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Kawkaba is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic كوكبا
Name meaning Star, or mountain, or donjon[1]
Also spelled Kaukaba
Subdistrict Gaza
Coordinates 31°37′51.11″N 34°39′46.21″E / 31.6308639°N 34.6628361°E / 31.6308639; 34.6628361Coordinates: 31°37′51.11″N 34°39′46.21″E / 31.6308639°N 34.6628361°E / 31.6308639; 34.6628361
Palestine grid 117/115
Population 680 (1945)
Area 8,542 dunams
Date of depopulation 12 May 1948[2]
Cause(s) of depopulation Influence of nearby town's fall
Current localities Kokhav Michael

Kawkaba (Arabic: كوكبا‎), known to the Crusaders as Coquebel, was a Palestinian Arab village that was captured by Israel during Operation Yoav during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and depopulated.


The village was situated on an uneven stretch of red-brown soil on the southern coastal plain. It lay on the highway constructed by the British during World War II, which paralleled the coastal highway.[3]


The site was known during the Crusades as Coquebel. Kawkaba contained an archaeological site with a pool, cisterns, the foundations of buildings, columns, severed capitals. North of it was Khirbat Kamas, which was identified as the Crusader Camsa and which yielded some archaeological artifacts.[3]

In 1596, Kawkab, the site identified with Kawkaba, was part of the Ottoman Empire, with a population of 88. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat, barley, sesame, fruit trees and vineyards.[4]

In the late nineteenth century, the village of Kawkaba had a rectangular layout along the above-mentioned road, and expanded north-south alongside it; it had a well to the west and a pool to the north.[5]

Kawkaba shared an elementary school with the villages of Bayt Tima and Hulayqat. Its houses were made of adobe and cement, and its shops were located at the village center, on the western side of the road. On its eastern site were two water sources: a spring and a 70-meter deep well. The villagers, who were all Muslims, engaged in rainfed agriculture, cultivating grain and winter and summer vegetables. Towards the end of the Mandate period they also cultivated fruits, such as figs and grapes, on all their land expect to the west. In 1944/45 a total of 8,166 dunums was allotted to cereals; 166 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.[3]

1948 and after[edit]

The village that was captured by Israel during Operation Yoav during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The fall of the village was preceded by the events at nearby Burayr; where the Haganah Oded Brigade apparently executed a large number of military age Palestinians. The Kawkaba villages had offered to surrender to the Yishuv's forces but the Haganah drove out the last of the inhabitants on the 27/28 May 1948.[6] The village was on the front line between the Israeli and Egyptian armies through the summer of 1948 and appears to have changed hands several times.[7] In an attack on 18 July 1948 nineteen Palmach members of the Negev Brigade were killed.[8]

In 1950 the Israeli settlement of Kokhav Michael was founded on village land, southeast of the village site.[3]

According to Khalidi, by 1992 the remaining structures on the village land were:

"The site is overgrown with sycamore and Christ´s -thorn trees. The old road, as well as crumbled walls and debris in a wooded part of the site are clearly visible. The land in the vicinity is cultivated by Israeli farmers."[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 368
  2. ^ Morris, 2004, p xix village #304. Also gives cause for depopulation
  3. ^ a b c d e Khalidi, 1992, p.122
  4. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 145. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 122
  5. ^ Conder and Kitchener, SWP III, 1883, p.260. Also cited in Khalidi, 1992, p.122
  6. ^ Morris, Benny, (second edition 2004 third printing 2006) The Birth Of The Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-00967-7 p 258
  7. ^ For example see Operation An-Far, Khalidi, 1992, page 122.
  8. ^ Palmach memorial website


External links[edit]