Arraba, Galilee

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For other places with similar names, see Araba.
Hebrew transcription(s)
 • Hebrew עַרָבָּה, עראבה
 • ISO 259 ʕarrabba
 • Also spelled Arrabe (official)
'Arraba-Batuf (unofficial)
Arabic transcription(s)
 • Arabic عرّابة
Arraba is located in Israel
Coordinates: 32°51′2″N 35°20′20″E / 32.85056°N 35.33889°E / 32.85056; 35.33889Coordinates: 32°51′2″N 35°20′20″E / 32.85056°N 35.33889°E / 32.85056; 35.33889
District Northern
 • Type Local council (from 1965)
 • Head of Municipality Umar Nassar
 • Total 8,063 dunams (8.063 km2 or 3.113 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 22,229
Name meaning The steppe or plateau of the Buttauf[2]

Arraba (Arabic: عرّابة‎; Hebrew: עַרָבָּה; also known as 'Arrabat al-Battuf) is Israel's fourth largest local council and largest Arab local council. It is located in the Lower Galilee in the North District, to the north of Nazareth and adjacent to Sakhnin and Deir Hanna. Arraba attained local council status in 1965.



Arraba is associated with the Jewish village called Arab, known in Greek as Garaba, mentioned in the Mishnah[3] and the Jerusalem Talmud in the sixteenth chapter of Tractate Shabbat.[4][5]

In the 5th or 6th century CE there were Christians living here, as witnessed by a church whose mosaic floor and inscription have been unearthed.[6][7]

Middle Ages[edit]

In 1250 it was one of the casales (villages) belonging to the Teutonic knights, a Crusader order.[5][8] In the 13th century Arrabah is mentioned by Syrian geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi in his famous work Mu'jam al-Buldān (1224–1228), as a "place in the province of Acca".[9][10]

Throughout history Arraba was mostly an agricultural village depending mainly on the al-Batuf Plain to grow crops. However currently the dependence on agriculture is declining rapidly due to the rise in population, urbanization and a subsequently more modern lifestyle.[citation needed]

Ottoman period[edit]

The village was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 with all of Palestine, and in 1596 Arraba appeared in the tax registers as being in the Nahiya ("Subdistrict") of Tabariyya of the Liwa ("District") of Safad. It had a population of 125 Muslim households and 2 Muslim bachelors, and paid taxes on wheat, barley, summercrops or fruit trees, cotton, and goats or beehives.[11]

At some point in the mid-17th century the Zayadina, an Arab Muslim tribe, immigrated to Arraba. Its sheikh ("chief") later acquired control of the town and its district after wresting control of the area from the Druze sheikh of Sallama. Sallama and other Druze villages in the vicinity were subsequently destroyed, Druze suzerainty over the Shaghur district came to an end and the Zayadina consequently gained significant influence in the area, including the role of tax collector of Shaghur on behalf of the Ottoman wali ("governor") of Sidon Province.[12] Arraba became home to Dhaher el-Omar, a later sheikh of the Zayadina tribe. According to local legend, he sought refuge there after killing a Turkish soldier. He won the support of the local sheikh, Muhammad Nasser, by helping him settle a score with a neighboring village, which set off a series of campaigns that led to the conquest of the entire Galilee. A building said to be the home of el-Omar is still standing.[13]

French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village in the 1870s, and found it to have 900 Muslim inhabitants and 100 Greek-Orthodox Christians.[14] In the 1881 "Survey of Western Palestine", Arrabet al Buttauf was described as "A large stone-built village, containing about 1,000 Moslems and Christians, and surrounded by groves of olives and arable land. Water is obtained from a large birkeh and cisterns. This was the place where Dhaher el Amr´s family was founded, and was long occupied by them."[15]

British rule[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Arrabeh had a population of 984, 937 Muslim and 47 Christian.[16] At the time of the 1931 census, Arraba had 253 occupied houses and a population of 1187 Muslims and 37 Christians.[17]

In 1945 the population was 1,800 Arabs with 30,852 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey.[18] 3,290 dunams were used for plantations and irrigable land, 14,736 dunams for cereals,[19] while 140 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[20]

State of Israel[edit]

House of the family of Zahir al-'Umar

In 1948, during Operation Hiram (October 29–31), the town surrendered to the advancing Israeli army. Many of the inhabitants fled but those that remained were not expelled by the Israeli soldiers.[21] The village remained under Martial Law until 1966.

