For centuries, the coastal area was a main thoroughfare between Egypt and the Mediterranean coast, used by traders and conquering armies alike. The trade route through Gaza to Egypt brought great economic advantage to the area. In previous centuries, the lack of restricting borders enabled unobstructed communication and travel and the intermixing of inﬂuences and styles, especially among the Bedouin tribes. This rich agricultural area prospered by settled Bedouin tribes that became active in regional trade on routes connecting Egypt, the Levant, and Arabia. Many families benefited from the increase in regional trade and became large land owners during this time. During Ottoman rule the Al Qarra clan became the largest land owning family in Southern Gaza due to their vast trade networks.
As recorded in 1886, Bani Suheila was a large village counting one hundred and twenty huts, partly built of stone, partly of adobe, and surrounded by gardens of water-melons, figs, palms, jummez, apricots and legumes. In the north a good but deep well, worked by a camel, supplied the town with drinking water. Near the town, in Sheikh Yusuf several ancient remains, including small twisted marble columns and building stones were found.
At the end of the British period, in 1945, Bani Suheila had a population of 3,220, all Arabs, with 11,128 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, 54 dunams were for plantations and irrigable land, 10,639 used for cereals, while 97 dunams were built-up land.
^A Survey of Palestine: Prepared in December 1945 and January 1946 for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry By Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Jewish Problems in Palestine and Europe, United Nations General Assembly. Special Committee on Palestine Published by Institute for Palestine Studies, 1991 ISBN 0-88728-211-3 p 132