Peasants' Revolt of 1834 (Palestine)
|Peasant's Revolt of 1834|
|Part of Campaigns of Muhammad Ali of Egypt|
| Egypt Eyalet
||Rebel clans of Palestine
|Commanders and leaders|
| Muhammad Ali
Jabr Abu Ghosh (From July 1834)
|Qasim al-Ahmad †
|~26,000 professional soldiers||Tens of thousands of irregulars|
|Casualties and losses|
|Thousands of rebels killed, 10,000 villagers deported to Egypt|
|Thousands of Arab civilians and rebels killed by Pasha's forces, Total: about 10,000 killed|
The Peasants' Revolt was a rebellion against Egyptian conscription and taxation policies. While rebel ranks consisted mostly of the local peasantry, urban notables and Bedouin tribes also formed an integral part of the revolt, which was a collective reaction to Egypt's gradual elimination of the unofficial rights and privileges previously enjoyed by the various classes of society in the Levant under Ottoman rule.
As part of Muhammad Ali's modernization policies, Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian governor of the Levant issued conscription orders for every fifth Muslim male. Encouraged by local chief Qasim al-Ahmad, the notables of Nablus, Hebron and the Jerusalem-Jaffa area did not abide by Ibrahim Pasha's orders to conscript and tax the local peasantry. Al-Ahmad and other local clan leaders rallied their kinsmen and engaged in an open revolt against the authorities in May 1834, taking control of several towns. While the core of the fighting was in the central mountain regions of Palestine (Samaria and Judea), the revolt also spread to the Galilee, Gaza and parts of Transjordan. Jerusalem was briefly captured by the rebels and plundered. Faced with the superior firepower and organization of Ibrahim Pasha's troops, the rebels were defeated in Jabal Nablus, Jerusalem and the coastal plain before their final defeat in Hebron, which was leveled. Afterward, Muhammad Ali's troops pursued and captured al-Ahmad in al-Karak, which was also leveled.
Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal argue that the revolt was a formative event for the Palestinian sense of nationhood, in that it brought together disparate groups against a common enemy. These groups are some of those that reemerged later to constitute the Palestinian people. The revolt represented a rare moment of political unity in Palestine. However, the ultimate intention of the notables and rebel leaders was to force out the Egyptian army and reinstate Ottoman rule as a means of restoring the Ottoman-era standards that defined the relationship between the government and the governed. These standards were made up of the religious laws, administrative codes and local norms and customs that were disrupted by Egyptian reforms.
- 1 Background
- 2 Revolt
- 3 Aftermath
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Bibliography
- 7 External links
In consolidating his power, Muhammad Ali, the rebel ruler of Ottoman Egypt, ruled autocratically, while taking his model from the organization of bureaucracy characteristic of modern European states. Like earlier rulers of Egypt, Muhammad Ali desired to exercise control over greater Syria (Bilad al-Sham), both for its strategic value and for its rich natural resources. Not only did Syria have abundant natural resources, it also boasted a thriving international trading community with well-developed markets. In addition, in his strategy it would be a captive market for goods then being produced in Egypt. More importantly, the extension of Egyptian control over Syria was desirable because it would serve as a buffer state between Egypt and the Ottoman sultan in Constantinople.
A new fleet and army was raised and built, and on 31 October 1831, under Ibrahim Pasha, Ali's eldest son, the Egyptian invasion of Syria began, which initiated the First Egyptian–Ottoman War. For the sake of international appearances, the pretext for the expedition was a quarrel with Abdullah Pasha of Acre. Wāli Ali alleged that 6,000 fellaheen (peasant, farmer or agricultural labourer) had fled to Acre to escape the draft, corvée, and taxes, and he demanded their return. Ibrahim Pasha advanced through Palestine, occupying Haifa in December 1831, and then using the city as his primary military base.
Events preceding the revolt
By May 1834, the last prominent ally of the Egyptians in Palestine was the Abd al-Hadi clan. Egyptian economic and political policies had alienated four broad and influential factions in Palestine, namely the effendiyat (notables) of Jerusalem, the bulk of the major clans in Jabal Nablus, the clans of the Jerusalem hinterland, and the Bedouin tribes in the areas of Hebron and Bethlehem.
