1870 map of al-Ghabisiyya, northeast of Acre.
|Name meaning||from ghabus, "dusky, ashen, grey"|
|Also spelled||El Ghabsiyeh|
|Date of depopulation||May 1948, 1949|
|Cause(s) of depopulation||Expulsion by Yishuv forces|
|Current localities||Netiv HaShayara|
Al-Ghabisiyya' was a Palestinian Arab village in northern Palestine, 16 km north-east of Acre in present-day Israel. It was depopulated by the Israel Defense Forces during the 1948-1950 period and remains deserted.
A winepress, dating to the Bronze age, has been found at Al-Ghabisiyya. Other remains, suggesting that the place might have had a Roman and Byzantine settlement have also been discovered. One Corinthian capital was observed there in the 19th century.
According to Hütteroth, Abdulfattah and Petersen, the village probably corresponds to that of Ghabiyya in the nahiya (subdistrict) of Akka, in the Liwa (sanjak) of Safad, in a 1596 C.E. Ottoman daftar (tax register). This village had a population of 58 households (khana) and 2 bachelors (mujarrad), all Moslem. It paid taxes on wheat, barley, fruit trees, cotton, and water buffalo.
The village mosque dates from the time of Ali Pasha, father of Abdallah Pasha (i.e. some time before 1818 C.E.). This according to Victor Guérin, who visited the place (which he called El-Rhabsieh) in the 1875, and described it.
In 1881, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described al-Ghabisiyya as "a village, built of stone, containing about 150 Moslems, on the edge of the plain, surrounded by olives, figs, pomegranate and gardens; a stream of water near, plentiful of water."
British Mandate era
At the time of the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate, Al-Ghabisiyya had a population of 427, all Muslims, increasing in the 1931 census to 470, still Muslims, in a total of 125 houses.
The population grew to 690 in 1945, still all Muslim. Together with the nearby villages of Shaykh Dannun and Shaykh Dawud, the village had 11,771 dunums of land in 1945. The local economy was based on livestock and agriculture. In 1944/45 a total of 6,633 dunums of land in the three villages was used for cereals, 1,371 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards, and 58 dunams were built-up (urban) land. 300 dunums in Ghabisiyya were planted with olive trees.
1948 war, and expulsion
The village was in the territory allotted to the Arab state under the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Like many Arab villages, it had a non-aggression pact with nearby Jewish communities. In the early months of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the villagers provided the Jewish militia Haganah with intelligence and ammunition in return for an agreement to not enter the village or harm the inhabitants. On the other hand, some of the villagers joined in the March 1948 attack on the Jewish convoy to kibbutz Yehiam in which 47 Haganah soldiers were killed.
On May 21, 1948, the Haganah's Carmeli Brigade captured al-Ghabisiyya during Operation Ben-Ami. The village formally surrendered, but the Carmeli troops "entered the village with guns blazing", killing several inhabitants. Six villagers who were thought to have taken part in the attack on the Yehiam convoy were apparently then executed.
The villagers fled or were expelled to nearby villages, where they remained until the complete Jewish conquest of the Galilee in October. At that time, many of the residents went to Lebanon while others fled to nearby Arab towns and became Israeli citizens due to their registration in the October–November census. The latter tried repeatedly to settle back in their village. Some apparently obtained permission but others went back illegally. On January 24, 1950, the Military Governor of the Galilee ordered all the residents of al-Ghabisiyya to leave within 48 hours and then declared the village a closed military area. No alternative accommodation had been arranged, and the villagers took up temporary residence in abandoned houses of nearby Shaykh Dawud and Sheikh Danun.
The expulsion caused a public controversy. The leaders of the leftist Mapam party condemned it, but they were undermined by the Mapam-dominated regional Jewish settlements bloc (one Mapam kibbutz of which was already cultivating al-Ghabisiyya's land) which declared that the "Arabs of Ghabisiyya should on no account be allowed to return to their village". In September 1950, some of the villagers again resettled the village but were sentenced to several months in prison and given fines.
In 1951, the villagers instituted proceedings against the Military Government in the High Court of Israel. The court ruled that the declaration of the village as a closed area had been improperly instituted, and in consequence "the military governor had no authority to evict the petitioners [from the village] and he has no authority to prevent them from entering or leaving it or from residing there." The military government responded by sealing the village, and two days later again declared it to be a closed military area. The villagers appealed to the High Court again, but the court ruled that the new declaration was legal and in consequence villagers who had not managed to return to the village before that declaration (which in practice was all of them) were forbidden to go there without permission.
