Abu Shusha

Abu Shusha — أبو شُوشَة
Average Elevation
200 m
Distance from Al Ramla
8.5 km
Year Arab Total
1931 627
1944/45 870 870
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Jewish Public Total
1944/45 2896 6337 192 9425
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Built-up 24 24
Non-Cultivable 343 768 192 1303
367 768 192 1327 (14%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Total
Plantation and Irrigable 54 54
Cereal 2475 5569 8044
2529 5569 8098 (86%)
Number of Houses (1931)

The village was situated on the south slope of Tall Jazar, where the coastal plain met the Jerusalem foothills. It was linked by a secondary road to the Jaffa-Jerusalem highway, which ran northeast of it. Tall Jazar is identified with the Old Testament city of Gezer, which was the site of a major excavation early in this century. The city may have first been settled as early as the fourth millennium B.C.; excavations in the village turned up artifacts that dated back to the third millennium B.C. (the early Bronze Age). The Canaanites made the place into a city and enclosed it with a wall. It was mentioned as one of the cities that were occupied by Thutmose III around 1469 B.C. Solomon is believed to have turned it into a major stronghold. It prospered as well under the Persians and the Greeks; a Roman house and early Christian lamps were unearthed there. In Roman times the site was called Gazara. It lay within the administrative jurisdiction of Nicopolis, a city that occupied the site of the modern Palestinian village of 'Imwas. (This village was populated until June 1967, when the Israeli government destroyed it and two other villages, Bayt Nuba and Yalu, soon after the capture of the West Bank.) Little is known about Abu Shusha in the early Islamic period. In A.D. 1177 the site, called Mont Gisart by the Crusaders, was the location of a battle between the Crusaders and the troops of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin) in which the latter were defeated. Artifacts (ceramics and coins) dating to the thirteenth century A.D. that were found on the site indicate that it may have been inhabited at that time. There is also evidence of construction in the following centuries; a shrine (maqam) on the tell seems to have been built in the sixteenth century. During the early nineteenth century Abu Shusha was a village built of stone and mud and surrounded by cactus hedges. The village population consisted of 100 families. Later in the nineteenth century the traveler Elihu Grant, who saw Abu Shusha, described it as a tiny village.

In modern times the entire population of the village was Muslim. The villagers made their houses of mud and stone and built them close to each other. Abu Shusha had a mosque, a number of shops, and an elementary school founded in 1947, with an initial enrollment of 33 children. In 1944/45 a total of 2,475 dunums was allocated to cereals; 54 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.

Abu Shusha was first attacked in the early months of the war in what the Haganah called 'the model of a studied retaliatory operation.' According to the account given by the History of the Haganah, the hit-and-run attack was carried out after a guardsman from the nearby settlement of Gezer was killed while trespassing on the fields of Abu Shusha. After midnight on 1 April 1948, two platoons of the Giv'ati Brigade's Second Battalion, accompanied by other forces, infiltrated into the village and demolition experts blew up a house and a well. Meanwhile, reinforcements for the Arab militia arrived from the adjacent village of al-Qubab and clashed with a Haganah unit covering the attackers. One of the Jewish attackers was fatally wounded, but the History makes no mention of Arab casualties among the villagers or local militiamen.

The village fell during Operation Barak (see al-Batani al-Gharbi, Gaza sub-disctrict) on 14 May 1948, at the hands of the Giv'ati Brigade, according to Israeli historian Benny Morris. (The History of the Haganah puts the occupation a day later.) Morris states that the attacking units shelled Abu Shusha with mortars the night before it fell, on 13 May; the residents fled, and some of the village houses were dynamited. The destruction of the village was also coordinated with an offensive in progress to the east, aimed at occupying the strategic village of al-Latrun. With the capture of Abu Shusha, the units participating in Operation Makkabi (see Khirbat Bayt Far, Ramla sub-disctrict) gained a stronger foothold in the area.

In 1948, a settlement named Ameilim was established on the site of the destroyed village. Pedaya (139140) was established in 1951 on the lands of Abu Shusha, close to its border with the lands of the destroyed village of al-Na'ani (138142). Gezer (142142), established on 13 March 1945, north of Abu Shusha is also close to the site but stands on land that formerly belonged to the village of al-Qubab. Other nearby settlements that are not on village land are Petachya (139141) and Beyt 'Uzzi'el (141141), founded in 1951 and 1956, respectively. Both settlements are northwest of the former village.

The Israeli settlement of Ameilim occupies much of the site. Fig and cypress trees, cactuses, and one palm tree grow on the site. The surrounding valleys are planted in apricots and figs, and various kinds of fruit trees are cultivated on the heights.