Qatra


Qatra

Infobox Former Arab villages in Palestine
name=Qatra


imgsize=
caption=
arname=قطرة
meaning=
altSp=
district=rl
population=1,210
popyear=1945
area=7,853
areakm=7.9
cause=M
curlocl=Gedera and Kidron
date=May, 1948

Qatra (Arabic: قطرة) is a destroyed Arab village in the former District of al-Ramla of the British Mandate of Palestine located 15km southwest of the city of Ramla and 50m above sea level. It is one kilometer south of the Wadi al-Sarar. At the end of the year 1945, Qatra had a population of 1,210 on 7,853 dunums, and in 1948 had a population of 1,401.

History

Qatra was founded upon the ruins of the Roman-built town of "Kidron" from which it received its modern name. 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".

1948

Qatra was captured by Israel's Giv'ati Brigade in May, 1948. The operation was according to Plan Dalet. Plan Dalets guidelines to the Giv'ati 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.´ [733: Ayalon, "War of Independence", 485. Quoted in Benny Morris (2004): "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited", p. 254] During May -early June Avidan moved to expand his area of control westwards and southwards. [Morris (2004), p. 254]

It was during these operations that they encountered the village of Qatra. The village offered no resistance. The Giv'ati 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 Giv'ati demanded the name of the killer, and the handover of any foreign irregulars and additional weapons. [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, p. 255.] The Haganah reoccupied the village and its entire population were either intimidated into flight or expelled on 17 May. [745: HIS-AD, ´The Migratory Movement....´, 30 June 1948, HHA-ACP, 10.95.13 (1). Quoted in Morris (2004), p. 255.] The IDF trucked about 200 refugees from Qatra inland, towards Ramleh, in the following period. [Morris (2004), p. 529]

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. [746: ´Doron`to HIS, ´Assessment of Operation Helem´, 7 May 1948, HA 105∖92aleph. Quoted in Morris (2004), p. 255.] The Giv'ati 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"] ´. [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.]

Morris gives [Morris (2004), p. XIX] as cause for abandonment of Qatra: M/E (M=Military assault on settlement, E=Expulsion by Jewish forces)

In 1949 the Israeli moshav of Kidron was established on Qatra's land [Morris (2004), p. XXI]

The current Israeli towns built on Qatra's land are Gedera and Kidron, though it should be noted that Gedera existed beside Qatra from 1884 until 1948, and that only after Qatra was abandoned did Gedera expand to cover Qatra.

References

See also

* List of villages depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war


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