PLace

Sarafand al-Kharab

Place
Sarafand al-Kharab — صَرَفَنْد الخَراب
Known also as: Sarafand al-Sughra
District
Lydda
Subdistrict
Ramla
Average Elevation
50 m
Distance from Al Ramla
7 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1931 971 974
1944/45 1040 1040
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Jewish Public Total
1944/45 3545 1611 347 5503
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable 47 320 305 672
Built-up 33 33
80 320 305 705 (13%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Cereal 268 189 42 499
Plantation and Irrigable 49 15 64
Citrus and Bananas 3148 1087 4235
3465 1291 42 4798 (87%)
Number of Houses (1931)
206

The village stood on a flat spot in the middle of the coastal plain. It was linked by a spur to a highway to the west that intersected with a highway between Ramla and Jaffa. It was also known as Sarafand al-Sughra ('the smaller Sarafand'), to distinguish it from its larger sister village, Sarafand al-Kubra ('the larger Sarafand'), 5 km to the northeast. Sarafand al-Sughra has been identified with an unnamed Crusader locality, based on the evidence of architectural remnants (vaults) in the village. It was probably inhabited in the sixteenth century; the fact that Ottoman records list a 'Sarafand al-Kubra' suggests that this village's smaller counterpart, Sarafand al-Sughra, also existed in 1596. The Egyptian Sufi traveler Mustafa al-Dumyati (d. 1764) reported visiting the shrine of Luqman in Sarafand (see Sarafand al-'Amar). The village may have acquired the name Sarafand al-Kharab ('Sarafand of the ruins') in the early nineteenth century. When Edward Robinson passed by the area in 1838, he reported that there were two villages with the name of Sarafand, one of which was inhabited and the other ruined. The latter was probably Sarafand al-Kharab. The village was repopulated during the late nineteenth century, as is indicated by the maps of the Survey of Western Palestine .

During the late 1920s Sarafand al-Kharab was briefly reduced to ruins once again, after British forces burned it. This was in retaliation for the killing of British soldiers who had entered the village drunk, violating the sensibilities of the inhabitants and, apparently, committing some offense that enraged the villagers. Many of them were displaced by this incident, and some of them settled, at least temporarily, in adjacent villages. After some time, however, the village recovered and was rebuilt. Its houses were built in rows, attached to each other, and were made of mud and straw or cement. There were 110 Christians among the 1,040 villagers; the rest were Muslims.

In 1920 the villagers built their own school; it became a full elementary school with 258 students in the mid-1940s and was attended by students from the neighboring villages of Wadi Hunayn, Bir Salim, and al-Nabi Rubin. The number of students from Wadi Hunayn alone amounted to about one-fourth of the schools' total enrollment. A girls' school was also established in 1945 and had 46 students in that year.

Sarafand al-Kharab's economy was primarily agricultural. The villagers irrigated their crops from the many artesian wells they had drilled. Fertile soil and the availability of irrigation water made possible the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, which yielded handsome revenues. Citrus fruits constituted the principal crop; in 1944/45 a total of 3,148 dunums was devoted to citrus and bananas and 268 dunums were allocated to cereals; 49 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.

Israeli historian Benny Morris indicates that the villagers, fearing a Jewish attack, fled on 20 April 1948. A week before that, on 12 April, a New York Times story quoted 'Jewish sources' as saying that one of their units had struck deep into Arab territory and had blown up twelve houses on the outskirts of Ramla and two neighboring villages. One of those villages may have been Sarafand al-Kharab. An additional factor that prompted the villagers to leave was the Giv'ati Brigade's Operation Nachshon (see Bayt Naqquba, Jerusalem sub-disctrict), which led to the massacre of Deir Yasin (Jerusalem sub-disctrict) on 9 April. But the village may not have come under Israeli occupation until mid-May (around the same time as its sister village of Sarafand al-'Amar and neighboring Bir Salim were occupied).

Zionists established the settlement of Nes Tziyyona (130148) in 1882; it is now a large town, and many of its buildings are on the village land of Sarafand al-Kharab. Yad Eli'ezer (131149), established in the early 1950s, is on village land but is no longer a separate, distinct locality. It was named after Eliezer Margolin, a commander of the British army's Jewish Legion during World War I who, disobeying orders, allowed his troops to use British weapons from the military base in Sarafand al-'Amar against Palestinian nationalists in 1921. The settlement of Beyt Chanan (128149), to the west of the site, was established in 1948; although close by, it is not on village lands.

A major part of the village has been destroyed. Many houses, however, remain; no more than six of them, including the house of Muhammad Darwish, are occupied by Israeli families. Most of them have gable roofs and rectangular doors and windows. One house is comprised of two-story and has a slanted roof. The school is used by Israeli students. A pond and a pump house in the orchard of Mahmud Yusuf Darwish are still undamaged. Castor oil (ricinus) plants and mulberry trees grow on the site. The cemetery is overgrown with cactus plants. The surrounding lands are cultivated by Israelis.