Iraq Suwaydan

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Iraq Suwaydan
Iraq-suidan.jpg
British police fort in Iraq Suwadan
Iraq Suwaydan is located in Mandatory Palestine
Iraq Suwaydan
Iraq Suwaydan
Arabic عراق سويدان
Name meaning "The cavern of Suweidan"[1]
Also spelled Iraq al-Suweidan
Subdistrict Gaza
Coordinates 31°38′54.86″N 34°41′19.09″E / 31.6485722°N 34.6886361°E / 31.6485722; 34.6886361Coordinates: 31°38′54.86″N 34°41′19.09″E / 31.6485722°N 34.6886361°E / 31.6485722; 34.6886361
Palestine grid 121/117
Population 660[2] (1945)
Area 7,529[2] dunams
7.5 km²
Date of depopulation July 8, 1948[3]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Yad Natan, Otzem, Sde Yoav

Iraq Suwaydan (Arabic: عراق سويدان‎, Hebrew: עיראק סווידאן) was a Palestinian Arab village located 27 kilometers northeast of Gaza City. It was captured by Israeli forces in Operation Yoav against the defending Egyptian Army during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The village infrastructure, with the exception of the police station built by the British Mandate authorities, was destroyed.

History[edit]

Archeological excavations have found remains from the early Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods.[4]

In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described it as a moderate-sized village situated on a plain.[5]

British Mandata era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, ‘Eraq el-Suaiden had a population of 349, all Muslims,[6] increasing in the 1931 census to 440, still all Muslims, in 81 houses.[7]

In 1942, the villagers established an elementary school and in 1947 shared its facilities with the children of the neighboring villages, Ibdis and Bayt 'Affa. There were 104 students in the mid-1940s.[8] The main crop was grain, with some almond trees and grapes.[8]

In 1945 ‘Iraq Suweidan had a population of 660, all Arabs, with a total of 7,529 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey.[9] Of this, 9 dunams were used for plantations and irrigable land, 7,329 for cereals,[10] while 35 dunams were built-up land.[11]

1948 and aftermath[edit]

Palmach troops in Egyptian trenches at Iraq Suwaydan
Police fort bombing, 9 November 1948

On May 12, 1948, the British authorities withdrew, handing over the police fort to the Egyptian army, which then garrisoned it.[12] The fort controlled the road between al-Majdal and Bayt Jibrin as well as the main road to the Negev. The village was captured and destroyed during Operation Yoav. Eight Israeli attempts to capture the fort failed. It finally fell on 9 November 1948 after a massive bombardment including air strikes by B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft.[8]

In 1953, Yad Natan was founded east of Iraq Suwaydan on village lands. In 1955, Otzem was established on village lands to the southeast and in 1956, Sde Yoav was established west of the site, close to village land.[8] In 1992, remains of houses could be seen in a eucalyptus grove that the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi identified as the center of the village, along with cacti and remnants of a pool. Two roads, one passing through the village and the other leading to fields, were recognizable. The British police station, renamed Metzudat Yo'av, was still in use and the surrounding lands were cultivated by Israeli farmers.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 365
  2. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 45
  3. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xx, village #380. Also gives the cause for depopulation
  4. ^ Seriy, 2007, ‘Iraq Suweidan
  5. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 259. Cited in Khalidi, 1992, p.108
  6. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Gaza, p. 9
  7. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 4.
  8. ^ a b c d e Khalidi, 1992, p.109
  9. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 45
  10. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 87
  11. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 137
  12. ^ David Tal War in Palestine, 1948: Israeli and Arab Strategy and Diplomacy, Routledge 2004 p.177.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]