|• ISO 259||ʕisp̄íyaˀ|
|• Type||Local council|
|• Total||15,561 dunams (15.561 km2 or 6.008 sq mi)|
|Name meaning||The devious (road)|
Isfiya (Arabic: عسفيا), also known as Ussefiya, is a Druze village and local council in northern Israel. Located on Mount Carmel, it is part of Haifa District. In 2009 it had a population of 25,400. In 2003, the local council was merged with nearby Daliyat al-Karmel to form Carmel City. However, the new city was dissolved in 2008 and the two villages resumed their independent status.
Isfiya was built on the ruins of a Byzantine settlement. Crusader remnants have been found in the village. In 1930, remains of a 5th-century Jewish town, Husifah, were unearthed in Isfiya. Among the finds are a synagogue with a mosaic floor bearing Jewish symbols and the inscription "Peace upon Israel." A cache of 4,500 gold coins were found dating from the Roman period. A building, dating from the second–fourth centuries CE have been excavated, together with ceramics and coins dating from the period.
The Druze came to the village in the early eighteenth century. The inhabitants made their living from olive oil, honey and grapes.
Isfiya was one of only two villages remaining on Mount Carmel after the expulsion of Ibrahim Pasha in 1841. Seventeen other villages disappeared. The villages survival was attributed partly to "the exceptional valour" of the inhabitants, partly to buying protection from a local chief, Akil Agha.
In 1859, the English consul Rogers estimated the population to be 400, who cultivated 20 feddans of land.
In the 1863, H.B. Tristram visited the village, which he described as Druze and Christian, with a Christian Sheikh. Tristam noted that the female costumes in this village were much like those of El Bussah, being either "plain, patched or embroidered in the most fantastic and grotesque shapes".
In 1870, the French explorer Victor Guérin found that the village had six hundred inhabitants, almost all Druze, with the exception of sixty, who belonged to the "Schismatic Greeks". Gardens were grown all around the village. Some houses seemed very old and dated, Guérin surmised from the Middle Ages or even earlier, from the time of the Crusades.
In 1881 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described it as standing "on the highest part of the Carmel watershed, and the highest house was therefore the trigonometrical station on the ridge. It is a moderate-sized village of stone houses, with a well on the south-west. The inhabitants are all Druses. [..] Corn-land and olives surround the land."
At the time of the 1931 census of Palestine, Isfiya had 251 occupied houses and a population of 742 Druzes, 187 Christians, and 176 Muslims. These counts included the smaller localities Damun Farm, Shallala Farm and El Jalama.
In 1945 the population of Isfiya consisted of 1,790 Arabs and the land area was 46,905 dunams, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, 1,103 dunams were designated for plantations and irrigable land, 17,357 for cereals, while 74 dunams were built-up areas.
During the British Mandate for Palestine, the villagers initially supported the Arab Abu Durra gang. However, after local leaders were abducted and murdered, the notables turned to the British, who destroyed the gang. A Druze self-defense force was established that received arms from the British and sometimes coordinated its activities with local Jewish forces.
The tomb of Abu Abdallah is located in Isfiya. Abu Abdullah was one of three religious leaders chosen by Caliph Al-Hakem in 996 CE to proclaim the Druze faith. He is said to have been the first Druze religious judge (qadi). The Druze make an annual visit to this shrine on November 15.
- Palmer, 1881, p. 109
- Astrology and Judaism in Late Antiquity: Husifa
- Druze Jewish Virtual Library
- Oren, 2008, ‘Isfiya
- Dan Barag (1979). "A new source concerning the ultimate borders of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem". Israel Exploration Journal 29. pp. 197–217.
- Tristram, 1865, p. 112
- Conder and Kitchner, 1881, p. 282
- Tristram, 1865, pp 111- 114
- Weir, 1989, p. 80, citing Tristram, 1865, p. 68
- Guérin, 1875, p.248-249
- Conder and Kitchner, 1881, p. 281 -282
- E. Mills, ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine. p. 92.
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 48
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 90
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 140
- Druze and Jews
- The Abu Abdullah Shrine in Isfiya Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Isfiya.|
- 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.
- Guérin, Victor (1875). Description Géographique Historique et Archéologique de la Palestine. Vol 2 Samarie, pt. 2.
- Hadawi, Sami (1970). Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine. Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center.
- Mills, E., ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine.
- Oren, Eliran (2008): ‘Isfiya, final report, Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel, Journal 120
- 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.
- Tristram, H.B. (1865). Land of Israel, A Journal of travel in Palestine, undertaken with special reference to its physical character. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
- Alternative: Tristram, H.B. (1882). Land of Israel, A Journal of travel in Palestine, undertaken with special reference to its physical character, 4th ed. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. (Isfiya: p. 107- 111
- Weir, Shelagh (1989). Palestinian Costume. British Museum Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-7141-2517-2.