PLace

al-Burj

Place
al-Burj — البُرْج
District
Lydda
Average Elevation
275 m
Subdistrict
Ramla
Distance from Al Ramla
14 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1944/45 480 480
1931 370 370
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Public Total
1944/45 4705 3 4708
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable 2056 3 2059
Built-up 12 12
2068 3 2071 (44%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Total
Cereal 2631 2631
Plantation and Irrigable 6 6
2637 2637 (56%)
Number of Houses (1931)
92

The village was situated on a rocky spot in the western foothills of the Ramallah Mountains, overlooking the central coastal plain. It was linked by a network of narrow roads to the al-Ramla-Ramallah highway, which ran a relatively short distance to the southeast, and to the neighboring villages of Bayt Sira, Safa, and Barfiliya. The village may have been named al-Burj (an Arabization of the Greek pyrgos, 'tower') in reference to the Crusader castle, Castle Arnold, that had been built on the site in earlier times. The village was visited by Edward Robinson in 1838 , and when the authors of the Survey of Western Palestine saw it, later in the nineteenth century, al-Burj was a village situated on a hilltop that was surrounded on all sides by open fields. They also saw the remains of the Crusader fortress nearby.

Originally, al-Burj had a semi-circular layout, but it expanded southward during the Mandate. Some of its houses were built of adobe brick, while others were of stone. Its population was predominantly Muslim. The villagers underwrote the construction of an elementary school that was completed in 1947, and that had an initial enrollment of about thirty-five students. A water tank on the east side provided the village with drinking water. Animal husbandry and agriculture were the main occupations of the residents. They cultivated grain, fruit, vegetables, and olives. In 1944/45 a total of 2,631 dunums was allotted to cereals; 6 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.

Al-Burj village was the scene of a battle between Israeli forces and the Transjordanian Arab Legion during the Ten Days between the two truces of the war. The Israeli army occupied the village on 15 July 1948, during the second phase of Operation Dani (see Abu al-Fadl, al-Ramla District). It occupied Barfiliya, Salbit, and Bir Ma'in at the same time, according to a Reuters dispatch in the New York Times. The following day, the Arab Legion tried to regain control of the village with two infantry platoons and a column of ten armored cars, as related by the History of the War of Independence. That account reads:

The armored cars approached el Burj and our men let them advance towards the village's houses and then opened fire with anti-tank weapons. After a four-hour long battle, the enemy withdrew, taking some killed and wounded and leaving on the battlefield 4 armoured vehicles and a number of their dead. Meanwhile, our mortars and heavy machine-guns opened fire on the enemy infantry, but they withdrew before we could complete their encirclement.

Palestinian historian 'Arif al-'Arif states that the attempt to recapture al-Burj managed to block the advance of Israeli forces along this axis. Estimates of the number of casualties in the battle vary considerably. According to the Haganah, 30 Arabs were killed and 50 wounded, with 3 Jews killed and another 7 wounded. But al-'Arif states that 7 Arabs were killed and 6 were missing and presumed dead, while 3 were wounded.

The agricultural settlement of Kefar Rut (153146) is northeast of the site on village lands.

Only one crumbled house remains on the hilltop. Cactuses and wild plants grow on the site. The nearby settlement uses the village land for hothouse agriculture.