The Abu Ghosh, based in the village of Qaryat al-Inab, traditionally served as toll collectors for the Jerusalem-Jaffa road, and were increasingly considered by Ibrahim Pasha as extortionists. They were targeted by the authorities in 1833. The clan's leadership was arrested, including head sheikh Ibrahim Abu Ghosh, and were temporarily put into forced labor in Acre. Relations between the authorities and the south-central Bedouin tribes were also antagonistic. Traditionally, during Ottoman rule, the Bedouin were allowed to collect tribute payments from travelers and the inhabitants of the area in return for services to the state. Ibrahim Pasha saw the Bedouin as raiders who exceeded their privileges and abolished this practice. He also imposed additional conditions on the Bedouin, primarily the requirement of transporting grain for Egyptian troops in return for the right to graze livestock. In 1833, the Dura-based Amr tribe of the Hebron Hills, which was headed by Isa Amr and Abd al-Rahman Amr, were subject to a military campaign by Ibrahim Pasha. The Abu Ghosh, the Ras Karkar-based Simhan clan, and the Amr tribe were essentially at war with the Egyptians.
In late 1832, Qasim al-Ahmad, leader of the Qasim clan and the chief of the nahiya (sub-district) of Jamma'in in Jabal Nablus was dismissed by Ibrahim Pasha from his additional post as mutassalim (administrator) of Jerusalem after serving a few months in office. The official reasoning for al-Ahmad's dismissal was his "advanced age". He was replaced by his son Muhammad al-Qasim, who was consequently removed from the more powerful post of mutassalim of Nablus. Afterward, Sulayman 'Abd al-Hadi of the Arraba-based Abd al-Hadi clan, a prominent ally of the Egyptians, was appointed to Muhammad's former post in Nablus. The move was a power-play by Ibrahim Pasha and the Abd al-Hadi's, who were quickly gaining prominence in the region, their members having been appointed to head the Eyalet of Sidon (which included most of Palestine) and a number of its districts. The move provoked the Qasim clan's anger with the Abd al-Hadi family and the Egyptian authorities.
The imposition of new taxation categories that were in violation of both secular Ottoman law and traditionally accepted Islamic law drew local Muslim anger at the authorities. However, the principal point of contention between the authorities and the notables of Jerusalem and Nablus was the conscription order by Ibrahim Pasha on 25 April 1834. That day, Ibrahim Pasha convened with all of the clan leaders from both cities to demand the drafting of one out of every five Muslim men of fighting age. The order would begin with the conscription of 200 men from Jerusalem, 3,500 men from Sanjak al-Quds and Sanjak Nablus, and 500 men from Hebron.
According to a chronicled account, during the meeting, Ibrahim Pasha attempted to address the reluctance of the notables to send their kinsmen and peasants to the army, asking that as Muslims at war with Christian nations, "is it not necessary for us to have a big standing army?" The notables replied in the affirmative, but asserted that their men were already trained in the art of war and like the generations before them, they would "willingly shed blood" for the "fatherland" and "defend their country" from "the enemies of our religion". Ibrahim Pasha countered that their fighters would need to be professionally trained, telling them "War is not the place for a herd of useless men".
Beginning of revolt
In retaliation for his dismissal and his son's virtual demotion, Qasim al-Ahmad organized the a'ayan (notables) of Nablus, Hebron and Jerusalem against Ibrahim Pasha. On 19 May 1834, the notables gathered and notified Egyptian officials that they were not able to conscript the Palestinian Arab peasantry into the army or collect taxes from them, claiming that the peasantry took up arms and had fled to the mountains which were difficult to access. At the time of the notables' stated failure to conscript local peasants, Ibrahim Pasha had been in need of new troops to replenish his army in preparation for further advances against the Ottomans. He considered the notables' position to be treasonous and amounting to an insurrection.
