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Summil is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic صميل
Name meaning "Hard and withered"[1]
Also spelled Summeil[2]
Subdistrict Gaza
Coordinates 31°39′56″N 34°47′43″E / 31.66556°N 34.79528°E / 31.66556; 34.79528Coordinates: 31°39′56″N 34°47′43″E / 31.66556°N 34.79528°E / 31.66556; 34.79528
Palestine grid 130/119
Population 950[3][4] (1945)
Area 19,304[4] dunams
19.3 km²
Date of depopulation mid-July, 1948[5]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Kedma,[6] Sgula,[6] Menuha,[6] Nahala,[6] Vardon[6]

Summil (Arabic: صميل‎) was a Palestinian Arab village in the Gaza Subdistrict, located 36 kilometers (22 mi) northeast of Gaza. It was situated on a sandy hill in the coastal plain and had a population of 950 in 1945. It was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.[6]


A marble bust of Pan, dating from the 1st or 2nd century CE, has been found here.[7]

Summil was founded in 1168 during the Crusades by the Hospitallers for the purpose of protecting the fortress in Bayt Jibrin. Local tradition claims it was named after Samuel, one of the Crusaders who established the village. Under Mamluk rule in the 13th-15th centuries, it was referred to as Barakat al-Khalil ("the blessing of Abraham"), because its tax revenues were used by the sultan Barquq to endow the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.[6][8]

Ottoman period[edit]

Summil was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 with all of Palestine, and in the 1596 tax records it was part of nahiya (subdistrict) of Gaza under the Gaza Sanjak, with a population of 66 Muslim household, an estimated 363 persons. The villagers paid a fixed tax rate of 33,3% on wheat, barley, fruit, beehives, and goats; a total of 14,500 akçe. All of the revenue went to a Waqf.[9]

When Edward Robinson visited Summil in the 1838, he noted that it was a "considerable village on an elevation of the plain." He noticed a public well over 100 feet (30 m) deep and 11 feet (3.4 m) in diameter. He said that there was a "portion of an ancient wall apparently once belonging to a castle."[10]

In 1863, French explorer Victor Guérin found the village, which he called Soummeil el-Khalil, to have 400 inhabitants. Some of the houses were built of stone, other of adobe. He further noted a waly, dedicated to a Sheikh Abdallah, which was a well built enclosure built of large stones.[11] An Ottoman village list of about 1870 indicated 50 houses and a population of 133, though the population count included men, only.[12][13]

In 1882 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Summeil as "a small village on the edge of the higher ground, of mud and stone, with cactus hedges. A pond on the south and a well on the north supply the place. Near the latter there is a pointed archway of good masonry, apparently mediæval work, and there are foundations of hewn stones in the village. [The well] Bir Summeil is south of the village, is also a well-built masonry well, and the place evidently dates back to Crusading times at least."[14][15] In the late 19th century, Summil had a semi-circular plan.[6]

British Mandate of Palestine period[edit]

During the British Mandate period, the village expanded toward the southwest and relied on al-Faluja for commercial, medical, and administrative services.[6]

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Summail had a population of 561 inhabitants, all Muslims,[16] increasing in the 1931 census, to 692, still all Muslims, in 178 houses.[17]

In the 1945 statistics the population of Summeil consisted of 950 Muslims[3] and the total land area was 19,304 dunams, according to an official land and population survey.[4] Of this, a total of 54 dunams were used plantations and irrigable land, 18,720 for cereals,[18] while 31 dunams were built-up areas.[19]

A mosque built on the remnants of a Crusader church was maintained by the Muslim inhabitants. Village houses were built of adobe brick and a school opened in 1936. By the mid-1940s it had an enrollment of 88 students. The community obtained domestic water from a 48 meters (157 ft) deep well named "al-Khalil".[6]

1948, and aftermath[edit]

Summil was occupied by the Givati Brigade's thrust southward during the period in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War known as the Ten Days between the truces of July 8 and July 18, 1948. During this offensive, Israeli forces managed to occupy a broad swath of territory south of the Jerusalem-Ramla road, displacing over 20,000 people. Although Israeli military accounts later claimed that the inhabitants fled with the approach of Israeli columns, the Haganah spoke of "several cleaning operations" with Summil being one of the villages mentioned. Its inhabitants fled east toward the Hebron area.[6]

On July 19, 1948, an IDF patrol clashed with armed infiltrators at Summil, killing one and wounding another. The patrol warned any refugees they encountered that if any one of them entered "the areas under our control-they would be killed".[20] The day after, on the July 20, the IDF were formally instructed to prevent infiltration to Summil, Barqusya, Bi´lin, Masmiya al Saghira, al-Tina, Kheima, Idnibba, Jilya, Qazaza, and Mughallis. The orders specifically were to "destroy" any "armed force" encountered, and to "expel...unarmed villagers".[21]

The Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi described the village remains in 1992 as: "The remnants of a wall, perhaps one that was built around the village, are still visible. Otherwise, much of the site is overgrown with khubbayza (a wild plant belonging to the mallow family that is cooked as a vegetable in Palestinian peasant cuisine) and grass. There is also a Christ's-thorn trees and dense stands of cactuses; an old cactus-lined village road is visible. A shanty that houses an Arab family (whose members probably work in one of the Israeli settlements) has been built on the land. The adjacent land is cultivated by Israeli farmers."[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 379
  2. ^ Spelling given in Morris, 2004
  3. ^ a b Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 32
  4. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 46
  5. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xix, village #298. Also gives cause for depopulation
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Khalidi, 1992, p. 137.
  7. ^ Iliffe, 1934, pp. 165–166
  8. ^ Pringle, 1997, p. 97
  9. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 151. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 137
  10. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 2, p. 368, also quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 137
  11. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 121-122
  12. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 161
  13. ^ Hartmann, 1883, p. 133 noted 49 houses
  14. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 413
  15. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 260
  16. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Gaza, p. 9
  17. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 6
  18. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 88
  19. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 138
  20. ^ 51st Battalion\Intelligence to Givati HQ\Intelligence, 19 July 1948, IDFA 1041\49\\12. Cited in Morris, 2004, pp. 443, 459
  21. ^ OC 51st Battalion to "C" Company, etc., 20 July 1948, IDFA 922\75\\899. Cited in Morris, 2004, pp. 443, 459
  22. ^ Khalidi, 1992, pp. 137-8


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