The village thus remained deserted. Its lands were officially expropriated and in 1955 its houses were demolished leaving only the large mosque. Later attempts of the villagers to return to the village were not successful.
The villagers set up a committee whose principal activity was to renovate the village cemetery and mosque, and in July 1972 the committee wrote to the prime minister:
In the village a mosque and the cemetery remain.... The mosque is in a run-down state and the cemetery, where our relatives are buried, is neglected and overgrown with weeds to such an extent that it is impossible to identify the graves any more. Knowing that our state authorities have always taken care of the places of worship and cemeteries of all the ethnic communities,... [we ask] to be enabled to carry out repairs on the mosque and also to repair and fence the cemetery and put it in order.
The authorities did not permit this work to be done.
The land of the village, including the mosque, had been acquired by the Israel Land Administration (ILA) under one of the laws regarding land expropriation, and not the Ministry of Religion, which is responsible for holy places.
In 1994 members of the village committee began renovating the mosque and praying there. In January 1996 the ILA sealed the entrance of the mosque, but the villagers broke through the fence and again used the mosque for prayers. The villagers appealed to Prime Minister Shimon Peres in April 1996, they received a reply on his behalf from one of his aides:
"The government of Israel regards itself as obligated to maintain the holy places of all religions, including, of course, cemeteries and mosques sacred to Islam. The prime minister has stated to the heads of the Arab community, with whom he recently met, that the government would see to the renovation and the restoration of the dignety of mosques in abandoned villages, including the mosque in Ghabisiyya."
However, Shimon Peres was defeated in the next prime ministerial elections, and in March 1997 police surrounded the mosque and representatives from ILA removed copies of the Quran and prayer rugs and once again sealed the entrance of the mosque. The conflict was carried to the court in Acre, where the uprooted villagers contended that the government action was contrary to Israel's "Law of Preservation of Holy Places". The ILA challenged the villagers right to pray there, and used the illegal eviction of 1951 and the demolition of the village in 1955 as arguments to bolster its claim:
"The village of Ghabisiyya was abandoned by its inhabitants and destroyed during the War for Independence".... [the mosque..had stood].."lonely and neglected"..."and since it was in a run-down and unstable state that constituted a threat to the safety of those inside it, it was decided by the Ministry of Religions to seal it and fence it off."
The court declined to issue an injunction permitting worshippers back into the mosque. The Ghabisiyya villagers still pray in the field outside the sealed mosque.
- List of Arab towns and villages depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
- List of villages depopulated during the Arab-Israeli conflict
- Internally Displaced Palestinians
- Palmer, 1881, p. 42
- Morris, 2004, p. xvii, village #84. Also gives causes of depopulation
- Karmon, 1960, p. 160
- Gosker, 2012, El-Ghabisiya
- Thompson et al, 1988, p. 36. Cited in Petersen, 2001, p.140
- Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 168
- Strehlke, 1869, pp. 84-85, No. 105; cited in Röhricht, 1893, RRH, p. 318, No. 1208; cited in Frankel, 1988, p. 264
- Röhricht, 1893, RRH, p. 328, No. 1250; cited in Frankel, 1988, p. 264; cited in Petersen, 2001, p. 140
- Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 194. Petersen, 2001, p. 140
- Note that Rhode, 1979, p. 6 writes that the register that Hütteroth and Abdulfattah studied was not from 1595/6, but from 1548/9
- Karmon, 1960, p. 160.
- Guérin, 1880, pp. 30-31, quoted in Petersen, 2001, p. 140
- Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 145, cited in Khalidi, 1992, pp. 13-14
- Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Acre, p. 36
- Mills, 1932, p. 100
- Village Statistics April 1945, The Palestine Government, p. 2
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 40
- Khalidi, 1992, pp. 13-14
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 80
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 130
- Benvenisti, 2000, p. 140
- Benvenisti, 2000, p. 140; Morris, 2004, pp. 515-516.
- Morris, 2004, pp. 515-516; Nazzal, 1974, p. 71.
- Morris, 2004, pp. 515-516; Nazzal, pp. 71-72
- Morris, 2004, p. 254
- Nazzal, 1974, p72; Morris, 2004, p516.
- Morris, 2004, p516.
