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Achziv IMG 5320.JPG
Remains of the village: mukhtar's home, now museum of Akhzivland.
Az-Zeeb is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic الزيب
Name meaning "Trickster"
Also spelled l-Zib, al-Zaib, Achzib[1]
Subdistrict Acre
Coordinates 33°02′53.09″N 35°06′06.02″E / 33.0480806°N 35.1016722°E / 33.0480806; 35.1016722Coordinates: 33°02′53.09″N 35°06′06.02″E / 33.0480806°N 35.1016722°E / 33.0480806; 35.1016722
Palestine grid 160/272
Population 1,910 (1945)
Area 12,440 dunams
12.4 km²
Date of depopulation May 14, 1948[2]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Gesher HaZiv,[3] Sa'ar,[4]
For the Israeli national park see Achziv. For the self-proclaimed micronation see Akhzivland.

Az-Zeeb or al-Zib (Arabic: الزيب‎) was a Palestinian Arab village located 13.5 kilometers (8.4 mi) north of Acre on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Mentioned in the Bible by its ancient name Achzib, evidence of human settlement at the site dates back to the 18th century BCE. By the 10th century BCE, it was a prosperous and fortified Phoenician town. Conquered by the Assyrian empire in the 8th century BCE, it was subsequently ruled by the Persians. During the rule of the Roman Empire, it was known as Ecdippa. Arab geographers were referring to it as az-Zeeb by the early Middle Ages.

In 1146 the Crusaders established there a settlement protected by a castle and named casale Huberti[5] or Casal Humberti, after Hubert of Pacy which held the casale and is documented in 1108.[6] There are descriptions of the castle and village by Arab chroniclers in the 12th and 13th centuries, just prior to and during the rule of the Mamluks in the region. The Arab name of the village was az-Zeeb. Incorporated into the Ottoman empire in the early 16th century, by its end it formed part of the subdistrict of Akka. Its inhabitants cultivated various crops and raised livestock on which they paid taxes to the Ottoman authorities.

At the time of the British Mandate in Palestine, most of the families in az-Zeeb made their living from fishing and agriculture, particularly fruit cultivation. Just before the official end to Mandate rule on May 14, 1948, az-Zeeb was attacked by captured by the Haganah's Carmeli Brigade. The town was depopulated and razed to the ground. The Israeli localities of Sa'ar and Gesher HaZiv were established on the village lands in 1948 and 1949. A domed mosque from the village has since been restored and serves as a tourist site, and the house of the last mukhtar is now a museum.


The Arabic name of the village, Az-Zeeb is a shortened form of the site's original ancient Canaanite/Phoenician name, Achzib.[7] Achzib is mentioned in the Book of Joshua (19:29) and Book of Judges (1:31) as a town that became of the Asher tribe, though archaeological evidence indicates that it was Phoenician.[7]

Human settlement at the site dates to as early as the 18th century BCE, and by the 10th century BCE it was a walled town.[8] A tel in Az-Zeeb excavated between 1941–44 and 1959-1964 found evidence of settlement from the Middle Bronze Age II, through the Roman period and the Early Middle Ages.[7]

Positioned on a passage between the plain of Akko and the city of Tyre, Achzib was an important road station.[7] Between the 10th and 6th centuries BCE, it was a properous town, with public buildings and tombs with Phoenician inscriptions, attesting to the identity of its inhabitants at the time.[7] Conquered by the Assyrians in 701 BCE and listed in Sennacherib's annals as Ak-zi-bi, the continuation of Phoenician settlement through this period and during the decline endured during the Persian period, is evidenced in 5th and 4th century BCE Phoenician inscriptions that were found at the site.[7] Also mentioned in the writings of Pseudo-Scylax, the site likely regained some importance in Hellenistic times. During the Roman period, the imperial authorities called it Ecdippa. By the Early Middle Ages, Arab geographers were referring to the area as Az-Zeeb.[7]

Built remains of az-Zeeb

With the arrival of the Crusaders in 1099, the village was reestablished as "Casal Imbertia" or "Lambertie".[9] European farmers settled there in 1153 under Baldwin III. Arab geographer Ibn Jubayr toured Palestine in 1182 and mentioned az-Zeeb as a large fortress with a village and adjoining lands between Acre and Tyre." Under Mamluk rule, in 1226, Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi described az-Zeeb as a large village on the coast whose name was also pronounced "az-Zaib".[10] In 1232 it was the site of the Battle of Casal Imbert between German and French Crusaders as part of the War of the Lombards.

