Burayr 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...

, 18 kilometres (11.2 mi) northeast of Gaza City. Its population in 1945 was 2,740 and it was depopulated in 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...

. It had an average elevation of 100 metres (328.1 ft).


Burayr's history dates back to the 1st century CE when it was an Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 town by the name of Beror Hayil. When it came under the control of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 along with all of 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....

, it was renamed Buriron. The village's current name dates from the Arab conquest of Palestine
Muslim conquest of Syria
The Muslim conquest of Syria occurred in the first half of the 7th century, and refers to the region known as the Bilad al-Sham, the Levant, or Greater Syria...

 in the 7th century, although it is not mentioned in any Arab or medieval Muslim sources.

During Mamluk
A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans/Kipchaks The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior...

 rule, it was positioned on a main highway leading from 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,...

 to Beit Jibrin, branching off the Via Maris
Via Maris
Via Maris is the modern name for an ancient trade route, dating from the early Bronze Age, linking Egypt with the northern empires of Syria, Anatolia and Mesopotamia — modern day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria....

 at Beit Hanoun
Beit Hanoun
Beit Hanoun is a city on the north-east edge of the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of 32,187 in mid-year 2006. It is administered by the Palestinian Authority...

. Burayr had its own independent source for water, making it a desired rest place for travelers. In the ruins of the village was discovered Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

 inscriptions dating from the 10th centuries.

Burayr was incorporated into 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 1517 with all of Palestine and in 1596, it was under the administration of the Nahiya of Gaza, part of the Sanjak of Gaza. The village paid taxes on wheat, barley, fruits, beehives, and goats.

In 1838, Edward Robinson
Edward Robinson (scholar)
Edward Robinson was an American biblical scholar, known as the “Father of Biblical Geography.” He has been referred to as the “founder of modern Palestinology.” -Biography:...

 found that Burayr was "a flourishing village forming a sort of central point in the plain..[It had] a large public well, at which camels were drawing water by means of a Sakieh, or water wheel with jars..." In 1863, Burayr was described as a "large and prosperous village of 1,000" and all of its houses were made of mud, except for that of the village sheikh
Not to be confused with sikhSheikh — also spelled Sheik or Shaikh, or transliterated as Shaykh — is an honorific in the Arabic language that literally means "elder" and carries the meaning "leader and/or governor"...

 whose home was built of stone, while the SWP described the village in 1881 as large, with a water wheel to the east, a pool to the north and a garden to the south.

Burayr was strategically important in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and on November 9, 1917, was one of the first places captured by the Allied Forces from 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...

, consolidating British hold on positions controlling the approaches to 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:...

 and Jerusalem.

During the British Mandate period, Burayr expanded westward, a mosque was built in the center of the village along with a clinic and grain mill. There were two primary schools—one for girls and one for boys—founded in 1920. Water was supplied by three wells inside the village and toward the end of the Mandate, villagers had drilled artesian wells
Artesian aquifer
An artesian aquifer is a confined aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure. This causes the water level in a well to rise to a point where hydrostatic equilibrium has been reached. This type of well is called an artesian well...

. The local economy boosted in the 1940s when the Iraqi Petroleum Company discovered oil in the vicinity of Burayr and drilled an oil well. The activities of the marketplace were supplemented by a weekly Wednesday market that attracted other villagers and Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

. Agriculture and animal husbandry employed most of the residents and the main crops were citrus, grapes, and figs.

1948 War and aftermath

A significant foray into Burayr occurred in the early weeks of the war, on January 29, 1948. Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i forces entered in five armored vehicles, but were repulsed without any casualties. The following month, on February 14, an Israeli convoy exchanged fire with local militiamen and withdrew. Afterward, villagers built a barricade at the entrance of Burayr, although it was taken by British troops the next day. On April 20, Jewish World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 veterans established a military settlement, Beror Chayil, on a hilltop less than a mile from Burayr. The New York Times reported that "when the Arabs of Burayr awoke they found the Jews setting up pre-fabricated houses and building a defensive wall and watchtower." The villagers fired upon the settlers, but by noon of that day, Bror Hayil
Bror Hayil
Bror Hayil is a kibbutz in southern Israel. Located near Sderot, it fall under the jurisdiction of Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council. In 2007 it had a population of 462....

 was setup. On May 12-13, the Palmach
The Palmach was the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Yishuv during the period of the British Mandate of Palestine. The Palmach was established on May 15, 1941...

's Negev Brigade
Negev Brigade
The 12th Negev Brigade was an Israeli infantry brigade that served in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. It was commanded by Nahum "Sergei" Sarig and consisted of four Palmach battalions...

 and 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...

 commenced 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...

, resulting in the capture of Burayr, which they referred to as "the village of the killers". Israeli troops killed a large number of male villagers who were of army age and raped and killed a teenage girl. All of the inhabitants fled to Gaza.

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...

, "One can see remnants of houses, including an insubstantial portion of a cement wall, among some eucalyptus trees at the entrance of one house. Some village streets are still visible." Israel established Telamim
Tlamim is a moshav in southern Israel in Hevel Lakhish. It is part of the Lakhish Regional Council. The moshav was founded in 1950 by Jewish immigrants from the island of Djerba in Tunisia as part of the effort to settle the region. Its name is derived from a verse in the Book of Psalms : "Thou...

 and Heletz
Heletz is a moshav in southern Israel. Located between Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat and Sderot, it falls under the jurisdiction of Hof Ashkelon Regional Council...

 in 1950, Sde David in 1955, and Zohar in 1956.

External links

  • Welcome to Burayr, palestineremembered.com
  • Burayr, 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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