PLace

al-Batani al-Gharbi

Place
al-Batani al-Gharbi — البَطَانِي الغَرْبِي
District
Gaza
Subdistrict
Gaza
Average Elevation
25 m
Distance from Gaza
36 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1931 667 667
1944/45 980 980
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Public Total
1944/45 4475 99 4574
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable 24 99 123
Built-up 34 34
58 99 157 (3%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Total
Cereal 4152 4152
Plantation and Irrigable 95 95
Citrus and Bananas 170 170
4417 4417 (97%)
Number of Houses (1931)
147

The village stood on flat terrain on the southern coastal plain. It was one of two villages named al-Batani. Its twin, al-Batani al-Sharqi, lay to the east. The names of the two villages identified one as 'eastern' (sharqi) and the other as 'western' (gharbi). A military airport was built during the Mandate on flat land about 2 km south of the village. Secondary roads linked al-Batani al-Gharbi to adjacent villages, including Yasur and Isdud on the coastal highway. The earliest available reference to al-Batani indicates that it was originally founded as a 'ranch' for the first Umayyad caliph, Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan (A.D. 661–680)

In the late nineteenth century, the village of al-Batani al-Gharbi was situated on low ground and had a rectangular shape, extending along a southeast–northwest line. Construction initially expanded along the two short sides of the rectangle, then along the roads to other villages. The village houses, made of adobe brick with wood and cane roofs, were built close together, separated by narrow alleys. Along with a pond and a few wells, scattered patches of garden could be seen on the village lands. The two al-Batanis shared an elementary school that was opened in 1947 with an initial enrollment of 119 students. The population was Muslim, and the village had its own mosque as well as a number of small shops. The villagers worked mainly in agriculture, cultivating, among other crops, grain and citrus. In 1944/45 a total of 170 dunums was devoted to citrus and bananas and 4,152 dunums were allotted to cereals; 95 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. Agriculture was both rainfed and irrigated from wells that were scattered across the landscape. These wells also supplied water for domestic use. In addition to crop cultivation, the community engaged in animal husbandry and poultry raising.

Al-Batani al-Gharbi was one of four villages occupied on 18 May 1948 during the second stage of Operation Barak. It was occupied a few days after the fall of al-Batani al-Sharqi. Israeli historian Benny Morris states that 'most of the inhabitants of these villages had fled either before or during the attack; a few were probably expelled.'

There are no Israeli settlements on village land. The settlement of Azriqam, established in 1950, is close to the village site, to the south, on the land of Bayt Daras.

Cactuses and fig and sycamore trees grow on the site, and some of the village streets are still clearly recognizable. The adjacent land is partially cultivated by the nearby kibbutz. A stone quarry is also located on village lands.