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The largest remaining house in Khulda
The largest remaining house in Khulda
Etymology: "the perpetual"[1][2]
Khulda is located in Mandatory Palestine
Coordinates: 31°49′10″N 34°54′14″E / 31.81944°N 34.90389°E / 31.81944; 34.90389Coordinates: 31°49′10″N 34°54′14″E / 31.81944°N 34.90389°E / 31.81944; 34.90389
Palestine grid141/136
Geopolitical entityMandatory Palestine
Date of depopulationApril 6, 1948[5]
 • Total9,461 dunams (9.461 km2 or 3.653 sq mi)
 • Total280[3][4]
Cause(s) of depopulationMilitary assault by Yishuv forces
Current LocalitiesMishmar David[6]

Khulda (Arabic: خُلدة‎), also Khuldeh, was a Palestinian Arab village located 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) south of Ramla in the Mandatory Palestine. Known as Huldre to the Crusaders, it is also mentioned in documents dating to the periods of Mamluk, Ottoman, and Mandatory rule over Palestine. During the 1948 war, the village was depopulated as part of Operation Nachshon and was subsequently destroyed. The Israeli kibbutz of Mishmar David was established that same year on land belonging to the village.


Khulda lay close to a highway connecting Gaza to the Ramla-Jerusalem highway.[7] During the Crusades, the village was known as Huldre. Situated 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) west-south-west of Imwas, prior to the 12th century CE, it lay on the border between the Greek archbishopric of Lydda and the ecclesiastical division of Emmaus, the latter of which was governed directly by archpriest of the Patriarch of Jerusalem.[8]

During the period of Mamluk rule over Palestine, Mujir al-Din al-'Ulaymi narrates how the under-Governor of Ramleh in 1495 had to take refuge against marauding Bedouin in a small fort which then existed at Khulda.[9][10]

Ottoman era[edit]

Khulda, like the rest of Palestine, was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 and in 1596, it formed part of the nahiya ("subdistrict") of Ramla, in the liwa of Gaza. It had a population of 12 households, an estimated sixty-six persons, all Muslim. They paid a fixed tax rate of 25% on agricultural products, including wheat, barley, beehives, and goats, in addition to occasional revenues; a total of 4,500 akçe.[11]

When Edward Robinson passed by in 1838, he described Khulda as "a large village" on a hill.[12] It was also noted as a Muslim village in the southern area in the District of Er-Ramleh.[13]

In 1863 Victor Guérin noted a village with two hundred and fifty inhabitants, situated on a plateau.[14]

An official village list of about 1870 showed that the village had 28 houses and a population of 76, though the population count included only men.[15][16] Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau visited Khulda in 1871, and was told by the inhabitants that the village used to be surrounded by a fortified wall, two gates of which were still supposed to be in situ. Clermont-Ganneau noted that this agreed well with what Mujir al-Din had written about the place.[17]

In 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described Khulda as a large village, built of stone and mud, situated on a hill. The village had a masonry well to the east.[18]

British Mandate era[edit]

Khulda 1948
Members of Palmach posing amongst the ruins. Khulda April 1948

During British rule over Mandate Palestine, ten labourers from Khulda worked gratis for the Jewish National Fund on the Khulde drainage project, most of which took place on the Arab village's lands.[19] The project, like others of its kind was essential to Jewish settlement in Palestine, as malaria had impeded permanent settlement at Jewish Khulde in 1921.[20]

In the 1922 census of Palestine, Khulda had a population of 53 inhabitants, all Muslims,[21] increasing in the 1931 census to 178, still all Muslims, in 29 inhabited houses.[22]

The villagers maintained a mosque and there were two water wells for domestic use.[7] Villagers in Khulda were engaged in the rearing of animal livestock. The Lydda District had one of the largest animal markets in Palestine, alongside that of the Nazareth District; however, starvation was a common affliction among the herds in the former in the 20th century, and the herd at Khulda was described as 'a typical specimen of extreme debility'.[23]

In the 1945 statistics, the population had grown to 280 Muslims,[3] with a total of 9,461 dunams of land.[4] Of this, a total of 8,994 dunums were used for cereals, 9 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards,[24] while 8 dunams were classified as built-up public areas.[25]

1948 and aftermath[edit]

Ruins in Khulda

Prior to the outbreak of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Khulda was conquered by Jewish forces on April 6, 1948 during Operation Nachshon.[26] On April 20, 1948 it was leveled by bulldozers.[26]

Kibbutz Mishmar David was established in 1948, about 0.5 km (0.31 mi) west of the village site, on village land. Tal Shachar is nearby, about 2 km (1.2 mi) south of the village site, but it is not on village land.[7]

Andrew Petersen, an archaeologist specializing in Islamic architecture visited Khulda in 1993, and notes that the remains of at least four stone buildings can be seen, although only two of them are standing. The first of these is a rectangular structure (12 m (39 ft) x 6.5 m (21 ft)) with two separate rooms, each with its own entrance. Each door is flanked with two large windows. Both doors and windows are covered with lintels, above which is a relieving arch. An inscription above one of the doors have been removed. The roof is made with iron girders, with reinforced concrete, while the walls are dressed limestone. According to Petersen, the building must have served some public purpose, and it probably dates from the final years of the Ottoman rule, or the early British Mandate of Palestine period.[27]

The second building stands north of first one, and is about half in size (6 m x 6 m). The roof is made in the same manner as the first house. The walls are made of boulders and rubble stone, joined together with mud mortar. A shallow niche in the south wall might be a mihrab. The walls are decorated with stencilled friezes of palm tree and palmettes in blue-green. A barely legible inscription above the door gives a 14th-century AH (late 19th-century CE) date.[27]


  1. ^ Conder, 2009, p. 268.
  2. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 268
  3. ^ a b Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 29
  4. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 67
  5. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xix, village #261. Also gives cause of depopulation.
  6. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xxi, settlement #37
  7. ^ a b c Khalidi, 1992, p. 389
  8. ^ Pringle, 1993, p. 53
  9. ^ Mujir al-Din, 1866, p.702 (Arabic text, published by Bulak, Cairo), cited in Clermont-Ganneau, 1896, II, p.251 -252
  10. ^ Moudjir ed-dyn, 1876, (French text) p.294
  11. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 153. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 389
  12. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, p. 21
  13. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, Appendix 2, p. 120
  14. ^ Guérin, 1869, p. 32
  15. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 151
  16. ^ Hartmann, 1883, p. 140 also noted 28 houses
  17. ^ Clermont-Ganneau, 1896, II, p.467
  18. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p.408. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 389
  19. ^ Sufian, 2007, p.324. N.B. In this text, Khulda is referred to as Khuldeh el-Islam, presumably to distinguish it from the newly created nearby Jewish settlement which was also named Khulde.
  20. ^ Sufian, 2007, p. 103
  21. ^ Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Ramleh, p. 21
  22. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 21
  23. ^ El-Eini, 2006, p. 398.
  24. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 116
  25. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 166
  26. ^ a b Morris, 2004, p. 235
  27. ^ a b Petersen, 2001, p. 200


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