Al-Sawafir al-Sharqiyya

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Al-Sawafir al-Sharqiyya
Arabic السوافير الشرقية
Name meaning The eastern nomads.[1]
Also spelled Suafir Abu Huwar; from an inhabitant who died in the 19th century[1]
Subdistrict Gaza
Palestine grid 122/123
Population 970[2][3] (1945)
Area 13,831[3] dunams
Date of depopulation May 18, 1948[4]
Cause(s) of depopulation Fear of being caught up in the fighting
Current localities 'En Tzurim,[5] Shafir,[5] Zerachya,[5] Nir Banim[5]

Al-Sawafir al-Sharqiyya was a Palestinian Arab village in the Gaza Subdistrict. It was depopulated during the 1948 War on May 18, 1948, as part of the second stage of Operation Barak. The village was located 32 km northeast of Gaza.


Remains from the late Roman (third–fourth centuries CE), Byzantine (fifth–beginning of seventh centuries CE), and Abbasid eras have been found here.[6] Columns and fragments were noted near the well.[7]

Ottoman era[edit]

Al-Sawafir al-Sharqiyya was like the rest of Palestine, incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and in the census of 1596, the village appeared as Sawafir as-Sarqi under the administration of the nahiya of Gaza, part of the Liwa of Gaza. The place was noted as hali, that is empty, but taxes were paid on wheat, barley, summer crops, vineyards, fruit trees and cotton; a total of 9,000 akçe.[8]

In 1863 Victor Guérin found it to be the largest of the three Sawafir villages.[9]

In 1882 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described it as one of three Suafir adobe villages. Each had small gardens and wells.[10]

British Mandate era[edit]

According to the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Al-Sawafir al-Sharqiyya had a population of 588 inhabitants, all Muslims,[11] increasing in the 1931 census to an all-Muslim population of 787 in 148 houses.[12]

In 1945, it had a population of 970 Muslims,[2] with a total of 13,831 dunams of land.[3] Of this, 585 dunams were for citrus and bananas, 386 for plantations or irrigable land, 11,821 dunums were for cereals,[13] while 40 dunams were classified as built-up, urban land.[14]

The village shared a school with the other two Sawafir villages, and it had an enrollment of about 280 in 1945. The village had its own mosque.

1948 War and aftermath[edit]

In early May, 1948, the inhabitants of the three Al-Sawafir villages were ordered not to flee, by the Al-Majdal National Committee.[15] At the 23 May, 1948, Israeli reports say that at all the three Al-Sawafir villages the inhabitants slept in the fields at night, but returned to work in the villages by day.[16]


  1. ^ a b Palmer, 1881, p. 274
  2. ^ a b Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 32
  3. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 46
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xix, village #285. Also gives the cause for depopulation, with a "?".
  5. ^ a b c d Khalidi, 1992, p. 135
  6. ^ Varga, 2009, Es-Sawafir esh-Sharqiya
  7. ^ Dauphin, 1998, p. 869
  8. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 142
  9. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 82 -84
  10. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 413
  11. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Gaza, p. 8
  12. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 6
  13. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 88
  14. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 138
  15. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 179
  16. ^ Morris, 2004, pp. 257-258


External links[edit]