Old structure from Bayt Daras, presently in Azrikam
|Name meaning||"The house of treading corn"|
|Also spelled||Beit Daras, Baydarās-Badarās, Dāris Bethduras|
|Date of depopulation||May 11, 1948|
|Cause(s) of depopulation||Military assault by Yishuv forces|
|Current localities||Giv'ati Emunim Azrikam|
Bayt Daras was an archaeological site that contained stone foundations and vaulted rooms. The Crusaders built a castle on the hill that overlooked the village. During the Mamluk rule in Palestine, (1205-1517), Bayt Daras formed part of a mail route from Cairo to Damascus. In this period, in 1325, a khan, or caravanserai, was built in the village.
In 1517, Bayt Daras was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire with the rest of Palestine, and in 1596 the village appeared in the Ottoman tax registers as being in the nahiya (subdistrict) of Gaza under the Liwa of Gaza, with a population of 319. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat and barley, as well as on goats, beehives and vineyards.
French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village in 1863, and found it to have 700 inhabitants. In the 1882 Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP), the village of Bayt Daras was described as being surrounded by gardens and olive groves, and it was bordered to the north by a pond.
British Mandate era
In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Bait Daras had a population of 1,670 inhabitants, all Muslims, increasing in the 1931 census of Palestine, to 1,804, still all Muslim, in 401 inhabited houses.
In 1945 Beit Daras had a population of 2,750, all Muslims, with 16,357 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, 832 dunams were allocated to citrus and banana plants, 472 plantations and irrigable land, 14,436 used for cereals, while 88 dunams were built-up land.
1948 War and aftermath
Bayt Daras was subject to military assault four times, and was defended by the Sudanese Army and a number of local militiamen and, according to Ramzy Baroud, subjected to heavy shelling on March 27–28, 1948, in which nine villagers died and much of the crops were destroyed. The objective of the Palmach's operational plan, 'Operation Lightning' (Mivtza Barak) 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. Bayt Daras was targeted to be surrounded, to have the villagers surrender and hand over their arms, and if this order was resisted, it was to be mortared, stormed and 'dealt with in the manner of scorched earth'. It was finally captured by military assault on May 11, 1948 by the Givati Brigade during Operation Barak, just prior to the outbreak of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The village suffered some 50 casualties, and many houses were then blown up, and wells and granaries sabotaged. Bayt Daras had a population of 3,190 living in 709 houses in 1948. In Baroud's account, a massacre took place as people fled the village.
Structures in the village were made of stone foundations with vaulted rooms. There were also two elementary schools and two mosques, all of which were demolished after its capture.
Following the war the area was incorporated into the State of Israel. In 1950 the moshav of Giv'ati was built on the site of the village, with two other moshavim, Azrikam, Emunim, established on land that had belonged to Bayt Daras. Later in the 1950s a farm called Zemorot was built on Khirbat Awda, which had also belonged to Bayt Daras.
A woman's thob (loose fitting robe with sleeves) dated to about 1930 from the village of Beit Daras is part of the Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) collection at Santa Fe. The dress fabric is called abu hizz ahmar (black cotton ground with purple, orange and green stipes of cotton and silk), from Majdal. The only embroidery on the front is below the neck opening. The back panel has three horizontal bands of embroidery, and a local version of the khem-el-basha ("the pashas tent") motif along the hem.
- List of Arab towns and villages depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
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