PLace

Aqir

Place
Aqir — عاقِر
District
Lydda
Average Elevation
50 m
Subdistrict
Ramla
Distance from Al Ramla
9 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1944/45 2480 2480
1931 1691
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Jewish Public Total
1944/45 11322 3222 1281 15825
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable 94 14 510 618
Built-up 17
140 14 510 664 (4%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Cereal 8968 1777 771 11516
Plantation and Irrigable 914 36 950
Citrus and Bananas 1300 1395 2695
11182 3208 771 15161 (96%)
Number of Houses (1931)
401

The village was situated on the central coastal plain. Wadi al-Nasufiyya ran 1 km south of it, and a secondary road linked it to the highway leading to al-Ramla and other urban centers. Aqir has been identified with the Roman town of Accaron. In the tenth century the Arab geographer al-Maqdisi (d. A.D. 985) described Aqir as a big village with a large mosque, the residents of which baked a special kind of bread; its people were generous and philanthropic. In 1596, Aqir was a village in the nahiya of al-Ramla (liwa of Gaza) with a population of 161. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat, barley, and fruit, as well as on other types of produce and property, such as goats, beehives, and vineyards.

In the late nineteenth century, the village of Aqir was situated on low ground and built of adobe bricks. The American biblical scholar Edward Robinson visited Aqir in 1838 and described it as a sizable village. Its houses were built of sun-burnt bricks. The village was surrounded by fields and orchards. During World War II, the British established a military airport south of the village, and a military hospital 2 km north of it. At this time the village had a rectangular layout. Its houses were made of mud, cement, and stone, and were built very close to each other. As house construction increased toward the end of the Mandate, the village expanded, especially north of the secondary road that split the village into two halves. Its population was predominantly Muslim. Aqir had two elementary schools, one for boys (established in 1921) and another for girls. In 1947, 391 boys and 46 girls were enrolled in the two schools. The village also had two mosques and two shrines.

Ground water was plentiful, and in the 1940s a number of artesian wells were drilled on village land. These wells supplied irrigation water for citrus groves. The villagers cultivated other fruits as well, such as grapes, figs, and apricots. They also planted grain, which was watered by rainfall. In 1944/45 a total of 1,300 dunums was devoted to citrus and bananas and 8,968 dunums were allotted to cereals; 914 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.

Aqir was the first village to fall to the Giv'ati Brigade when it implemented the part of Plan Dalet for which it was responsible. On 5 May 1948 the brigade moved southwards from Rehovot and proceeded to surround the village. The Haganah force, estimated at 400 by a New York Times report, then demanded that all guns in the village be handed over. But Israeli historian Benny Morris adds that when this was done, 'intelligence officers believed that the villagers were holding back,' and the Giv'ati Brigade took eight villagers hostage, promising to release them when the remaining weapons were surrendered. Morris writes that the brigade then withdrew in response to British intervention. The New York Times reported that the ordeal lasted six and a half hours and that as a result, some 3,000 people fled from the village. This figure probably included refugees from nearby villages. The following day, the Haganah units returned to occupy the village, most of the residents having sought refuge in the neighboring villages of Yibna and al-Maghar. Morris writes that, 'Within weeks, the 30-odd villagers who had remained behind were expelled-an act that sparked a flurry of protests in Mapam [the Israeli United Workers' Party]...'

Baron Edmond Rothschild established the settlement of Eqron in 1883, 1 km south of the village site on land purchased by the settlers; it was later renamed Mazkeret Batya . The settlement of Qiryat Eqron  was established in 1948 on village lands; its name was later changed to Kefar Eqron. Ganne Yochanan , also on village lands, was built in 1950.

A number of small houses remain, several of which are occupied by Jewish families. One is a cement house with a gabled roof and rectangular doors and windows; another is similar in its features, but its roof is flat. Cypresses, sycamores, and cactuses grow on the site. The surrounding lands are cultivated by Israelis.