- Morris, 2004, p516; Jiryis, 1973, p93
- Morris, 2004, p516; Benvenisti, 2000, p. 140
- Jiryis, 1973, pp93-94; Benvenisti, 2000, p. 140; HC reference 220/51 of November 30, 1951.
- Jiryis, 1973, p94; HC references 288/51 and 33/52.
- Benvenisti, p. 140
- Davar, June 7, 1970, cited in Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1972, p147.
- Benvenisti, 2000, p. 294; Appendix to civil case file, Acre Magistrate's Court, file 2085/97.
- Benvenisti, 2000, p. 294; Letter dated 26 May 1996, signed by Benny Shiloh, head of the Minorities Section.
- Benvenisti, 2000, p. 295; Appendix to civil case file, Acre Magistrate's Court, file 2085/97.
- Benvenisti, 2000, p. 295
- Barron, J. B., ed. (1923). Palestine: Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1922 (PDF). Government of Palestine.
- Benveniśtî, Mêrôn (2000). Sacred landscape: the buried history of the Holy Land since 1948 (Illustrated ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21154-5. p. 337
- Conder, Claude Reignier; Kitchener, Herbert H. (1881). The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology 1. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Frankel, Rafael (1988). "Topographical notes on the territory of Acre in the Crusader period". Israel Exploration Journal 38 (4): 249–272.
- Gosker, Joppe (2012-03-26), El-Ghabisiya l Report (124), Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel
- Guérin, Victor (1880). Description Géographique Historique et Archéologique de la Palestine (in French). 3: Galilee, pt. 2. Paris: L'Imprimerie Nationale.
- Hadawi, Sami (1970). Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine. Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center.
- Hütteroth, Wolf-Dieter; Abdulfattah, Kamal (1977). Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft. ISBN 3-920405-41-2.
- Jiryis, Sabri (1973), The Legal Structure for the Expropriation and Absorption of Arab Lands in Israel, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 2, No. 4, 82-104.
- Karmon, Y. (1960). "An Analysis of Jacotin's Map of Palestine" (PDF). Israel Exploration Journal 10 (3,4): 155–173; 244–253.
- Khalidi, Walid (1992). All That Remains. Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies. ISBN 0-88728-224-5.
- Mills, E., ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas (PDF). Jerusalem: Government of Palestine.
- Morris, Benny (2004). The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-00967-6.
- Nazzal, Nafez (1974), The Zionist occupation of western Galilee, 1948, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 3, No. 3, 58-76.
- Palmer, E. H. (1881). The Survey of Western Palestine: Arabic and English Name Lists Collected During the Survey by Lieutenants Conder and Kitchener, R. E. Transliterated and Explained by E.H. Palmer. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Petersen, Andrew (2001). A Gazetteer of Buildings in Muslim Palestine (British Academy Monographs in Archaeology) 1. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-727011-0.
- Rhode, Harold (1979). Administration and Population of the Sancak of Safed in the Sixteenth Century. Columbia University.
- Röhricht, Reinhold (1893). (RRH) Regesta regni Hierosolymitani (MXCVII-MCCXCI) (in Latin). Berlin: Libraria Academica Wageriana.
- Strehlke, Ernst, ed. (1869). Tabulae Ordinis Theutonici ex tabularii regii Berolinensis codice potissimum. Berlin: Weidmanns.
- Thompson, T. l., Goncalves, F. J., and Van Cangh, J. M., (1988), Toponymie Palestinienne: Plaine de St. Jean d´Acre et corridor de Jerusalem, Publications de l´institut orientaliste de Louvain, 37, Louvain-la-Neuve. Cited in Petersen, (2001).
- Welcome to al-Ghabisiyya
- Survey of Western Palestine, Map 3: IAA, Wikimedia commons
- al Gabisiyya, from Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre
- Al-Ghabsiyyeh photos, from Dr. Moslih Kanaaneh
- A visit to Al-Ghabisiyya village 12.04.02. Writing and photos by Norma Mossi, Translated by Gali Reich, from Zochrot (alternative link to the article here:)
- The Nakba day in Al-Ghabisiyya village Writing and photos by David Sagi, Translated by Gali Reich, from Zochrot, 2003
- Not Next Year, Not in Jerusalem Israeli Palestinians – and My Family’s – Desire to Return Home by Rebecca Yael Bak, New Voices, March/April 2006 (Vol. 14, Issue 4)
- Overview: Palestinian Internally Displaced Persons inside Israel from BADIL Resource Center 6 November 2002