Ottoman era[edit]

In the early 16th century, az-Zeeb was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire, and by 1596, it was a village in the nahiya ("subdistrict") of Akka, part of Sanjak Safad. It paid taxes on several agricultural items including, wheat, barley, "summer crops", fruits, cotton, beehives, goats, and water buffalo.[11] The 18th century Islamic judge and scholar Abu al-Ali az-Zibi was born in the village. A map by Pierre Jacotin from Napoleon's invasion of 1799 showed the village, named as Zib.[12]

British traveler James Silk Buckingham describes az-Zeeb in the early 19th century as a small town built on a hill near the sea with few palm trees rising above its houses.[13][14] During the period of Egyptian rule in Palestine, the sheikh of az-Zeeb, Said al-Sabi, joined the 1834 peasants' rebellion against governor Ibrahim Pasha. He was arrested and exiled to Egypt by the authorities in the summer of that year because of his participation.[15]

By the late 19th century, most of the village houses were built of stone, a mosque and a clinic had been established, and the residents cultivated olives, figs, mulberries, and pomegranates.[16] In 1882, the Ottomans established an elementary school in az-Zeeb.[17]

British Mandate era[edit]

az-Zeeb and its beach, 1928

Az-Zeeb became a part of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922. During the period of British rule, the main economic sectors in the village were fishing and agriculture, particularly fruit cultivation, including bananas, citrus, olives, and figs. There were four olive presses: two mechanized and two animal-drawn. Between 1927 and 1945, the village's annual fish catch was 16 metric tons.[17]

1948 War[edit]

Just prior to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, on May 14, 1948, az-Zeeb was captured by the Haganah's Carmeli Brigade, being one of the main places targeted in Operation Ben-Ami. According to Haganah accounts, the residents immediately "fled upon the appearance of Jewish forces, and the Haganah command decided to hold on to [it]." However, Israeli historian Benny Morris states that the Haganah had a "long account" with az-Zeeb because it was a center of Arab resistance and that most of the inhabitants fled after the village was hit with a mortar barrage by the Haganah.[17] Morris also writes that two IDF companies reported in mid-May 1948 that they were "attacking al Zib with the aim of blowing up the village".[18]

Eyewitness accounts from among the villagers indicate that they mistook the incoming Israeli forces for Arab reinforcements because they had donned red and white keffiyehs, and that these forces quickly overwhelmed the local militia of 35-40 men. Many of the inhabitants fled to Lebanon or nearby villages, but many also remained in az-Zeeb until they were relocated by the Israeli authorities to the Arab coastal town of Mazra'a. Carmeli Brigade Commander Moshe Carmel ordered az-Zeeb to be razed to the ground to "punish" the villagers and ensure they could not return.[19] Villagers later complained that the Haganah had (as in Sumeiriya and al-Bassa) "molested or violated" a number of women.[20][21]

The beach in Az-Zeeb (presently known as Achziv national park) in modern times

According to Walid Khalidi,

All that remains of the village is the mosque, which has been restored for tourism, and the house of the mukhtar (the village head) Husayn Ataya, which is now a museum. The house is relatively large and made of masonry. The stone mosque has a dome and a large decorative arch on the front facade.[17]


According to Ottoman imperial records, az-Zeeb had a population of 875 in 1596, decreasing to about 400 in the late 19th century. In the British Mandate census in 1931,[8] there were 1,059 people living in the town, nearly doubling by the 1945 population survey by Sami Hadawi to 1,910 inhabitants.[22] In 1931, there were 251 houses in az-Zeeb.[8] The projected population in 1948 was 2,216, and Palestinian refugees of az-Zeeb and their descendants were estimated to number 13,606 in 1998.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. p.60
  2. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xvii, village #79. Also gives the cause for depopulation
  3. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xxi, settlement #54. January 1949
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xxi, settlement #18. August 1948
  5. ^ Denys Pringle (2009). az-Zib. Secular Buildings in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: An Archaeological Gazetteer (Cambridge University Press). p. 110, No. 237. ISBN 9780521102636. az-Zib. Cr. "Casel Imbert, casale Huberti de Paci, Casale Lamberti, Castellum Ziph, Qasale Imbert/Siph"; Hebr. Akhziv"" 
  6. ^ Murray, Alan, The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: A Dynastic History 1099-1125 (Unit for Prosopographical Research, Linacre College, Oxford, 2000) p. 210.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Lipinski, 2004, pp. 302-3.
  8. ^ a b c Khalidi, 1992, p.35.
  9. ^ Mazar, Eilat. Achziv. Institute of Archeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  10. ^ Ibn Jubayr and al-Hamawi quoted in le Strange, 1890, p.555.
  11. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah p.190, quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p.35.
  12. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 160.
  13. ^ Buckingham, 1821, p.62
  14. ^ Buckingham, 1821, pp.63-64, quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p.36.
  15. ^ Rustum, 1938, p. 70.
  16. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p.148. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 36
  17. ^ a b c d Khalidi, 1992, p.36.
  18. ^ Morris, 2004, p347
  19. ^ Nazzal, pp.55-57, quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p.36.
  20. ^ Morris, 2004, p253
  21. ^ Benvenisti (2000), p. 139
  22. ^ Hadawi, Sami. (1970). Acre District Statistics p.40.
  23. ^ Welcome to al-Zeeb Palestine Remembered.


External links[edit]