Abu Zurayq

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Abu Zurayq
בית הספר באבו זריק.jpg
A school in Abu Zurayq, pre-1948
Abu Zurayq is located in Mandatory Palestine
Abu Zurayq
Abu Zurayq
Also spelled Abu Zureiq or Abu Zreiq
Subdistrict Haifa
Coordinates 32°38′03″N 35°07′34″E / 32.63417°N 35.12611°E / 32.63417; 35.12611Coordinates: 32°38′03″N 35°07′34″E / 32.63417°N 35.12611°E / 32.63417; 35.12611
Palestine grid 162/226
Population 550[1][2] (1945)
Area 6,493 dunams
Date of depopulation April 12–13, 1948[3]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Secondary cause Expulsion by Yishuv forces

Abu Zurayq (also spelled Abu Zureiq or Abu Zreiq) was a Palestinian Turkmen village in the Haifa Subdistrict of Mandatory Palestine, situated near Wadi Abu Zurayq. It was depopulated on April 12–13 during and after the Battle of Mishmar HaEmek of the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine.


Paleolithic stone tools have been found in Tell Abu Zreiq within the former village lands, as well as the remains of a Bronze Age farmhouse.[4]

The village was named after Abu Zurayq al-Attili, a local Muslim saint from Attil who was buried in the village.[5] Prior to World War I, most of its inhabitants had lived a nomadic lifestyle. In 1878, Abu Zurayq was listed as a spring instead of a populated place. [6] Towards the start of WW I, the first house was built in Abu Zurayq by Samir al-Isa, followed by a second house built during the war by Abd al-Karem Abd al-Shitawi.[7]

British Mandatory period[edit]

The war brought an end to the Ottoman era and the beginning of British Mandatory rule. During the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, Abu Zurayq's residents did not participate in the fighting, and most were quietly opposed to the revolt,[8] although there were some sympathizers of the rebels as well. The village mukhtar (headman) was a man named Dahmus in 1937, but he was replaced by Abd al-Khalaq al-Shabash, a pro-rebel mukhtar.[9] A small, simply-constructed mosque was built in Abu Zurayq in 1938. The imam of the mosque was a resident from nearby Umm az-Zinat, but was eventually replaced by an imam from Haifa.[8]

1948 War and aftermath[edit]

Abu Zurayq's residents had traditionally maintained cordial relations with the nearby Jewish kibbutz of HaZorea, including low-level economic cooperation, particularly with regards to agriculture. Arabic language versions of a Jewish labor periodical were regularly distributed in the village.[9] In the lead-up to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, as part of Jewish efforts to clear the area around Mishmar HaEmek of Palestinian Arabs, on 12 April 1948, Palmach units of the Haganah took over Abu Zurayq. There they took 15 men and 200 women and children into custody, after which they expelled all of the women and children. Demolitions of homes in the village began on the night of its capture and were completed by 15 April.[10] The Filastin newspaper reported that of the 30 homes demolished by Palmach forces, five still contained residents.[11]

According to the account of a Middle East scholar and resident from HaZore'a, Eliezer Bauer, following its capture, Abu Zurayq's men, who were unaffiliated with any Palestinian militia and did not resist the Haganah, "tried to escape and save themselves by fleeing" to nearby fields but were intercepted by armed Jewish residents of nearby kibbutzim and moshavim. After a firefight in which many of the village's men were killed, several survivors surrendered themselves while other unarmed men were taken captive, and the majority of these men were killed. Other men found hiding in the village itself were executed, while houses were looted before being demolished. Bauer's account of events was discussed by the members of HaZorea's kibbutz council where the events surrounding Abu Zurayq's capture were condemned.[12]

Most of the people who managed to escape or were expelled from Abu Zurayq ended up in makeshift camps around Jenin. Along with the expelled residents of other nearby villages they complained to the Arab Higher Committee of their situation, asked for help with humanitarian aid and demanded that Arab forces be sent to avenge their loss and return them to their lands.[10] As of 1992, no other towns were constructed on Abu Zurayq's lands and the closest populated place is HaZorea. Much of the village land is used for either agricultural or pastoral purposes. The agricultural land largely consists of cacti, olive and fig trees.[11]

Geography and land use[edit]

Abu Zurayq was situated in the northern foothills of an area overlooking the Jezreel Valley called "Bilad al-Rawha" (The Fragrant Country). It depended on a number of water sources in its vicinity including an Ein Abu Zurayq spring, the Wadi Abu Zurayq stream and a well.[13]

In 1945, Abu Zurayq had a total land area of 6,493 Turkish dunams, most of which—4,401 dunams—were privately owned by Arabs; the remainder was public property.[2] Of the land, 4,092 was used for grains, the village's principal crop, 282 for plantations and irrigated land, and one dunam for citrus and bananas.[14] while 2,118 dunams were classified as non-cultivable land.[15] In 1942–43, olive trees occupied roughly 100 dunams of Abu Zurayq's land.[13]

An unspecified area consisted of built-up space. Abu Zurayq contained a number of houses that were dispersed throughout the village and on a nearby hill near the highway between Jenin and Haifa, most of them built at a relative distance from each other. The homes were built of stone and with either concrete rooftops or roofs built of other material such as mud, straw or wood.[13]


Abu Zurayq's inhabitants were largely of nomadic Turkmen descent, although by the 20th century, they spoke only Arabic and considered themselves Arabs. They were part of the larger nomadic Turkmen community that lived in the Marj Ibn Amer plain and in their transition to a sedentary lifestyle also founded the nearby villages of Abu Shusha, al-Mansi, Ayn al-Mansi, Khirbat Lid, and al-Ghubayya at around the same time Abu Zurayq was founded.[16] Nearly all of Abu Zurayq's residents hailed from the Turkmen Tawhashe clan, although one of the families claimed descent from the village's namesake Abu Zurayq and another claimed Jewish ancestry. There were also four families of African descent in the village, who had either come to the area with the Egyptian army of Ibrahim Pasha in the mid-19th century or were the descendants of African slaves.[5] The Turkmen families also claimed kinship ties with the Beni Sakhr of Transjordan.[7] All of the inhabitants were Sunni Muslims, although in general they were not religious.[5]

In the 1922 census, the population was 301 (142 males and 159 females).[5][17] There was no available population figure from the 1931 census.[13] In 1945, it had a population of 550 Muslims.[1][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 13
  2. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 47
  3. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xviii, village #153. Also gives causes of depopulation.
  4. ^ Gonen, 1992, p. 55
  5. ^ a b c d Benvenisti, 2000, p. 74
  6. ^ "The spring of the Magpie"; Palmer, 1881, p. 142
  7. ^ a b Benvenisti, 2000, p. 75
  8. ^ a b Benvenisti, 2000, p. 76
  9. ^ a b Benvenisti, 2000, p. 77
  10. ^ a b Morris, 2004, pp. 241–242.
  11. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, p. 144
  12. ^ Morris, 2004, pp. 242–243, 346
  13. ^ a b c d Khalidi, 1992, p. 143
  14. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 89
  15. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 139
  16. ^ Yusuf, Muhsin; Anabisa, Ghaleb (2008), "Territorial Awareness In the 1834 Palestinian Revolt", in Roger Heacock, Les Turkmènes en Palestine: histoire et devenir (in French), Beirut: Presses de l'Ifpo, ISBN 978-2-35159-265-6 
  17. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Haifa, p. 34


External links[edit]