Arraba was home to the first Land Day demonstrations in 1976. Together with Sakhnin and Deir Hanna it forms what is called the triangle of Land Day. Israel's reaction to control the protest was forceful and six people were killed by Israeli police.

On March 11, 1976, the Israeli government published an expropriation plan including lands in the Galilee for official use. It affected some 20,000 dunams of land between the Arab villages of Sakhnin and Arraba.[22] The land was said to be used for security purposes, but was also used to build new Jewish settlements.[23] David McDowall identifies the resumption of land seizures in the Galilee and the acceleration of land expropriations in the West Bank in the mid-1970s as the immediate catalyst for both the Land Day demonstration and similar demonstrations that were taking place contemporaneously in the West Bank. He writes: "Nothing served to bring the two Palestinian communities together politically more than the question of land."[24]

Andrew Petersen, an archaeologist specializing in Islamic architecture, surveyed the place in 1994, and found several interesting buildings.[13] In the 1870s Guerin saw the mosque which he thought had probably once been a church on the basis of its east-west orientation. Inside there were two monolithic columns which he took as further proof of its antiquity.[14] The present mosque was built In 1953 on the site of the older building.[13] Opposite the mosque is a palatial house. It has an ablaq entrance, made of black and white masonry. This is the house associated with the family of Zahir al-'Umar.[13]

Sports and culture[edit]

The symbol of the local council is an onion, a watermelon and a cantaloupe which symbolize the crops for which Arraba is famous.

The town's football club Ahva Arraba, currently play in Liga Leumit, the second tier of Israeli football.

Notable residents[edit]

  • Ali Nassar
  • Asel Asleh
  • Mohammed Karkara, 13 year old boy from Arraba, killed by a Syrian missile fired into Israeli territory on the Golan Heights on June 22, 2014[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Locality File" (XLS). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. 2011. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 124
  3. ^ סדר מועד (Hebrew)
  4. ^ HaReuveni, Immanuel (1999). Lexicon of the Land of Israel. Miskal - Yedioth Ahronoth Books and Chemed Books. p. 779. ISBN 965-448-413-7.  (Hebrew)
  5. ^ a b Conder and Kitchner, 1881, p. 206
  6. ^ Eliya Ribak (2007). Religious Communities in Byzantine Palestina. Archaeopress. p. 128. 
  7. ^ Dauphin, 1998, p. 715
  8. ^ Ellenblum, 2003, p. 41.
  9. ^ le Strange, 1890, p. 399
  10. ^ Sa'd Sabbagh, Biladuna Filasteen, Vol. 11
  11. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 187
  12. ^ Firro, 1992, p. 45.
  13. ^ a b c d Petersen, 2001, p. 95
  14. ^ a b Guérin, 1880, pp 466-468
  15. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, p. 364
  16. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Acre
  17. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 99
  18. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 40
  19. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 80
  20. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 130
  21. ^ Morris, Benny (1987) The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947-1949. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-33028-9. p.226
  22. ^ Endelman, Todd M. Comparing Jewish societies University of Michigan Press, 1997; p. 292. ISBN 0472065920, 9780472065929
  23. ^ Orly Halpern (March 30, 2006). "Israel's Arabs to Mark Land Day". The Jerusalem Post, English Online Edition. Retrieved 2006-11-01. 
  24. ^ McDowall, David (1990). Palestine and Israel: The Uprising and Beyond (Illustrated, reprint ed.). I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1850432899, 9781850432890. McDowall, 1990, p. 157-158.
  25. ^ At least 10 Syrian soldiers killed in IAF strikes, NGO claims, 06.23.14 Ynet


External links[edit]