Qatra

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Qatra
Qatra is located in Mandatory Palestine
Qatra
Qatra
Arabic قطرة
Name meaning drop[1]
Subdistrict Ramle
Coordinates 31°49′22.57″N 34°46′39.88″E / 31.8229361°N 34.7777444°E / 31.8229361; 34.7777444Coordinates: 31°49′22.57″N 34°46′39.88″E / 31.8229361°N 34.7777444°E / 31.8229361; 34.7777444
Palestine grid 129/136
Population 1,210 (1945)
Area 7,853 dunams
7.9 km²
Date of depopulation May 1948[2]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Secondary cause Expulsion by Yishuv forces
Current localities Gedera and Kidron

Qatra (Arabic: قطرة‎) was a Palestinian Arab village in the Ramle Subdistrict, located 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) southwest of the city of Ramla and 40 kilometers (25 mi) west of Jerusalem, some 50 meters (160 ft) above sea level.[3] It was depopulated in May 1948.

History[edit]

Qatra was a Canaanite center of political and economic authority that along with 30 other urban sites in regions bordering the Mediterranean sea, entered a period of decline in the Late Bronze Age between 1250 and 1150 BCE. [4] Qatra is also tentatively identified with the Hellenistic city of Kidron (Cidron, Gedrus) mentioned in the first Book of the Maccabees, and it has been postulated that its name derives from the Hebrew name for Kidron, Qiṭrôn.[3]

Ottoman era[edit]

In 1596, Qatra was part of the Ottoman Empire, nahiya (subdistrict) of Gaza under the liwa' (district) of Gaza with a population of 336. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat, barley, sesame, and fruit, as well as goats and beehives.[5]

Edward Robinson visited the village in 1852 and described it as being of considerable size.[6]

In 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described the village as being built of adobe brick and surrounded by gardens.[7]

British Mandate era[edit]

In a census conducted in 1922 by the British Mandate authorities, Qatra Islam had a population of 640; 1 Christian and the rest Muslims,[8] increasing in the 1931 census to 822, all Muslims, in a total of 175 houses.[9]

During its existence as a village in the British Mandate of Palestine it was referred to as Qatrat Islam to distinguish it from the Jewish settlement of Qatrat Yahud or Gedera, as it is called in Hebrew, established in the late 19th century.[10]

In 1945 the population was 1,290, all Arabs, while the total land area was 7,853 dunams, according to an official land and population survey.[11] Of this, Arabs used 291 dunams for citrus and bananas, 215 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards, 4,320 dunums were allocated to cereals,[12] while 26 dunams were classified as built-up urban areas.[13]

1948, and aftermath[edit]

Qatra was captured by Israel's Givati Brigade in May 1948. The operation was according to Plan Dalet. Plan Dalets guidelines to the Givati Brigade gave its leader, Lt. Col. Shimon Avidan, wide discretion. In order to "stabilise" his lines, the plan stated that ´you will determine alone, in consultations with your Arab affairs advisers and Intelligence Service officers, [which] villages in your zone should be occupied, cleansed or destroyed.´[14] During May to early June, Avidan moved to expand his area of control westwards and southwards as part of Operation Barak.[15]

It was during these operations that they encountered the village of Qatra. The village offered no resistance. The Givati troops entered and conducted an arms collection operation on 5-6 May. About 60 weapons were handed over - but a Jewish officer was shot and killed (either by an Arab or by friendly fire while searching (or looting) one of the houses. Three Arabs were then taken hostage and Givati demanded the name of the killer, and the handover of any foreign irregulars and additional weapons.[16] The Haganah reoccupied the village and its entire population were either intimidated into flight or expelled on 17 May.[17] The IDF trucked about 200 refugees staying in Majdal, originally from Qatra, towards Ramla in the summer of 1950.[18]

The operation in Qatra (and a similar operation in the nearby village of Aqir) was characterised by looting and brutal behaviour. The HIS officer who accompanied the troops later highlighted several problems, including the lack of clear orders regarding behaviour, the absence of POW camp for detainees, and looting.[19] The Givati Brigade's official history states that after these operations, the brigade HQ acted to ´curtail the instinct to loot and maltreat prisoners [hit´alelut beshvuyim]´.[20]

In 1949, the Israeli moshav of Kidron was established on Qatra's land.[21] The current Israeli towns built on Qatra's land are Gedera and Kidron.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 268
  2. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xix, village #258. Also gives cause of depopulation.
  3. ^ a b Bromiley, 1994, pp. 5-6.
  4. ^ Zevit, 2003, p. 94.
  5. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 145. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 404
  6. ^ Robinson, 1856, p.143. Cited in Khalidi, 1992, p. 404
  7. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 410. Cited in Khalidi, 1992, p. 404
  8. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Gaza, p. 9
  9. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 5.
  10. ^ Khalidi, 1992, p. 404
  11. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 68
  12. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 116.
  13. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 166
  14. ^ 733: Ayalon, War of Independence, 485. Quoted in Morris, 2004 p. 254
  15. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 254
  16. ^ 744: ´Doron`to HIS, ´The village of Qatra´, 9 May 1948, HA 105∖92aleph; and ´Doron (Elitzur)´to HIS-AD, ´The Conquest of Qatra´, 12 May 1948, HA 105∖92aleph. Quoted in Morris, 2004, p. 255.
  17. ^ 745: HIS-AD, ´The Migratory Movement....´, 30 June 1948, HHA-ACP, 10.95.13 (1). Quoted in Morris, 2004, p. 255.
  18. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 529
  19. ^ 746: ´Doron`to HIS, ´Assessment of Operation Helem´, 7 May 1948, HA 105∖92aleph. Quoted in Morris, 2004, p. 255.
  20. ^ 747: Ayalon, War of Independence, 526. It would appear that one or more of those who had died in Aqir had been murdered. Quoted in Morris, 2004, p. 255.
  21. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xxi

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]