Abu Shusha

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Abu Shusha
Abu Shusha is located in Mandatory Palestine
Abu Shusha
Abu Shusha
Arabic ابو شوشة
Subdistrict Ramle
Coordinates 31°51′25.20″N 34°54′56.38″E / 31.8570000°N 34.9156611°E / 31.8570000; 34.9156611Coordinates: 31°51′25.20″N 34°54′56.38″E / 31.8570000°N 34.9156611°E / 31.8570000; 34.9156611
Population 720[1]-870[2] (1945)
Area 9,425[2] dunams

9.4 km²

Date of depopulation 14 May 1948[3]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Ameilim, Pedaya

Abu Shusha (Arabic: ابو شوشة‎) was a Palestinian Arab village in the Ramle Subdistrict of Mandatory Palestine, located 8 km southeast of Ramle. It was depopulated in May 1948.

Abu Shusha was located on the slope of Tel Jazar, which is commonly identified with the ancient city of Gezer. In April-May 1948, during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, 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.[4] With their descendants, they numbered about 6,198 in 1998.


The Crusaders won a battle against Saladin there in 1177. The Arab village Abu Shusha was built at the beginning of the 19th century.[5] 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.[6] Elihu Grant, who visited the village, described it as "tiny".[7]

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, 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.[5]

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.[8] In 1944/45 2,475 dunums of village land were allotted to cereals, while 54 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.[9]

1948 massacre and aftermath[edit]

According to Benny Morris, the village was attacked by the Givati Brigade on May 13-14, 1948 during Operation Barak. A few inhabitants fled but most remained. The Givati troops were immediately replaced by militia men from kibbutz Gezer, who were later replaced by troops from Kiryati Brigade.[10] 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. [11] A Haganah soldier was reported to have twice attempted to rape a 20-year old woman prisoner.[12] The residents that had remained in the village were expelled, apparently on 21 May.[11]

More recently, research conducted by Birzeit University, mostly on the basis of interviews with former residents, suggests that between 60-70 residents were killed or massacred during the attack.[13] In 1995 a mass grave with 52 skeletons was discovered, but their cause of death is undetermined.[14]

Israeli historian, Aryeh Yitzhaki, 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." [15]

The Israeli settlement of Ameilim was founded nearby later in 1948, while Pedaya was established in 1951; both on village land.[8] 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 as "a blot on the landscape".[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karsh, Efraim. "How Many Palestinian Arab Refugees Were There?." Israel Affairs 17.2 (2011): 224-246. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b Hadawi, 1970, p.66
  3. ^ Morris, 2004, p.xix, village #246. Also gives cause of depopulation
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 256-257
  5. ^ a b Ruth Kark, Changing patterns of landownership in nineteenth-century Palestine: the European influence, Journal of Historical Geography, vol 14, no 4 (1984) 357-384.
  6. ^ Conder, Claude Reignier and H.H. Kitchener: The Survey of Western Palestine. London:Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund. (1881) II:407. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 358
  7. ^ Grant, 1907, p. 17. Cited in Khalidi, 1992, p. 358
  8. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, p. 358
  9. ^ Hadawi, 1970, p.114 Also Khalidi, 1992, p. 358
  10. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 205
  11. ^ a b Morris, 2004, p. 257
  12. ^ "Doron" (Maoz) to HIS-AD, "The Interrogation of Women Prisoners in the village of Abu Shusha", 24 Jun. 1948, HA 105\92 aleph. Quoted in Morris, 2004, p. 257
  13. ^ Birzeit University series on Palestinian destroyed villages, 276 page report on Abu Shusha; some information here: [1]
  14. ^ Benvenisti, 1996, p. 248
  15. ^ The Palestinian Nabka 1948: The Register of Depopulated Localities in Palestine. pg. 17
  16. ^ Aron Shai, The fate of abandoned Arab villages in Israel, 1965-1969, History and Memory, Vol 18 (2006) pp86-106.


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