Al-Batani al-Gharbi

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Al-Batani al-Gharbi
Al-Batani al-Gharbi is located in Mandatory Palestine
Al-Batani al-Gharbi
Al-Batani al-Gharbi
Arabicالبطاني الغربي
Name meaningThe western Butani[1]
Coordinates31°45′29″N 34°41′58″E / 31.75806°N 34.69944°E / 31.75806; 34.69944Coordinates: 31°45′29″N 34°41′58″E / 31.75806°N 34.69944°E / 31.75806; 34.69944
Palestine grid121/129
Population980[2][3] (1945)
Area4,574[3] dunams
Date of depopulationMay 13, 1948[4]
Cause(s) of depopulationMilitary assault by Yishuv forces

Al-Batani al-Gharbi was a Palestinian village in the Gaza Subdistrict. It was depopulated during the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine on May 13, 1948, by the Giv'ati Brigade under Operation Barak. It was located 36 km northeast of Gaza.


One mention of al-Batani indicates that it was founded as a ranch by the Umayyad caliph Mu'awiyah I in the 8th century CE.[5]

Ottoman era[edit]

The village appeared as an unnamed village on the map that Pierre Jacotin compiled of the area in 1799.[6]

In 1838, Robinson noted el-Butaniyeh, the west, as Muslim village located in the Gaza district.[7]

In 1863 the French explorer Victor Guérin found the village, which he called Bathanieh el-Gharbieh, to have 400 inhabitants. He further noted three grey white mutilated marble columns by the well. By the well, there were oxen which made the water rise in a huge bucket. Guérin noted that he had seen a similar system several other places in Palestine, as well as in Tunis.[8]

An Ottoman village list of about 1870 indicated 91 houses and a population of 247, though the population count included men, only.[9][10]

In 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's "Survey of Western Palestine", described the two Butani villages as being made of adobe and "situated on low ground, with patches of garden and wells. The western one has also a pond."[11]

British Mandate era[edit]

According to the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Al-Batani al-Gharbi had a population of 556 inhabitants, all Muslims.[12] which had increased in the 1931 census to 667, still all Muslim.[13]

The population in the 1945 statistics was 980 Muslims,[2] with 4,574 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey.[3] Of this, 170 dunams were used for citrus and banana plants, 95 were for plantations and irrigable land, 4,152 used for cereals,[14] while 34 dunams were classified as built-up land.[15]

Al-Batani al-Gharbi had an elementary school for boys founded in 1947 and it had an initial enrollment of 119 students. The village had one mosque.[5]

1948, aftermath[edit]

In early May, 1948, the Al-Majdal Arab National Committee, (NC), ordered the villagers of Al-Batani al-Gharbi, together with those of Al-Batani al-Sharqi, Yasur, Bayt Daras and the three Sawafir villages to stay put.[16]

Al-Batani al-Gharbi became depopulated as part of Palmach's 'Operation Lightning' (Mivtza Barak). The objective was to compel the Arab inhabitants of the area to 'move' and by striking one or more population centres to cause an exodus, which was foreseen given the wave of panic that was sweeping Arab communities after the Deir Yassin massacre.[17] After Haganah had hit Bayt Daras, the operational orders to them on the 10 May was to "subdue" Al-Batani al-Gharbi and Al-Batani al-Sharqi, "with the same means used vis-à-vis Aqir, Bashshit and Bayt Daras."[18]

The village was depopulated around May 13, 1948.[4] Following the war the area was incorporated into the State of Israel. In 1992 the village site was described: "Cactuses and fig and sycamore trees grow on the site, and some of the village street are still clearly recognizable. The adjacent land is partially cultivated by the nearby kibbutz. A stone quarry is also located on village lands."[19]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 267
  2. ^ a b Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 31
  3. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 45
  4. ^ a b Morris, 2004, p. xix, village #279, Also gives cause of depopulation, with "?"
  5. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, pp. 83-84
  6. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 171
  7. ^ Robinson and Smith, vol 3, 2nd appendix, p. 118
  8. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 80 -81
  9. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 148 Located in Gaza district
  10. ^ Hartmann, 1883, p. 134 also noted 91 houses
  11. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 409
  12. ^ Barron, 1923, p. 9
  13. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 2
  14. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 86
  15. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 136
  16. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 179, note #112, this was according to Haganah intelligence
  17. ^ Ramzy Baroud, 'Beit Daras and a buried history of massacres,', in Asia Times, 16 April 2013.
  18. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 256, note #752
  19. ^ Khalidi, 1992, p. 84


External links[edit]