Sabalan, Safad

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Sabalan is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic سبلان
Subdistrict Safad
Coordinates 33°0′41.58″N 35°20′29.11″E / 33.0115500°N 35.3414194°E / 33.0115500; 35.3414194Coordinates: 33°0′41.58″N 35°20′29.11″E / 33.0115500°N 35.3414194°E / 33.0115500; 35.3414194
Population 70 (1945)
Area 1,798 dunams

1.8 km²

Date of depopulation October 30, 1948[1]
Cause(s) of depopulation
Current localities None

Sabalan (Arabic: سبلان‎, Sabalân) was a Palestinian Arab village in the Safad Subdistrict, located 15.5 kilometers (9.6 mi) northwest of Safad. It stood at an elevation of 800 meters (2,600 ft) above sea level overlooking the Druze village of Hurfeish. In 1945, Sabalan had a population of 70.[2] It was depopulated during the 1948 Palestine War.


In the 19th century, Sabalan was a stone-built village. Within it was the tomb of a Nabi Sabalan ("Prophet Sabalan"), after whom the village was named. At the time, there were 100 inhabitants who mostly cultivated figs and olives.[3] Some believe Sabalan is supposed to be Zebulun, the son of Jacob, while others claim he was a da'is ("missionary") who joined the Druze religion and helped promote it in the region.[4] Archaeological artifacts, namely rock-cut tombs are located near the tomb.[5]

In the British Mandate period, it had a circular plan with most of its houses being closely clustered together. Because of the steep slopes that surrounded Sabalan, the village was only able to expand on its northwestern end.[3] Although the tomb of Nabi Sabalan was sacred to the Druze,[5] the entire population of the village was Muslim and at its center stood a mosque.[3] At the time of the 1931 census, Sabalan had 18 occupied houses and a population of 94 Muslims.[6]

On October 30, 1948, during the Israeli offensive Operation Hiram, Sabalan was captured. Units of Israel's Golani Brigade overran the village with support from the Sheva Brigade as they were advancing along the road leading from Suhmata and Sa'sa'. No Jewish localities were built on village lands,[5] which constituted 1,798 dunams in 1945.[2] According to Palestinian historian, Walid Khalidi, "Only one village house and a well remain." The remaining house is occupied by the Druze guards and caretakers of the Nabi Sabalan tomb and new buildings were constructed to accommodate pilgrims and visitors.[5] In 1965, Druze youth activists led by Samih al-Qasim protested the confiscation of the lands surrounding the tomb by the Israeli government which declared them "state lands."[7] The Druze religious leadership established Eid al-Nabi Sabalan ("Feast of the Prophet Sabalan") in 1971.[4]

Today, The lands of the village including the holy shrine were annexed to the Druze town of Hurfeish and a neighborhood for released soldier was built there.


  1. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xvii, village #62. Also gives cause of depopulation as "?"
  2. ^ a b Hadawi, 1970, p.71.
  3. ^ a b c Khalidi, 1992, p.489.
  4. ^ a b Swayd, 2006, p.140.
  5. ^ a b c d Khalidi, 1992, p.490.
  6. ^ E. Mills, ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine. p. 110. 
  7. ^ Firro, 1999, p.182.


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