Following the declaration of the notables, a meeting of local sheikhs (chiefs) from Jabal Nablus was hosted by al-Ahmad in his clan's hometown of Beit Wazan and attended by al-Ahmad's sons Yusuf and Muhammad, Abdullah al-Jarrar of Sanur, Isa al-Barqawi of Shufa and Nasser al-Mansur al-Hajj Muhammad of Beit Furik. The leaders expressed their frustrations at the close cooperation between the Abd al-Hadi family and the Egyptian government and the meeting concluded with an agreement to oust the Egyptian army from Palestine. Under al-Ahmad's leadership the peasantry of Jabal Nablus moved to openly revolt against the authorities.
The uprising spread to Jerusalem, Hebron and other mountainous areas in what is today known as the West Bank. Although Nablus was the core of the rebel strength, the first actual clash between the authorities and the rebels occurred in the vicinity of Hebron after a group of Egyptian nezzam (professional soldiers) were sent by the Egyptian governor of Hebron to enforce the draft orders. Local peasants from the nearby village of Sa'ir and Bedouin fighters from the Bethlehem-based Ta'amira tribe joined forces and killed some 25 soldiers during the fighting, defeating Ibrahim Pasha's forces in the area. Prior to this clash, peasants and local Bedouin took up arms against the Egyptian army in al-Salt, the Transjordanian center of the Nablus-based Touqan family.
Rebel capture of Jerusalem
While there are no known records of military planning, in early May the notables of Nablus, Jerusalem and Hebron coordinated an assault against Jerusalem. On 8 May armed peasants from Nablus, Jerusalem, Hebron and Gaza besieged the city and some 10,000 attempted to storm the walls. They were initially repulsed by the Egyptian garrison. An earthquake occurred in the city on 13 May and fighting ceased for several days. On 19 May, some residents of Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood informed rebel leaders that they could use Hezekiah's Tunnel, then an abandoned sewer tunnel that ran from the Dung Gate to a mill in the Jewish Quarter, to clandestinely enter Jerusalem. The next day 36 rebels (peasants and Jerusalemites) entered the city via the tunnel and then opened the Dung Gate to allow thousands of rebels inside the walled city. The Egyptian commander of the city, Rashad Bey, subsequently withdrew his garrison into Jerusalem's citadel to take up positions against the incoming rebels.
The rebels, who were joined by some of the city's poorer Muslim residents, began to loot the homes of Egyptian officers. In response some 500 Egyptian troops left the citadel to pursue the rebels, but also began to loot homes in the city as well in revenge. However, Rashad Bey ordered them to cease. Fifty rebels, sixteen residents and five soldiers were killed in the confrontations of 20 May. On 21 May, the rebels attacked the city again and after a brief counterattack, Rashad Bey and his men returned to the citadel. Afterward, residents sympathetic to the revolt opened the Damascus Gate and 2,000 irregulars from Nablus entered the city and swelled rebel ranks, which reached some 20,000. Prior to their entry, on the same day, Rashad Bey's troops had arrested Jerusalem's leading notables, including the mufti Tahir Effendi al-Husayni, the leading ashraf Umar Effendi al-Husayni and Muhammad al-Khalidi, among others. When the Nabulsi reinforcements arrived, Egyptian troops withdrew further into the citadel and Jerusalem was all but captured.
The rebels besieged and fired at the citadel and a wave of mass looting followed for the next three days. Virtually every Muslim, Jewish and Christian-owned shop was raided and damaged. Because the Muslim shops were the last to be plundered, their owners were able to salvage most of their valuable merchandise. Local Muslims were resentful of the Christians and Jews of Jerusalem, who were generally sympathetic to Ibrahim as his rule brought them economic prosperity. They were therefore singled out for abuse. Protests by some citizens against the looting went unheeded as they were outnumbered by rebels. After the market areas were plundered, rebels began to loot the homes of Christians, which had been abandoned during the chaos, despite strict orders by rebel leaders and local sheikhs not to. The latter warned that such actions would provoke the protests of the Ottoman sultan, who was at war with Muhammad Ali. On 23 May, all state-owned provisions warehouses and granaries were looted.
