Iraq Suwaydan

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Iraq Suwaydan
British police fort in Iraq Suwadan
Iraq Suwaydan is located in Mandatory Palestine
Iraq Suwaydan
Iraq Suwaydan
Arabic عراق سويدان
Name meaning "The cavern of Suweidan"[1]
Also spelled Iraq al-Suweidan
Subdistrict Gaza
Coordinates 31°38′54.86″N 34°41′19.09″E / 31.6485722°N 34.6886361°E / 31.6485722; 34.6886361Coordinates: 31°38′54.86″N 34°41′19.09″E / 31.6485722°N 34.6886361°E / 31.6485722; 34.6886361
Population 660[2] (1945)
Area 7,529[2] dunams

7.5 km²

Date of depopulation July 8, 1948[3]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Yad Natan, Otzem, Sde Yoav

Iraq Suwaydan (Arabic: عراق سويدان‎, Hebrew: עיראק סווידאן) was a Palestinian Arab village located 27 kilometers northeast of Gaza City. It was captured by Israeli forces in Operation Yoav against the defending Egyptian Army during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The village infrastructure, with the exception of the police station built by the British Mandate authorities, was destroyed.


In the late nineteenth century, Iraq Suwaydan was described as a moderate-sized village situated on a plain.[4]

British Mandata era[edit]

In 1931, the village had 81 houses. In 1942, the villagers established an elementary school and in 1947 shared its facilities with the children of the neighboring villages, Ibdis and Bayt 'Affa. There were 104 students in the mid-1940s.[5]

The main crop was grain, with some almond trees and grapes. In 1944/45 a total of 7,329 dunums was allocated to cereals, and 9 dunams were irrigated or used for orchards.[5][6]

1948 and aftermath[edit]

Palmach troops in Egyptian trenches at Iraq Suwaydan
Police fort bombing, 9 November 1948

On May 12, 1948, the British authorities withdrew, handing over the police fort to the Egyptian army, which then garrisoned it.[7] The fort controlled the road between al-Majdal and Bayt Jibrin as well as the main road to the Negev. The village was captured and destroyed during Operation Yoav. Eight Israeli attempts to capture the fort failed. It finally fell on 9 November 1948 after a massive bombardment including air strikes by B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft.[5]

In 1953, Yad Natan was founded east of Iraq Suwaydan on village lands. In 1955, Otzem was established on village lands to the southeast and in 1956, Sde Yoav was established west of the site, close to village land.[5] In 1992, remains of houses could be seen in a eucalyptus grove that the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi identified as the center of the village, along with cacti and remnants of a pool. Two roads, one passing through the village and the other leading to fields, were recognizable. The British police station, renamed Metzudat Yo'av, was still in use and the surrounding lands were cultivated by Israeli farmers.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 365
  2. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 45
  3. ^ Morris, 2004, p xx, village #380. Also gives the cause for depopulation
  4. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p.259. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p.108
  5. ^ a b c d e Khalidi, 1992, p.109
  6. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 87
  7. ^ David Tal War in Palestine, 1948: Israeli and Arab Strategy and Diplomacy, Routledge 2004 p.177.


External links[edit]