PLace

Zarnuqa

Place
Zarnuqa — زَرْنُوقَة
District
Lydda
Average Elevation
50 m
Subdistrict
Ramla
Distance from Al Ramla
10 km
Population
Year Arab Jews Total
1944/45 * 2380 240 2620
1931 1952
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Jewish Public Total
1944/45 * 5640 1578 327 7545
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total) *
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable * 47 57 327 431
Built-up ** 68
115 57 327 499 (7%)
Cultivable (Total) **
Use Arab Jewish Total
Cereal * 2266 493 2759
Plantation and Irrigable ** 1189 13 1202
Citrus and Bananas *** 2070 1015 3085
5525 1521 7046 (93%)
Number of Houses (1931)
414

The village stood on flat land on the central coastal plain, linked by a secondary road to a highway that led to al-Ramla. In the late nineteenth century, Zarnuqa was a village built of adobe bricks with gardens and cactus hedges around it. All of the people living in Zarnuqa were Muslims. The village was laid out in a trapezoidal shape, with the western side making up the long base of the trapezoid. Construction proceeded at a fast pace in the final years of the Mandate as a result of the economic boom. Zarnuqa had a clinic and a boys' primary school that was founded in 1924; in 1942 it became a full elementary school, and had an enrollment of 252 pupils by the mid-1940s. It offered students training in agronomy, including the raising of poultry and bee-keeping, on a 6-dunum land annex. A girls' elementary school was established in 1943, with an initial enrollment of sixty-five students.

The main pillar of the village economy was agriculture, which was based on fruit, especially citrus, cultivation. Citrus and other fruit trees ringed Zarnuqa on all sides and were irrigated from wells; the trees were most numerous in the north and northwest, where the wells had been bored. In 1944/ 45 a total of 2,070 dunums was devoted to citrus and bananas and 2,266 dunums were allocated to cereals; 1,189 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. A weekly market was held in the village on Saturdays and served as an outlet for merchants from Jaffa, Lydda, and al-Ramla.

Israeli troops from the Giv'ati Brigade occupied the 'semi-abandoned' village on 27 May 1948, during Operation Barak (see al-Batani al-Gharbi, Gaza District), according to Israeli historian Benny Morris. The atrocities committed at Zarnuqa were recorded in a letter to the Israeli left-wing Mapam party newspaper, 'Al ha-Mishmar. The writer had been briefed by a participant:

The soldier told me how one of the soldiers opened a door and fired a Sten at an old man, an old woman, and a child in one burst, how they took the Arabs … out of all the houses and stood [them] in the sun all day-in thirst and hunger until they surrendered 40 rifles ... The Arabs claimed that they hadn't [weapons, and] in the end they were expelled from the village towards Yibna.

At the time, 'Israeli sources' were quoted by the New York Times as saying that Zarnuqa and al-Qubayba were occupied in a four-hour battle. Morris writes that the village 'had traditionally been friendly to the Yishuv,' but that nevertheless, troops and farmers from neighboring settlements ransacked its houses after it was occupied. The village was eventually destroyed outright in June.

In August, the nearby Kvutzat (Kibbutz) Schiller applied to the Jewish settlement authorities for the lands of Zarnuqa 'to be transferred into our hands in perpetuity as a supplement to our land allocation.' Morris does not say whether this request was granted, but he indicates that by 27 May 1949, new immigrants were settled at the site of the destroyed village.

In late 1948 the settlement of Zarnoqa (130143) was established on the village site. It is now a neighborhood on the outskirts of Rechovot (132145), which had been founded in 1890. The settlement of Gan Shelomo (131142), which was originally established in 1927, later expanded onto village lands. Gibton (131144), built in 1933, and Giv'at Brenner (131141), built in 1928, have also spread onto village lands and are merging with the suburbs of Rechovot.

The site, on which mulberry trees and cactuses grow, is dominated by the houses of the Israeli settlements. There are mulberry trees and cactuses. The few houses that remain are either occupied by Jewish inhabitants or fenced in and used for storage. One of the fenced-in houses is made of concrete and has a wide, roofed porch with two columns supporting the rafters. The surrounding lands are used by the settlements for agriculture.