Zayta Before 1948
The village stood on a hill 1 km north of Wadi Zayta, 29 km distance from Hebron. A dirt track linked it to 'Iraq al-Manshiyya, located on a highway that ran from east to west between al-Majdal and Bayt Jibrin. In the late nineteenth century, Zayta was described as a small hamlet on the edge of the wadi, flanked on two sides by low hills and built of adobe brick. Laid out in a northeast-southwest direction, the new village of Zayta had houses built of mud, wood, and cane. Its population was Muslim.
Artesian wells dug south of the village were providing drinking water, while another well was located in the north. The villagers cultivated grain on large tracts of the land, and the rest was utilized as grazing area for goats and sheep.
Occupation, Depopulation and Israeli Settlements
Zayta was one of the villages captured during Operation An-Far. There are, nevertheless, different recordings of the date it was occupied: while Benny Morris indicates that it was taken on 17-18 1948, at the very end of this offensive, the History of the War of Independence states that the occupation took place about a week earlier, on 9-10 July.
Although there are no Israeli settlements on village lands, there is some dissent regarding a previous settlement. Benny Morris writes that the Jewish National Fund submitted a settlement plan to the Israeli cabinet about a month after the occupation of the village calling for the establishment of a kibbutz on village site. While the 20 August blueprint called this settlement Kibbutz Gal-On, different sources state that a kibbutz with the same name was already in place on land which traditionally belonged to the village of Ra'na, established early in 1947, 2 km east of the village site.
The Village Today
No traces of houses are left. Amidst tall grasses, wild flowers, and trees covering parts of the site, one can see a well, still in use. The surrounding lands are cultivated by Israeli farmers.
Source: al-Khalidi, Walid (ed.). All that remains: the Palestinian villages occupied and depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington DC: 1992.
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