PLace

Summil

Place
Summil — صُمِّيل
District
Gaza
Subdistrict
Gaza
Average Elevation
125 m
Distance from Gaza
36 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1931 692
1944/45 950
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Jewish Public Total
1944/45 16261 2620 423 19304
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable 83 1 415 499
Built-up 31
114 1 415 530 (3%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Cereal 16093 2619 8 18720
Plantation and Irrigable 54 54
16147 2619 8 18774 (97%)
Number of Houses (1931)
178

The village was situated on the coastal plain on a sandy hill surrounded by wadis. Secondary roads linked it to the highway between al-Majdal and Bayt Jibrin at the junction near the village of Iraq al-Manshiyya. Other roads and dirt paths also connected Summil to neighboring villages. It is believed that Summil was founded in 1168 during the Crusades by the Hospitalers for the purpose of protecting another castle built earlier in Bayt Jibrin. The inhabitants believed their village was named after Samuel, one of the Crusaders who established it. It was also called Barakat al-Khalil (the blessing of Abraham), because its tax revenues were used by the Mamluk sultan Barquq (d. 1399) to endow the mosque of Abraham in Hebron. In 1596, Summil was a village in the nahiya of Gaza (liwa' of Gaza), with a population of 363. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat, barley, and fruit, as well as on other types of produce such as goats and beehives.

When Edward Robinson passed by Summil in the mid-nineteenth century, he noted that it was 'a considerable village on an elevation in the plain.' He noticed a 'large public well' that was eleven feet in diameter and over one hundred feet deep. He said that there was 'a portion of an ancient wall apparently once belonging to a castle' in the village itself. In the late nineteenth century, the village of Summil had a semi-circular plan. During the Mandate, the village began to expand towards the southwest. It relied on al-Faluja, 6 km to the southwest, for commercial, medical, and administrative services. The villagers were Muslim; they maintained a mosque that had been built on the remnants of a Crusaders' church. Village houses were built of adobe bricks; the village school opened in 1936, and by the mid-1940s had a total enrollment of eighty-eight. The community obtained its domestic water from a 48-m-deep well named al-Khalil. Rainfed agriculture and sheep raising constituted the villagers' principal economic activities; grain, grapes, and figs were the chief crops. In 1944/45 a total of 16,093 dunums was allocated to cereals; 54 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.

Summil was captured in one of the Giv'ati Brigade's thrusts southwards during the period known as the 'Ten Days' (i.e., between the two truces of 8 and 18 July 1948). It is not known exactly when the village was occupied, but it probably fell in the early stages of the operation, between 9 and 14 July. 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 History of the War of Independence speaks of 'several clearing operations' in the area. Summil is one of the villages mentioned in this connection; its inhabitants were probably driven eastwards to the Hebron area.

Four settlements were established on what were traditionally village lands: Qedma, built in 1946, and Segula, Menucha, and Nachala, all built in 1953. Qedma is far to the north of the village site, but Nachala is close to it, towards the south. Segula and Menucha, to the west, are also nearby. Finally, Wardon, founded in 1968, is on land that belonged to Summil.

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 are also 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.