|Name meaning||from personal name|
|Date of depopulation||October 30, 1948|
|Cause(s) of depopulation||Military assault by Yishuv forces|
Alma (Arabic: علما) was a Palestinian Arab village in the Safad Subdistrict, Mandatory Palestine. It was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War on October 30, 1948 during Operation Hiram. It was located 10 km north of Safad.
Alma was situated in the heart of upper Galilee in the middle of a fertile plain, about 4 km south of the Lebanese border. The Crusaders called the village "Alme." Several ancient ruins remain and three inscribed architectural fragments in Hebrew and Aramaic from an ancient synagogue were found on the surface of the village site between 1914 and 1957. While travelling though the region in the 12th century CE, Benjamin of Tudela noted that Alma contained fifty Jewish inhabitants and, "a large cemetery of the Israelites."
Remains of a ruined watch-tower was found on the crest of the ridge, and a quarter of a mile south of those there were three perfect dolmens, not very large.
At the beginning of the period of Ottoman rule over Palestine, an Italian traveller to Alma in 1523 noted that there were 15 Jewish families there and one synagogue. In the Ottoman tax registers of 1596, the village is listed as forming part of the nahiya ("subdistrict") of Jira in the liwa' ("district") of Safad. It had a relatively large population of 1,440, consisting of 288 Muslim households and 140 Muslim bachelors, together with seven Jewish households and one Jewish bachelor. The village paid taxes on goats, beehives, a water-powered mill, and a press that was used for processing olives or grapes. Total tax revenue amounted to a substantial 51,100 akce. Alma's prosperity was attributed to its close proximity to Safad.
The village was totally destroyed in the earthquake of January 1837. Edward Robinson and Eli Smith, who travelled to the region in 1838, give the full name of the village as 'Alma el-Khait (Arabic: علماالخيط).
James Finn, the British consul to Jerusalem who travelled around Palestine between 1853 and 1856, describes the village of Alma as being situated in an area in which volcanic basalt was abundant. Around the village, women and children were gathering olives from the trees by beating them with poles and then collecting the fallen fruit. He notes that the small district in which the village is located is known by the locals as "the Khait" (Arabic for "string") and that they, "boast of its extraordinary fertility in corn-produce."
Victor Guérin visited in 1875, and noted that 200 Muslim inhabitants lived there. In The Survey of Western Palestine (1881), Alma is described as a village built of stone with about 250 "Algerine Mohammedan" residents, situated in the middle of a fertile plain with a few gardens.
British Mandate period
The villagers were heavily involved in agriculture, including raising livestock and growing crops, particularly grain and fruit and their orchards were concentrated on the northern and northwestern outskirts of the village. During the 1942/43 season olive trees were recorded as being grown on 750 dunums of village land, making it the largest area devoted to olive growing in the whole district of Safad. The trees in 550 dunums were bearing fruit. In 1944-45 some 983 dunums was irrigated or used for orchards and a total of 7,475 dunums was allocated to cereal farming.
The village comprised a total area of 19,498 dunums of which 17,240 dunums was run by Arabs and the rest public. The population of the village was entirely Arab in ethnicity and Muslim in religion. They had their own mosque as well as an elementary school, which pupils from al-Rihaniyya also attended.
A large number of inhabitants were employed in cereal farming, which occupied about 38% of the land area. Some land was also allocated for irrigation and plantation, and the growing of olives.
The land ownership of the village before occupation in dunums:
1948 war and aftermath
The village was attacked by the Israeli forces in Operation Hiram on 30 October 1948. Israeli historian Benny Morris has documented that Alma was the one village in the area where the villagers were uprooted and/or expelled by the Israeli forces, in spite of the fact that they had not offered any resistance.
Today Alma is a fenced-in site and the rubble remains of the houses which are covered in thorny grasses. Israeli farmers still cultivate fruit and olives there.
- Palmer, pp. 66, 17, 61
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 69
- Morris, 2004, p. xvi, village #33. Also gives cause of depopulation
- Morris, 2004, p. xxii, settlement #162.
- Khalidi, 1992, pp. 432-433.
- Benjamin of Tudela in Wright, 2003, p. 89.
- Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 220
- Schwarz, 1850, p. 385.
- Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 177
- Petersen, 2005, p. 133.
- Note that Rhode, 1979, p. 6 writes that the register that Hütteroth and Abdulfattah studied was not from 1595/6, but from 1548/9
- Petersen, 2005, p. 42.
- Nicholas N. Ambraseys (1997). "The earthquake of 1 January 1837 in Southern Lebanon and Northern Israel". Annali di Geofisica XL (4): 923–935.
- Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, Second Appendix, p. 134.
- Finn, 1877, p. 108
- Guérin, 1880, pp. 445-6
- Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p.196. Also quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 432.
- Barron, 1923, Table XI; Mills, 1932, p. 105
- Khalidi, 1992, p. 432
- United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, Village Statistics, April 1945, p. 4
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 118
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 168
- Morris, 2004, p. 475
- Barron, J. B., ed. (1923). Palestine: Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1922. Government of Palestine.
- Benjamin of Tudela (2003). Thomas Wright, ed. Early Travels in Palestine (Illustrated ed.). Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-42871-0.
- Conder, Claude Reignier; Kitchener, H. H. (1881). The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology 1. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund. (p. 205)
- Dauphin, Claudine (1998). La Palestine byzantine, Peuplement et Populations. BAR International Series 726 (in French). III : Catalogue. Oxford: Archeopress. (p. 647)
- Finn, James (1877). Byeways in Palestine 1. London: James Nisbet & Co.
- 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.
- Khalidi, Walid (1992). All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948. 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. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine.
- Morris, Benny (2004). The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-00967-6.
- 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 (2005). The Towns of Palestine Under Muslim Rule. British Archaeological Reports. ISBN 1841718211.
- Robinson, Edward; Smith, Eli (1841). Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai and Arabia Petraea: A Journal of Travels in the year 1838 3. Boston: Crocker & Brewster.
- Rhode, Harold (1979). Administration and Population of the Sancak of Safed in the Sixteenth Century. Columbia University.
- Schwarz, Rabbi Joseph (1850). A descriptive geography and brief historical sketch of Palestine. Isaac Leeser. Philadelphia: A. Hart.
- Welcome To 'Alma
- SWP map IV, IAA
- SWP map 4, Wikimedia commons
- 'Alma at Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center
- 'Alma, Dr. Khalil Rizk.