Kefar Darom

views updated


KEFAR DAROM (Heb. כְּפַר דָּרוֹם), locality in the southern coastal plain of Philistia. It is first mentioned in the Talmud as the seat of R. Eleazar b. Isaac (Sot. 20b). It was captured by the Arabs in 634 and in Crusader times it was a fortress called Dārūm. Taken by Saladin in 1188, it was destroyed in 1192 by Richard the Lionhearted and later rebuilt by the Ayyubids. Arab writers describe it as one hour distant from Gaza (whose southern gate was known as Bāb al-Dārūm) on the border of the desert in an area famous for its vines. It is generally identified with the village of Dayr al-Balaḥ, 10 mi. (16 km.) south of Gaza. The village contains an ancient mound and the ruins of an old mosque. Kefar Darom was also the name of a modern kibbutz founded in 1946 which fell to the Egyptians in the Israel War of Independence (1948–49). Settlers from Kefar Darom then moved to a new site which they called Benei *Darom. In 1970 a *Naḥal group moved back to the original site of kibbutz Kefar Darom, making it the first settlement in the *Gush Katif area. In 1973 it became a civilian settlement and served as a training farm for *Gush Emunim settlers. A few years later, it was abandoned, until 1989, when new inhabitants settled there. From the 1990s, Kefar Darom came under terror attacks. In the mid-1990s the population was approximately 150 and at the end of 2002 the population of Kefar Darom increased to 324 residents. In August 2005 Kefar Darom was evacuated along with the other settlements of Gush Katif as part of the government's disengagement plan. Resistance was particularly strong, with settlers barricading themselves inside the synagogue and on its roof before being forcibly removed by the police and army.


Abel, in: rb, 49 (1940), 67ff.

[Michael Avi-Yonah /

Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]