PLace

Bayt Tima

Place
Bayt Tima — بَيْت طِيما
District
Gaza
Average Elevation
75 m
Subdistrict
Gaza
Distance from Gaza
21 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1944/45 1060 1060
1931 762 762
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Public Total
1944/45 10753 279 11032
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable 52 279 331
Built-up 60 60
112 279 391 (4%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Total
Cereal 10444 10444
Plantation and Irrigable 197 197
10641 10641 (96%)
Number of Houses (1931)
157

The village was built on flat terrain on the southern coastal plain in a region rich with archaeological artifacts, including some from the Crusades. A secondary road linked it to the coastal highway a short distance to the west, affording it access to Gaza and the city of al-Majdal. In 1596, Bayt Tima was a village in the nahiya of Gaza (liwa' of Gaza), with a population of 693. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat, barley, fruit, almonds, and sesame, as well as on other types of produce, such as goats and beehives.

In the late nineteenth century, Bayt Tima was a village of moderate size with two pools and shrines, and two small patches of garden nearby. During the Mandate, the village had its own shops and a mosque, and shared an elementary school, built in 1946, with the neighboring villages of Kawkaba and Hulayqat. Its mud houses were grouped together in blocks, separated by streets or open space; the largest block was at the center of the village. Most of the residents of Bayt Tima were Muslims. They worked mainly in rainfed agriculture, cultivating grain, vegetables, and fruits, especially figs, apricots, and almonds. In 1944/45 a total of 10,444 dunums was allotted to cereals; 197 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. In the cemetery south of the village a badly worn tessellated (mosaic) pavement was found that suggests a Roman or Byzantine presence. One could also see evidence in the village mosque that architectural elements from earlier times had been reused.

A Zionist attempt to infiltrate Bayt Tima was recorded as early as 9 February 1948, according to the Jaffa-based Palestinian daily Filastin. That attempt was driven back by a hail of bullets from the village's defenders which went on for half an hour.

An aerial and artillery bombardment in mid-October 1948 led to the flight of a large number of refugees from Bayt Tima, according to Israeli historian Benny Morris. The village was occupied on 18–19 October, in the early stages of Operation Yo'av. The New York Times quoted an Israeli army communiqué on 20 October which said that Bayt Tima had fallen along with Kawkaba and Hulayqat. It was probably captured by the Giv'ati Brigade.

Israeli sources had told the Associated Press that they had occupied Bayt Tima at the beginning of June. They claimed they captured it while 'slashing behind an Egyptian coastal spearhead' on 1 June. But the occupation was apparently short-lived, since Israeli forces also threatened Bayt Tima a month later, according to Egyptian writer Muhammad 'Abd al-Mun'im. He writes that at the end of the first truce, in early July, the village was held by Palestinian militiamen. Israeli forces encroached on the village, occupying the hills overlooking the village, and its defenders were reinforced by a Saudi company fighting on the southern front. It remained in Arab hands throughout the second truce.

There are no Israeli settlements on village lands.

Sycamore and carob trees grow around the rubble on the site. The land is used for agriculture.