|Also spelled||Quaquo, Caco, Chaco, Kâkôn, Kakoun|
|Date of depopulation||5 June 1948|
|Cause(s) of depopulation||Military assault by Yishuv forces|
|Current localities||HaMa'apil, Gan Yoshiya, Ometz, ´Olesh, Haniel, Yikon|
Evidence of organized settlement in Qaqun dates back to the period of Assyrian rule in the region, and it was continuously inhabited by Arabs since at least as early as the Mamluk period. Qaqun was depopulated during a military assault by Israeli forces during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Ancient and classical
Assyrian artifacts have been discovered in Qaqun. Among these are fragments of stelae recording the victory of Sargon II over the Philistine city-states in the 8th century BC, providing evidence of the establishment of Assyrian rule in Palestine.
In the 1st century AD, Antipas, like others close to the Herodians who ruled over parts of the region at the time, was granted dominion over large areas of land. One of the gifts (doreai) he received was a parcel of land located in the Plain of Sharon which included Qaqun, among other villages.
In the Crusader period, a castle called Caco or Cacho was here, of which an 8.5m tower survives. It was mentioned in 1123 when it apparently still was held by the lord of Caesarea, John Aleman, in 1253. In 1160, Benjamin of Tudela visited Qaqun which he identified as being ancient Keilah.
Qaqun was captured by the Mamluk sultan Ruqn al-Din Baybars (1259–1277) in 1267. Under Mamluk rule, Qaqun was the capital of one of six districts that made up the province of as-Sham, the Mamluk administrative unit for a part of the governorship of "Mamlakat Gaza", one of the region's three Mamluk administrative governorships, the other two being "Mamlakat Dimashq" (Damascus) and "Mamlakat Zafad" (Safed). Qaqun and also Lyyda appeared to be independent provinces later in this period. Baybars had ordered its fortress rebuilt and had its church renovated and made into a mosque. Its markets were re-established, and it soon became a commercial center with a caravanserai for merchants, travelers, and their animals. While early scholarship often attributed the construction of the fortress to Crusaders, both the fortress and mosque at Qaqun are now thought to have built during the reign of Baybars, who also built the administrative center and large market there.
At the end of the 13th century, the Via Maris was moved eastward inland to improve the line of defence since Palestine's coastal cities were the first to fall to competing powers seeking to expand their domain. The route followed the coast of the Sinai, passing through Al-Arish, Rafah, Khan Yunis, and Gaza. There, a branch then turned eastward to Jerusalem, onto Hebron while another passed through Beit Hanoun to Ramlah through Daris and continued north to Lydda, through Jaljulia and Tira to the center of Qaqun. From Qaqun, the route branched into two, one leading to Jenin and the other to Wadi Ara. Many of these places were villages that had khans constructed in them in the 14th century. The khan in Qaqun was built on the orders of Mamluk governor Sanjar al-Jawli in 1315, and under Mamluk rule, khans like the one in Qaqun were used by couriers on horseback, forming part of the postal network on the Gaza-Damascus road. Al-Qalqasandi (d .1418) mentioned Qaqun as a pleasant, though not particularly prosperous town, with a mosque, a bath, a handsome fort, and wells.
During early Ottoman rule in Palestine, the revenues of the village of Qaqun were in 1557 designated for the new waqf of Hasseki Sultan Imaret in Jerusalem, established by Hasseki Hurrem Sultan (Roxelana), the wife of Suleiman the Magnificent. By 1596, Qaqun was the center of the nahiya (subdistrict) of Qaqun under the liwa' (district) of Nablus and it had a population of 127. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat and barley, as well as on goats and beehives.
During Napoleon Bonaparte's Campaign in 1799, Napoleon's forces defeated the Ottoman troops who had been sent to Qaqun to stop their advance towards Acre. In the 1830s, the inhabitants of Qanqun participated in the revolt against Egypt, and was thence destroyed by the army of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt during his Syrian campaign (1832–1840).
In the late 19th century, Qaqun was described as a large village built around the central tower of the Crusader/Mamluk fort. Its houses, built of stone and mud, were dispersed over the surface of a hill. There was arable land in the surrounding area. Claude R. Conder writes of there being a Crusader era tower in Qaqun during his visit there.
British Mandate rule
In 1944/45 a total of 713 dunums were used for citrus and bananas, while 34,376 dunums were allocated to cereals; 210 additional dunums were irrigated or used for orchards, of which 80 dunums were planted with olive trees.
