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The largest remaining house in Khulda
Khulda is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic خُلدة
Name meaning "the perpetual"[1]
Also spelled Khuldeh
Subdistrict Ramle
Coordinates 31°49′10″N 34°54′14″E / 31.81944°N 34.90389°E / 31.81944; 34.90389Coordinates: 31°49′10″N 34°54′14″E / 31.81944°N 34.90389°E / 31.81944; 34.90389
Palestine grid 141/136
Population 280[2] (1945)
Area 9,461[2] dunams
Date of depopulation April 6, 1948[3]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Mishmar David[4]

Khulda (Arabic: خُلدة‎), also Khuldeh, was a Palestinian Arab village located 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) south of Ramla in the Mandatory Palestine. Known as Huldre to the Crusaders, it is also mentioned in documents dating to the periods of Mamluk, Ottoman, and Mandatory rule over Palestine. During the 1948 war, the village was depopulated as part of Operation Nachshon and was subsequently destroyed. The Israeli kibbutz of Mishmar David was established that same year on land belonging to the village.


Khulda lay close to a highway connecting Gaza to the Ramla-Jerusalem highway.[5] During the Crusades, the village was known as Huldre. Situated 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) west-south-west of Imwas, prior to the 12th century CE, it lay on the border between the Greek archbishopric of Lydda and the ecclesiastical division of Emmaus, the latter of which was governed directly by archpriest of the Patriarch of Jerusalem.[6]

During the period of Mamluk rule over Palestine, Mujir al-Din al-'Ulaymi narrates how the under-Governor of Ramleh in 1495 had to take refuge against marauding Bedouin in a small fort which then existed at Khulda.[7][8]

Khulda, like the rest of Palestine, was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 and in 1596, it formed part of the nahiya ("subdistrict") of Ramla, in the liwa of Gaza. The village paid taxes on wheat, barley, beehives, and goats, and had a population of sixty-six.[9]

When Edward Robinson passed by in 1838, he described Khulda as "a large village" on a hill.[10]

An official village list of about 1870 showed that the village had 28 houses and a population of 76, though the population count included only men.[11] Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau visited Khulda in 1871, and was told by the inhabitants that the village used to be surrounded by a fortified wall, two gates of which were still supposed to be in situ. Clermont-Ganneau noted that this agreed well with what Mujir al-Din had written about the place.[12] At the end of the 19th century, Khulda was described as a large village, built of stone and mud, situated on a hill. The village had a masonry well to the east.[13]

During British rule over Mandate Palestine, ten labourers from Khulda worked gratis for the Jewish National Fund on the Khulde drainage project, most of which took place on the Arab village's lands.[14] The project, like others of its kind was essential to Jewish settlement in Palestine, as malaria had impeded permanent settlement at Jewish Khulde in 1921.[15]

At the time of 1931 census, there were 29 inhabited houses in Khulda for a population of 178 Muslims,[16] and toward the end of the Mandate in 1945, the population had grown to 280.[17] The villagers maintained a mosque and there were two water wells for domestic use.[5]

Villagers in Khulda were engaged in the rearing of animal livestock. The Lydda District had one of the largest animal markets in Palestine, alongside that of the Nazareth District; however, starvation was a common affliction among the herds in the former in the 20th century, and the herd at Khluda was described as 'a typical specimen of extreme debility'.[18]

1948 and aftermath[edit]

Ruins in Khulda

Prior to the outbreak of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Khulda was conquered by Jewish forces on April 6, 1948 during Operation Nachshon.[19] On April 20, 1948 it was leveled by bulldozers.[19]

Kibbutz Mishmar David was established in 1948, about 0.5 km (0.31 mi) west of the village site, on village land. Tal Shachar is nearby, about 2 km (1.2 mi) south of the village site, but it is not on village land.[5]

Andrew Petersen, an archaeologist specializing in Islamic architecture visited Khulda in 1993, and notes that the remains of at least four stone buildings can be seen, although only two of them are standing. The first of these is a rectangular structure (12 m (39 ft) x 6.5 m (21 ft)) with two separate rooms, each with its own entrance. Each door is flanked with two large windows. Both doors and windows are covered with lintels, above which is a relieving arch. An inscription above one of the doors have been removed. The roof is made with iron girders, with reinforced concrete, while the walls are dressed limestone. According to Petersen, the building must have served some public purpose, and it probably dates from the final years of the Ottoman rule, or the early British Mandate of Palestine period.[20]

The second building stands north of first one, and is about half in size (6 m x 6 m). The roof is made in the same manner as the first house. The walls are made of boulders and rubble stone, joined together with mud mortar. A shallow niche in the south wall might be a mihrab. The walls are decorated with stencilled friezes of palm tree and palmettes in blue-green. A barely legible inscription above the door gives a 14th-century AH (late 19th-century CE) date.[20]


  1. ^ Conder, 2009, p. 268.
  2. ^ a b Hadawi, 1970, p.67.
  3. ^ Morris, 2004, p.xix, village #261. Also gives cause of depopulation.
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xxi, settlement #37
  5. ^ a b c Khalidi, 1992, p. 389
  6. ^ Pringle, 1993, p. 53.
  7. ^ Mujir al-Din, 1866, p.702 (Arabic text, published by Bulak, Cairo), cited in Clermont-Ganneau, 1896, II, p.251 -252
  8. ^ Moudjir ed-dyn, 1876, (French text) p.294
  9. ^ Hütteroth, Wolf-Dieter and Kamal Abdulfattah, 1977, Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft. p. 153. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 389
  10. ^ Robinson, 1841, p.21
  11. ^ Socin, 1879. p. 151
  12. ^ Clermont-Ganneau, 1896, II, p.467
  13. ^ SWP, II, p.408. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 389
  14. ^ Sufian, 200, p. 324. N.B. In this text, Khulda is referred to as Khuldeh el-Islam, presumably to distinguish it from the newly created nearby Jewish settlement which was also named Khulde.
  15. ^ Sufian, 1997, p. 103.
  16. ^ Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem, 1932, p. 21.
  17. ^ Government of Palestine, Village Statistics 1945.
  18. ^ El-Eini, 2006, p. 398.
  19. ^ a b Morris, p. 235.
  20. ^ a b Petersen, 2002, p. 200


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