Battles in Jerusalem and its environs
On 24 May Ibrahim Pasha departed from Jaffa with 9,000 soldiers and began his march toward recapturing Jerusalem. The next day, thousands of rebels left the city to harry Ibrahim Pasha's forces on their route. A trip that would have normally taken five hours lasted two days as rebels attacked Egyptian troops, inflicting some 1,500 casualties, including at least 500 fatalities. When Ibrahim Pasha reached Jerusalem, he did not enter the city immediately and instead stationed his forces at his headquarters in Mount Zion, which overlooked Jerusalem. On 28 May, he offered an amnesty to any rebel who surrendered, but none did. With 3,000 soldiers he personally commanded a pursuit of rebels inside the city, resulting in the deaths of about 300 rebels and the capture of some 500. Most were promptly released, but seventeen were jailed.
On 30 May Ibrahim Pasha re-entered Jerusalem and on 31 May Egyptian troops attacked Beit Jala, a nearby Christian village. A reported 33 men and women were killed because of their alleged involvement in the looting of Egyptian property. The purported revenge killings were halted by Ibrahim Pasha, but the residents' livestock was seized. The next day, over 1,000 rebels from the Ta'amira tribe entered the adjacent town of Bethlehem to protect their families and the Christian inhabitants from potentially experiencing the same fate of Beit Jala. They refrained from directly confronting Ibrahim Pasha, however. Bethlehem's Muslim Quarter was destroyed by the Egyptian army and its inhabitants disarmed. This move was apparently a punishment for the killing of a favored loyalist of Ibrahim Pasha. Reverend W.M. Thomson wrote "this terrible vengeance failed to quell the turbulent spirit of the people. They are ever distinguished in the great feasts at Jerusalem by their fierce and lawless manners, and if any row occurs they are sure to have a hand in it." On 4 June, rebels launched an attack on Ibrahim Pasha and his troops (about 4,000 men) at Solomon's Pools near al-Khader.
In Jerusalem meanwhile, Rashad Bey and his garrison (numbering 1,500 men) were assaulted by rebel forces. Rashad Bey and 800 Egyptian soldiers were killed, while hundreds more were captured by rebels and taken to Hebron. Ibrahim Pasha had since returned to Mount Zion and the rebels attempted to lay siege against him and his troops.
Spread of rebellion and truce negotiations
By 8 June, Nablus was in full-scale rebellion as were the coastal towns of Ramla, Lydda, Jaffa and Acre. Rebels also captured Safad and Tiberias in the eastern Galilee and Bedouin participating in the revolt attacked the Egyptian garrison at al-Karak in Transjordan. In the latter confrontation, 200 Egyptian soldiers were killed. In the rebel attack on Safad on 15 June, unknown number of the city's Jewish inhabitants were killed or raped over a period of 33 days.
When the notables of Jerusalem learned that Muhammad Ali was set to arrive in Palestine with reinforcements, they offered to mediate a truce between the Egyptians and the rebel leaders through the mufti Tahir Effendi al-Husayni. The leader of the rebels in the Hebron Hills, Isa al-Amr, informed al-Husayni of three conditions for a truce to be reached: the pardoning of all rebels, the cancellation of conscription orders in return for the payment of 1,000 qirsh per male, and the abolition of the new taxation category. The terms were rejected by Ibrahim Pasha, but he continued negotiations with al-Husayni through Husayn Abd al-Hadi, the governor of Sidon.
Qasim al-Ahmad, head of the rebels in Jabal Nablus, then requested a pardon from Ibrahim Pasha so that he could negotiate an end to the fighting himself. Ibrahim agreed and with guarantees of safety by al-Husayni and Abd al-Hadi, al-Ahmad met with Ibrahim in late June. The latter admonished al-Ahmad for his betrayal of Muhammad Ali, to which al-Ahmad responded with an apology and an explanation that his hand was forced. By the end of the meeting, the two reconciled and Ibrahim reappointed al-Ahmad both as mutassalim of both Nablus and Jerusalem.
