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Old mosque of Kawfakha, in 2000, presently used as a storehouse
Old mosque of Kawfakha, in 2000, presently used as a storehouse
Kawfakha is located in Mandatory Palestine
Coordinates: 31°28′42″N 34°39′42″E / 31.47833°N 34.66167°E / 31.47833; 34.66167Coordinates: 31°28′42″N 34°39′42″E / 31.47833°N 34.66167°E / 31.47833; 34.66167
Palestine grid117/098
Geopolitical entityMandatory Palestine
Date of depopulationMay 25, 1948[3]
 • Total8,569 dunams (8.569 km2 or 3.309 sq mi)
 • Total500[1][2]
Cause(s) of depopulationMilitary assault by Yishuv forces
Current LocalitiesNir Akiva[4]

Kawfakha' (Arabic: كوفخة‎) was a Palestinian village located 18 kilometers (11 mi) east of Gaza that was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.


The village stood on a stretch of sandy, rolling land in the northern Negev. A network of secondary roads linked it to the highways between Gaza and Julis, which ran parallel to the coastal highway.[5]


Ceramics from the Byzantine era have been found here.[6]

Ottoman era[edit]

In 1838, in the late Ottoman era, el-Kaufakhah was noted as a place "in ruins or deserted."[7]

In 1882, the PEF's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) noted at Khurbet el Kofkhah: "a large site. Rubble cisterns, a marble capital, with acanthus leaves. Scattered stones and pottery."[8]

Kawfakwa was founded in the late nineteenth century by Gaza city residents who came to cultivate the surrounding land. In its center was a mosque that was well known in the region, built in the reign of the Ottoman sultan Abd al-Hamid II (1876–1909).[5]

British mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Kufakha had a population of 203 Muslims,[9] increasing in the 1931 census to 317, still all Muslims, in 56 houses.[10]

The village had an elementary school and some small shops. The villagers obtained water for domestic use from two wells inside the village. The land on the northern side of the village was planted with fruit trees, such as apricots, olives, almonds, grapes and figs. On the other sides of the village grain was grown.[11]

Kaufakha 1931 1:20,000
Kaufakha 1945 1:250,000

In the 1945 statistics Kawfakha had a population of 500 Muslims,[1] with a total of 8,569 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey.[2] Of this, a total of 97 dunums was irrigated or used for orchards, and 7,768 dunums (of public land) were allotted to cereals,[12] while 41 dunams were built-up, public land.[13]

1948 and after[edit]

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the villagers of Kawfakha repeatedly asked to surrender, accept Jewish rule and be allowed to stay, all to no avail.[14] Kawfakha, together with al-Muharraqa, was raided by the Palmach's Negev Brigade on May 27–28, and the inhabitants of both villages were expelled or driven out.[15] On May 30, a New York Times correspondent reported that the two villages had been captured.[4]

Following the war the area was incorporated into the State of Israel and the moshav of Nir Akiva was established in 1953 on village lands, southwest of the village site.[4]

According to Khalidi, by 1992 the village remaining structures on the village land were:

"Only the mosque remains, and it is used as a storehouse for animal fodder and as a horse stable. It is a stone structure with arched entrances and windows on all sides; its roof is topped by three shallow domes. The site, which contains piles of rubble and is overgrown with cactuses and other desert plants, has been fenced in and serves as a pasture. There is a citrus grove west of it, and grain is grown by Israeli farmers on part of the surrounding land."[4]

The village mosque was inspected in 1994, and found to be built of ashlar stones (approximately 0.2m x 0.4 m) with the corners emphasised by a slight offset. At the north-west corner there was a thick square minaret 10–15 meters high with chamfered corners. There are three doorways on the north side, two of which lead into the prayer hall, whilst the east door leads into a separate room. At the time of the inspection, the mosque was used as a storehouse for a nearby farm ("Avi´s Ranch").[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 31
  2. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 46
  3. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xx, village #368. Also gives the cause of depopulation.
  4. ^ a b c d Khalidi, 1992, p. 120
  5. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, p. 119
  6. ^ Dauphin, 1998, p. 955
  7. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, Appendix 2, p. 119
  8. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 283. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 120
  9. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Gaza, p. 8
  10. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 4.
  11. ^ Khalidi, 1992, pp. 119-120
  12. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 87
  13. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 137
  14. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 258. Citing from Palmah and Israel State Archives.
  15. ^ Morris, 2004, p, 258
  16. ^ Petersen, 2001, pp. 195-6.


External links[edit]