PLace

al-Barriyya

Place
al-Barriyya — البَرِّيَّة
District
Lydda
Average Elevation
100 m
Subdistrict
Ramla
Distance from Al Ramla
5.5 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1944/45 510 510
1931 388 388
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Public Total
1944/45 2758 73 2831
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable 25 73 98
Built-up 55 55
80 73 153 (5%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Total
Cereal 2627 2627
Plantation and Irrigable 51 51
2678 2678 (95%)
Number of Houses (1931)
86

The village stood on a low rise overlooking wide areas on the south and west, and was linked by a short paved road (built by the volunteer labor of the villagers) to the al-Ramla-Jerusalem highway. Wadi al-Barriyya passed through the eastern edge of the village. In the late nineteenth century, aI-Barriyya was described as a small hamlet built of adobe bricks and surrounded by cultivated land. The village plan was rectangular, generally extending in an east-west direction; as the village grew, new houses were built towards the south and southeast. (Fruit orchards and the village's threshing grounds obstructed any possible expansion to the north, while Wadi aI-Barriyya hindered growth towards the east.) Most of the residents of al-Barriyya were Muslims and worshipped in a small mosque. The village also had an elementary school for boys, which had forty-eight students and one teacher at the time of its founding in 1943. The villagers relied upon rain water, collected in cisterns, and the water resources of nearby villages for their domestic water needs.

The village economy was based mainly on beekeeping and on rainfed agriculture. The British Royal Commission that visited the village in 1936 reported that al-Barriyya was one of the pioneering villages in the adoption of beekeeping. Revenues from this activity were estimated at 1,000 Palestinian pounds in 1936. Cultivated crops included grain, watermelons, and vegetables. In 1944/45 a total of 2,627 dunums was allocated to cereals; 51 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. Some villagers also worked in animal husbandry while a few others were migrant laborers in nearby cities.

Israeli historian Benny Morris indicates that al-Barriyya was attacked and depopulated between 10 and 13 July 1948. This apparently took place during Operation Dani (see Abu aI-Fadl, aI-Ramla District). But the History of the War of Independence states that the village was already in Israeli hands at the beginning of Operation Dani, on 9-10 July. The plan of that operation indicated that al-Barriyya would be the launching point for an Israeli unit that would encircle Lydda and al-Ramla. Under those circumstances, the village may have been occupied in the course of Operation Barak (see al-Batani al-Gharbi, Gaza District), the offensive launched in the al-Ramla area during the month of May.

Whatever the date of occupation, it is clear that al-Barriyya was firmly in Israeli hands by September. Morris relates that Israeli prime minister Ben-Gurion applied to the cabinet for permission to destroy the village in mid-September. He does not mention whether permission was granted, but that same month the village was reported to have been renamed Barriya Bet and settled with Jewish immigrants. On 21 September the settlers reportedly abandoned the site for 'lack of motivation,' preferring 'the seeming comforts of town.'

Currently there are two Israeli settlements on village lands: 'Azarya (141144), founded in 1949, and Beyt Chashmonay (142144), founded in 1972. Kefar Shemu'el (144144), founded in 1950 on the lands of the destroyed village of 'Innaba (al-Ramla District), is about 4 km east of the site.

The village site is mostly cleared and has been levelled except for one remaining stone house and fragments of the walls of two concrete houses with steel bars protruding from them (see photos).