The village stood on the coastal plain 33km. northeast of Gaza. The second adjectival part of its name al-Shamaliyya (the northern) distinguishes it from the two neighboring villages with the same name al-Sawafir. At crusader times the village was known as Zeophir and was reported to be the property of the Bishop of Jerusalem in the early 12-th century. At the end of the 16-th century Ottoman records register a population of 616 people. In 1931 only 454 people were counted, living in 77 houses, most of which were built of adobe bricks, some of stone. In !944-45 the population reached 680, all Muslim.
The village had its own mosque but shared a school with the two neighboring villages. About 280 students attended the school in the mid 1940s. The village lands covered 5861 dunams, 450 of which were sold to Jewish settlers. Agriculture, mostly rainfed, was the main income source of the village. Cereals, Citrus fruits, bananas, apricots and grapes were their main crops.
Occupation and Depopulation
Like its two neighboring villages al-Sawafir al-Shamaliyya was occupied at the beginning of Barak operation launched on May 9-th 1948 in order to cleanse the southwestern area under the control of Hagana forces before May 15-th 1948. The operation plan ordered the Givati brigade "to deny the enemy a basis…and diminish its forces by creating a general panic and demoralization" (Morris 176:1991) Till the end of May the Israeli army units managed to conquer more than 30 villages and cleanse the area of tens of thousands of people.
Israeli Settlements on Village Lands
There are no Israeli settlements on village lands.
The village today
A few deserted houses and house remnants remain on the site. An old village road is also visible as well as cactuses and fig trees. The surrounding land is 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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