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The District of Gaza
H. BAYT TIMA

Saturday 30 September 2006, by Profesor: Walid Khalidi




Location:

- PGR: 115114
- Distance from Gaza (km): 21

-  Average elevation (meters): 75

-  Land ownership and use in 1944/45 (dunums):

Ownership Use Cultivation
Arab 10753 10641
Jewish 0 0
Public 279 60
Total 11032 10701

Population:

1931: 762

1944/45: 1060

-  Number of houses (1931): 157

BAYT TIMA before 1948

The village was built on flat terrain on the southern coastal plain in a region rich with archaeological artifacts, including some from the Crusades. A secondary road linked it to the coastal highway a short distance to the west, affording it access to Gaza and the city of Al-Majdal. In 1596, Bayt Tima was a village in the nahiya of Gaza (liwa’ of Gaza), with a population of 693. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat, barley, fruit, almonds, and sesame, as well as on other types of produce, such as goats and beehives. [Hut. And Abd.: 142]

In the late nineteenth century, Bayt Tima was a village of moderate size with two pools and shrines, and two small patches of garden nearby. [SWP (1881) III:259] During the Mandate, the village had its own shops and a mosque, and shared an elementary school, built in 1946, with the neighboring villages of Kawkaba and Hulayqat. Its mud houses were grouped together in blocks, separated by streets or open space; the largest block was at the center of the village. Most of the residents of Bayt Tima were Muslims. They worked mainly in rainfed agriculture, cultivating grain, vegetables, and fruits, especially figs, apricots, and almonds. In 1944/45 a total of 10444 dunums was allotted to cereals; 197 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. In the cemetery south of the village a badly worn tessellated (mosaic) pavement was found that suggests a Roman or Byzantine presence. One could also see evidence in the village mosque that architectural elements from earlier times had been reused.

Occupation and Depopulation

A Zionist attempt to infiltrate Bayt Tima was recorded as early as 9 February 1948, according to the Jaffa-based Palestinian daily Filastin. That attempt was driven back by a hall of bullets from the village’s defenders which went on for half an hour.

An aerial and artillery bombardment in mid-October 1948 led to the flight of a large number of refugees from Bayt Tima, according to Israeli historian Benny Morris. The village was occupied on 18-19 October, in the early stages of Operation Yo’av (see Barbara, Gaza District). The New York Times quoted an Israeli army communique on 20 October which said that Bayt Tima had fallen along with Kawkaba and Huayqat. It was probably captured by the Giv’ati Brigade. [M:xvii, 220;NYT:21/10/48; T:304, 308]

Israeli sources had told the Associated Press that they had occupied Bayt Tima at the beginning of June. They claimed they captured it while “slashing behind an Egyptian coastal spearhead” on 1 June. But the occupation was apparently short-lived, since Israeli forces also threatened Bayt Tima a month later, according to Egyptian writer Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Mun’im. He writes that at the end of the first truce, in early July, the village was held by Palestinian militiamen. Israeli forces encroached on the village, occupying the hills overlooking the village, and its defenders were reinforced by a Saudi Company fighting on the southern front. It remained in Arab hands throughout the second truce. [A:461-62; F:11/2/48; NYT:2/6/48]

Israeli Settlements on Village Lands

There are no Israeli settlements on village land.

The Village Today

Sycamore and carob trees grow around the rubble on the site. The land is used for agriculture.




Profesor: Walid Khalidi



 

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