Just prior to the 1948 war, in addition to the mosque and fortress, Qaqun also housed of an elementary school for boys and hundreds of homes for its more than 2,000 inhabitants. The village families were made up of the al-Hafi, Abu-Hantash, Matrouk and al-Shaykh Ghanem clans.
|Battle of Qaqun|
|Part of 1948 Arab-Israeli War|
War Memorial of Alexandroni Brigade in Qaqun
|IDF (Alexandroni Brigade)||Iraq, Arab irregulars|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Col. Dan Even (Alexandroni Brigade)
Ben Zion Ziv (33rd Battalion)
|Reinforced battalion||Iraqi regulars, 200 irregulars|
|Casualties and losses|
Qaqun was the victim of a "hit-and-run" raid carried out by the Irgun Zvai Leumi on 6 March 1948, according to the History of the Haganah. No further details are provided by this source, but the Palestinian newspaper Filastin reported an attack on the morning of 7 March. Quoting a communiqué issued by Palestinian militia forces, the paper said that the large attacking unit failed to penetrate the village, and that it threw a number of grenades which wounded two women.
On the 9th May 1948 the Alexandroni Arab affairs experts decided on a meeting in Netanya, in preparation for the declaration of Israeli statehood and the expected pan-Arab invasion, to immediately "expel or subdue" the inhabitants of the Palestinian villages of Kafr Saba, al Tira, Qaqun, Qalansuwa, and Tantura. The final operational order did not say what was to be done with the inhabitants, but repeatedly spoke of "cleaning" or "clearing" the village.
After the establishment of the State of Israel and the outbreak of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, regular Iraqi forces entrenched in the Triangle region threatened to cut Israeli-controlled territory in half by capturing Netanya. An Iraqi attack was repelled on 29 May 1948, when Israeli forces successfully defended the villages Ein Vered, Kfar Yabetz and Geulim. Arab attacks originated in Ras al-Ein, Tira, Qalansawe and Qaqun, and the capture of any of these was deemed likely to bring to an end the Iraqi effort in the Netanya area.
Qaqun was chosen as the target of an Israeli offensive, and on 5 June at 04:00, the 33rd Battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade attacked the village. A frontal assault was conducted on the Iraqi headquarters to the north of the village, after the nearby mill was cleared. The Israel Defense Forces were only able to clear the village during the day, and used reinforcements from the 32nd Battalion at Ein HaHoresh, which flanked the Arab forces from the south. Iraqi counter-attacks from Kalansawe and Tulkarem lasted until nightfall, with both sides bombing each other's positions from the air. Israeli forces were able to hold on to the village and put an end to Iraqi advances on the coastal plain. Alexandroni suffered 16 casualties and by their estimate the entire Iraqi battalion was wiped out. According to the Alexandroni memorial website, the Iraqi defeat in the battle is considered its biggest of the war.
However, according to Benny Morris, the attack was preceded by an artillery barrage that precipitated the evacuation of most of Qaqun's inhabitants to nearby groves. And only a few local militiamen and several dozen Iraqi Army soldiers remained to fight and they were rapidly overwhelmed by the Alexandroni infantry.
Two days later, on the 7 June, Joseph Weitz noted Qaqun among the villages which they had to decide as to whether destroy (to prevent the villagers from returning), or renovate and settled with Jews. By December 1948 the IDF General Staff\Operations approved the depopulation of the remaining small border-hugging sites ("khurab") in the Triangle area. It was instructed that "an effort should be made to carry out the eviction [of Arab civilians] without force". But if force proved necessary, the Military Government was authorized to use it. Among the sites evicted was eight in the Qaqun and Gharbiya area.
Kibbutz ha-Ma´pil was built on what had traditionally been village land in 1945, 3 km to the northwest. Three settlements were founded on village land in 1949: Gan Yoshiyya, 1 km due south of the village site, Ometz, 1 km north of the site; and ´Olesh, 4 km southwest of the site. Haniel was built on village land in 1950. Yikkon was built in the early 1950s to serve as a transit camp for new Jewish immigrants, and was later made into a regional school. Burgeta, built in 1949, is 5 km to the southwest but is not on village land.
Walid Khalidi described the remaining structures of the village in 1992:
"The fortress on top of the hill, a well that belonged to the family of Abu Hantash, and the school building are all that remain of the village. The fortress is surrounded by stone rubble and the remains of houses, and the school building is still used as a school by Israelis. Cactuses and an old mulberry tree grow south of the hill. The surrounding lands are covered by orchards. In addition, cotton, pistachios, and vegetables are grown on the lands. There is an Israeli fodder-processing factory northeast of the village site.
The Nature and Parks Authority and the Hefer Valley Economic Development Corporation recently ordered that the former site of Qaqun, its fortress and other ruins be declared a national park. The plan is to rehabilitate the site and turn it into a "focal point that will draw tourism."
- List of Arab towns and villages depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
- List of villages depopulated during the Arab-Israeli conflict
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Qaqun Fortress.|
- Pringle, 1997, pp. 83-84
- Morris, 2004, p. xviii, village #187. Also gives cause of depopulation
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- Qaqun Site موقع قرية قاقون
- Welcome To Qaqun
- Survey of Western Palestine, Map 11: IAA, Wikimedia commons
- Qaqun from the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center
- Qaqun by Rami Nashashibi (1996), Center for Research and Documentation of Palestinian Society.