PLace

Khirbat al-Wa'ra al-Sawda'

Place
Khirbat al-Wa'ra al-Sawda' — خِرْبَة الوَعْرَة السَوْداء
District
Galilee
Average Elevation
25 m
Subdistrict
Tiberias
Distance from Tiberias
7.5 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1944/45 1870 1870
1931 * 1060 1060
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Public Total
1944/45 * 7036 7036
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total) *
Use Arab Total
Non-Cultivable * 4999 4999
Built-up ** 10 10
5009 5009 (71%)
Cultivable (Total) **
Use Arab Total
Cereal * 2027 2027
2027 2027 (29%)
Number of Houses (1931)
190
*

The village stood on a small plateau of volcanic rock, overlooking Wadi al-Hamam and Lake Tiberias. Classified by the Palestine Index Gazetteer as a hamlet, it was linked by a secondary road to a highway that ran along the lake shore to Tiberias. A dirt road linked it to the village of Hittin in the southwest. The village houses were grouped in an irregular pattern around the intersection of these two roads. The villagers belonged mainly to the 'Arab al-Mawasi clan, but some families were of the 'Arab Wuhayb. Their stone houses were surrounded by the tents of the Bedouin who had not constructed permanent housing. All of the villagers were Muslim. Two shrines that were dedicated to local shaykhs-'Umar and Musa al-Qadhim-were located in a khirba on the northern outskirts of the village. Villagers performed religious ceremonies at the latter shrine. Agriculture was the mainstay of the village economy; olive trees were planted in the northern parts of the land, and grain was grown in the bed of Wadi al-Hamam. In 1944/45 a total of 2,027 dunums was allotted to cereals. There were a few archaeological sites near the village, including two khirbas that contained building foundations, stone cairns, cisterns, a cave, a well, and a trough hewn in rock.

No accounts of the occupation of this village have been published. Judging from its location, two scenarios are possible. The first is that it was captured in the wake of the fall of Tiberias on 18 April 1948. After occupying the city, Haganah forces struck at a few of the villages in the area to consolidate their hold on Tiberias and drive out the inhabitants of its hinterland. Khirbat al-Wa'ra al-Sawda' may have been one of these villages. The second possibility is that it was captured in the course of Operation Dekel (see 'Amqa, Acre District), as the forces that had occupied Nazareth advanced eastwards in the direction of Tiberias. If so, it probably came under occupation in mid-July, along with nearby Hittin, shortly before the second truce of the war.

There is an oral report of a massacre of 'Arab al-Mawasi villagers that took place in late October or early November 1948, following the second truce of the war. According to villagers, Jewish soldiers rounded up 15 men, took them to the nearby village of Eilabun, and shot them. Two men survived, but pretended to be dead, as the soldiers had retreated only a short distance. After some minutes wait, the soldiers returned and shot each of the bodies again, this time in the head. Fourteen villagers died and were buried in a nearby cave. The only survivor escaped to Syria, along with other 'Arab al-Mawasi. Some others joined tribes in the inner Galilee.

The settlement of Ravid (193250) is 3 km west of the village site but is not on village lands. Arbel (196246), built in 1949, is about 2 km southeast of the site on the village lands of Hittin.

No traces of the houses remain. Stone terraces provide the only indication of a former village on the site. The site and the lands around it are used largely as grazing areas, although some of the lands are cultivated by Israelis.