Yibna was a Palestinian village of 5,420 inhabitants, located 15 kilometers southwest of Ramla. Yibna was occupied by Israeli forces on June 4, 1948, and was depopulated during the military assault and expulsion.-History:...

, but gave no casualty figures and quoted informants that the bombing were in retaliation for attacks on Jewish convoys.

The inhabitants of 'Arab Suqrir were angry that "no village dared to come to their help and they asked how could the Arabs fight this way." Some villagers returned to the site soon after its destruction and finally left at the end of March. The village came under the control of Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 by the Haganah's Givati 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...

 around May 10, 1948 at the start of 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...

, but the village was not physically destroyed until August 24–25 in Operation Nikayon.

Khalidi wrote that the village remains consist of "overgrown weeds, a few cactuses, and trees. Two houses remain standing. One of them is in a citrus grove and has a concrete frame and cinder block walls. On the top of the flat roof is an illiya." Two Jewish towns are currently located on the former land of 'Arab Suqrir: Nir Gallim was established in 1949 and Ashdod was established in 1955.


According to Petersen, the village site is today located in the centre of Bene Darom, with the remains of a khan
A caravanserai, or khan, also known as caravansary, caravansera, or caravansara in English was a roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day's journey...

 located in a wooded park next to the water tower of the Israeli settlement. The khan ruins were first described by Victor Guérin
Victor Guérin
Victor Guérin was a French intellectual, explorer and amateur archaeologist. He published books describing the geography, archeology and history of the areas he explored, which included Greece, Asia Minor, North Africa, Syria and Palestine.-Biography:From 1840, Guerin was a professor of rhetoric...

, who inspected them in the 1860s, and who wrote the following description:
This ruin is that of a Khan, now overthrown. It is 60 paces long by 37 broad. It contains a cistern
A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater. Cisterns are distinguished from wells by their waterproof linings...

 and a small vaulted magazine, as yet not destroyed. Below the hillock
A hillock or knoll is a small hill, usually separated from a larger group of hills such as a range. Hillocks are similar in their distribution and size to small mesas or buttes. The term is largely a British one...

 covered by its ruins I remarked on the east a reservoir and viaduct
A viaduct is a bridge composed of several small spans. The term viaduct is derived from the Latin via for road and ducere to lead something. However, the Ancient Romans did not use that term per se; it is a modern derivation from an analogy with aqueduct. Like the Roman aqueducts, many early...

, a well partly fallen in, but well built. A canal, traces of which are alone visible, carried the water of the reservoir to a fountain
A fountain is a piece of architecture which pours water into a basin or jets it into the air either to supply drinking water or for decorative or dramatic effect....

, now demolished, and situated in the plain near the road

Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau
Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau was a noted French Orientalist and archaeologist.-Biography:Clermont-Ganneau was born in Paris, son of a sculptor of some repute...

 visited the place in 1873, and gave a very similar description, with the addition: "this must have been the site of some ancient "manzel", or posting-house, on the Arab route from Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 to Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...


The site was registered as "an ancient monument" during the British Mandate of Palestine-period, although the owners were permitted to build a reservoir 20m square within the khan.

Petersen, inspecting the place in 1994, found the place in much the same condition as during the British mandate period, except that the reservoir from the Mandate time is now replaced with a water-tower. Petersen described the remains as comprising a nearly 40m long wall, running north-south, with an entrance near the north end. A barrel-vaulted chamber, with an interior measuring 8.3m long and 3.8m wide, is located inside the khan, just south of the entrance.

External links

  • Welcome To 'Arab Suqrir
  • T'Arab Suqrir from the 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...

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