PLace

Huj

Place
Huj — هُوج
District
Gaza
Average Elevation
100 m
Subdistrict
Gaza
Distance from Gaza
15 km
Population
Year Arab Jews Total
1944/45 810 230 1040
1931 618
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Jewish Public Total
1944/45 * 16741 4236 1011 21988
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total) *
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable * 378 145 1011 1534
Built-up ** 34 40 74
412 185 1011 1608 (7%)
Cultivable (Total) **
Use Arab Jewish Total
Cereal * 16236 4035 20271
Plantation and Irrigable ** 93 16 109
16329 4051 20380 (93%)
Number of Houses (1931)
118

The village was situated in a hilly area on the northern edge of the Negev desert, dominated by two hills on the east and west sides. It was at the intersection of a number of secondary roads that linked it to Gaza, Bir al-Sabi', and other urban centers. It has been identified with the ancient village of Oga, which appeared on the Madaba map (a document dating from the late sixth century). The village name ended with the Arabic consonant jim. This consonant may have been pronounced like a g rather than a j in antiquity, however, which means that the Arabic name would have been pronounced 'Hug' in earlier times and so would have been an Arabicized version of the ancient name.

Modern Huj was established in the early nineteenth century during the time of Mustafa Bey, who was governor of Gaza and Jaffa from 1818 to 1820. This governor offered land free of charge and built a police station to make the area secure and encourage people from Gaza to move to the site. The American biblical scholar Edward Robinson visited Huj in 1838. He noted that the village houses were built of mud and that its population was between 200 and 300. In the late nineteenth century, Huj had a rectangular layout and adobe brick structures.

Huj witnessed battles between Ottoman and British forces in 1917; it was close to the scene of the fighting. During the years that followed the village first expanded eastward and then expanded to the west, conserving the agricultural land which lay east and northeast of the village proper. The Arab population of Huj was Muslim. (Some 230 Jews resided within the administrative unit known as Huj, but they lived in their own settlement, not in the village.) The village was well endowed with groundwater. Water for domestic use was provided by a 200-foot-deep well inside the village, and there were other wells in the beds of the surrounding wadis. The villagers grew grain, fruit (such as grapes, figs, and apricots) and almonds. In 1944/45 a total of 16,236 dunums was allocated to cereals; 93 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.

During one of its pushes northwards, the Israeli army's Negev Brigade ordered the villagers of Huj to leave their homes on 31 May 1948. Israeli historian Benny Morris states that the villagers were expelled westwards and their houses were then looted and blown up. Although many Zionist officials considered the village to be 'friendly,' the prevailing opinion was that it was 'unreliable' on the front lines with the Egyptian army, according to Morris.

In September, the exiled villagers appealed to Israel to be allowed to return, on the grounds that the truce was holding. Their case was argued by a couple of Israeli officials, who were overruled by the military authorities on grounds of security or precedent. (Minister of Minority Affairs Bechor Shitrit had recommended that they be allowed to go back, albeit not to their village but to a location deeper inside Israeli-held territory.)

The settlement of Dorot (116101), established in 1941 on what had traditionally been village lands, took over more of Huj's lands after 1948.

Only one dilapidated building remains, a concrete structure with rectangular doors and windows and a flat roof. Its former function is not clear; it now serves as a farm storehouse. One can also identify the remnants of a watering trough. Sycamore trees and cactuses grow on the eastern and western edges of the site. An Israeli sheep farm has also been established on the site.