However, some time after the summit with al-Ahmad, Muhammad Ali had several prominent Jerusalemite notables, including Tahir Effendi al-Husayni, Umar Effendi al-Husayni, Muhammad Ali al-Husayni, Muhammad Ali al-Khalidi, Sheikh Abdullah Budayri and Muhammad Abul Saud arrested and sentenced to exile in Egypt where they would be incarcerated. A number of major notables from other parts of Palestine were rounded up as well, including the religious leaders Sheikh Abdullah al-Fahum of Nazareth and Sheikh Said al-Sadi of az-Zeeb. Both were exiled to Egypt. Masud al-Madi, the former chief adviser the Ottoman-era governor of Acre and enemy of the Egyptians - Abdullah Pasha, and his son Isa al-Madi, the mutassalim of Safad, were arrested and executed by beheading for joining the revolt. The Madi family was the most powerful feudal household in the northern coastal region of Palestine at the time of their leaders' executions.
Defeat of the rebels in Jabal Nablus and the coast
Qasim al-Ahmad responded to the arrest of the Jerusalemite notables by cancelling his truce with Muhammad Ali and rallying his the rebels of Jabal Nablus. He asserted that the truce negotiations were a ruse to hold off the rebels until the arrival of reinforcements from Egypt. The rebels' strategy in Jabal Nablus was to split their forces (30,000 fighters) into three divisions and fight Ibrahim Pasha's troops on three fronts: Ras al-Ayn, the approaches of the Galilee, and Nablus city. On 24 June, Bedouin not directly affiliated to Qasim's irregulars, attacked Ibrahim Pasha's camp in the coastal plain. Four days of battle then followed between the rebels and Ibrahim Pasha's men at Ras al-Ayn, until the fortress was captured by the latter on 28 June.
On 30 June, Muhammad Ali landed in Jaffa with 15,000 troops from Egypt and on 2 July he convened with his son Ibrahim Pasha at Ramla where the arrested Jerusalemite notables were assembled. Ali ordered the arrest of rebel leaders Qasim al-Ahmad, his sons Yusuf and Muhammad, Abdullah Jarrar and Isa al-Barqawi. Ali then instructed his ally Bashir Shihab II of Mount Lebanon to back Egyptian forces in the Sidon Eyalet (which included most of Palestine at the time). Meanwhile Sulayman Abd al-Hadi and Ibrahim Abu Ghosh requested the release of Jabr Abu Ghosh from prison. In return for the allegiance of the Abu Ghosh clan, Ali heeded their request, released Jabr and appointed him mutassalim of Jerusalem in place of Muhammad al-Qasim, who had defected to the rebels at the start of the revolt.
Jabr immediately commenced an operation to disarm the people of the Jerusalem region, ordering the execution of anyone found with a weapon. Ali personally ordered the decapitations of the mutasallims of Ramla and Lydda and of heads of rebellious villages near Jaffa. Acre was recaptured by the Egyptians and 2,000 of its inhabitants were killed in the process. After receiving personal assurances from Husayn Abd al-Hadi that enforce Ibrahim Pasha's rule in Palestine, Ali departed for Egypt on 6 July.
Ibrahim Pasha continued his expedition against the rebels of Jabal Nablus, pursuing them at Zeita. Ninety rebels were slain while the rest fled to Deir al-Ghusun, situated on a hilltop to the east of Zeita. At Deir al-Ghusun, many of the inhabitants and rebels heeded Husayn Abd al-Hadi's instructions to flee once the Egyptian troops arrived. Qasim al-Ahmad had several of his own men killed for defecting to Muhammad Ali. Ibrahim Pasha's troops stormed the hill and the rebels (mostly members of the Qasim, Jarrar, Jayyusi and Barqawi clans) were routed, suffering 300 fatalities. Most of the surviving rebels, including Qasim al-Ahmad and his son Yusuf, who were wounded, fled. Captured rebels of fighting age were sent to Egypt for professional military training while older rebels had their right hands cut off.
Following the rebels' defeat at Deir al-Ghusun on 14 July, Ibrahim Pasha's troops proceeded to Nablus unhindered, passing through Arraba, the stronghold of the Abd al-Hadi family, and then through Sanur, the throne of the Jarrar clan. When they entered Nablus on 15 July, no resistance was put up, and shortly afterward, the entirety of Jabal Nablus submitted to Muhammad Ali's troops. From Nablus, Ibrahim Pasha dispatched his troops north to occupy Jenin and Nazareth, before arriving in Jerusalem on 20 July with 30,000 new conscripts.
Battle of Hebron
Qasim and some of his men headed south to the Hebron Hills after their defeat in Jabal Nablus. They confronted Ibrahim Pasha's troops at Solomon's Pools, but were defeated after brief clash. Afterward they fled to the city of Hebron. On 4 August Ibrahim Pasha's troops besieged the city, leveling its fort (it was never restored) by cannon fire. They then sacked and ransacked the city, and decisively defeated Qasim's forces. According to historian Roger Heacock, the rebels and the townspeople "fought bravely and desperately, but they suffered severely from artillery fire."
Mass killings and rapes by the Egyptian troops took place. About 500 people were killed, and 750 men were taken as conscripts. Another 120 adolescents were taken by Egyptian officers "to do with as they wanted", according to historian Baruch Kimmerling. According to Jewish historian Joseph Schwarz, most of the Muslim population managed to flee beforehand to the hills. Some of the Jewish community however stayed behind, and, during the general pillage of the town, twelve of them were killed. The majority however, like most of the Jews of Safed and Tiberias, fled to Jerusalem.
Execution of Qasim al-Ahmad and rebel leadership
Qasim al-Ahmad, his sons Yusuf and Muhammad, and Isa al-Barqawi fled Hebron during the fighting and headed east across the Jordan River. They were sheltered in al-Karak by a Bedouin clan affiliated with Anizzah tribal confederation. Ibrahim Pasha's troops pursued them and laid siege on al-Karak for 17 days. After a hole was blasted into the town's walls in late August, al-Karak was destroyed and the orchards outside the town were uprooted as punitive measures against the residents for hosting al-Ahmad. Fearing retaliation from Ibrahim Pasha, the Anizzah clan's chief, Duwaikhi al-Samir, then handed over the rebel leaders to the Egyptians.
After his capture, al-Ahmad, one of his lieutenants, Arsab al-Kahol, and al-Barqawi were publicly executed in Damascus. Al-Ahmad's sons Yusuf and Muhammad were executed in Acre. His two youngest sons Uthman and Ahmad were exiled to Cairo, Egypt. Ibrahim Pasha also had several other rebellious sheikhs (chiefs) executed in Damascus, including Isa al-Amr of Dura, Ali Rabbah and Abd al-Jabir Barghouti of Bani Zeid, Yusuf Salama of Seluh, Ismail ibn Simhan of Ras Karkar and Ismail Majali of al-Karak. Several other sheikhs were jailed in Acre
The 1834 revolt and the immediate aftermath reduced the male population of Palestine by about one-fifth. Large numbers of peasants were either deported to Egypt to work in manufacturing, drafted into Egypt's military, or abandoned their villages and farms to join the Bedouin nomadic populations. Around 10,000 peasants were deported to Egypt and the general population was disarmed. Abandoned or rebellious villages were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha's troops, which prevented their inhabitants to return. The Egyptian army razed 16 villages before taking Nablus. Ibrahim Pasha forced the heads of the Nablus clans to leave for nearby villages. The absence of the traditional local leadership due to exile or execution left Palestine's urban population to be financially exploited by both the government and its local opponents. Ottoman rule was subsequently reinstated in 1840, but many Egyptian Muslims remained in Jerusalem.
Edict of Gülhane, issued by Abdülmecid I, lifted the restrictions against non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman Empire as part of the Tanzimat (reforms) promising, amongst other things, a reform of conscription.
In the 1840s and 1850s, the international powers began a tug-of-war in Palestine as they sought to extend their protection over the country's religious minorities, a struggle carried out mainly through their consular representatives in Jerusalem.
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