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Khalsa mosque 05-2008.jpg
The mosque of al-Khalisa, currently a museum for the history of Kiryat Shemona
al-Khalisa is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic الخالصة
Name meaning Pure, sincere[1]
Also spelled al-Khalsa
Subdistrict Safad
Coordinates 33°12′52.47″N 35°34′02.26″E / 33.2145750°N 35.5672944°E / 33.2145750; 35.5672944Coordinates: 33°12′52.47″N 35°34′02.26″E / 33.2145750°N 35.5672944°E / 33.2145750; 35.5672944
Palestine grid 203/290
Population 1,840[2] (1945)
Area 11,280 dunams
11.3 km²
Date of depopulation May 11, 1948[3][4]
Cause(s) of depopulation Influence of nearby town's fall
Secondary cause Whispering campaign
Current localities Kiryat Shemona

Al-Khalisa was a Palestinian Arab village situated on a low hill on the northwestern edge of the Hula Valley of over 1,800 located 28 kilometers (17 mi) north of Safad. It was depopulated in the 1948 Palestine war.


Al-Khalisa was founded by the Bedouin from the 'Arab al-Ghawarina clan, who constituted the bulk the village's population. Under the Ottoman Empire, in 1596, it had a population of 160 and was under the administration of the nahiya ("subdistrict") of Jira, part of Sanjak Safad. It paid taxes on wheat, barley, orchards, beehives, water buffalo, and a water-powered mill.[5]

In 1881, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described al-Khalisa as a village built of stone, surrounded by streams, with a population of 50.[6]

British Mandate era[edit]

The houses of the village were built of bricks and basalt stones cut from the hillside. Al-Khalisa had a boys' elementary school which also admitted students from neighboring villages. The residents drew their drinking water from several springs.[3] It was one of five villages in the Galilee to be governed by a village council that administered in local affairs.[7]

The leader of 'Arab al-Ghawarina clan was Sheikh Kamal Hussein, resident of Al-Khalisa, and, according to Meron Benvenisti, he led the raid on Tel Hai in 1920. However, in the years preceding 1948, Sheikh Kamal established close relationships with the Jewish settlers, but, according to Benvenisti, the veterans of Kfar Giladi did not forget or forgive, and cultivated Sheikh Kamal's enemy Emir Faour.[8]

Al-Khalisa, 1946

In the 1931 census of Palestine, the population of El Khalisa was 1,369; 1,340 Muslims, 3 Jews and 26 Christians, in a total of 259 houses.[9]

In 1945, its population was 1,840, of which 20 were Christians, and the total land area were 11,280 dunams.[3][10] Of this, 5,586 dunams were irrigated or used for plantations, 3,775 for cereals,[11] while 20 dunams were classified as urban land.[12]

1948, and after[edit]

The residents of al-Khalisa left their homes on 11th May 1948 following the rejection of approaches made by them to the Haganah asking for an "agreement".[13] According to Yigal Allon, the commander of Operation Yiftach, the villagers left following his Whispering Campaign. This involved instructing the leaders of Jewish villages in the area to warn their neighbours that "a great Jewish reinforcement has arrived in Galilee and that it is going to burn all the villages of the Huleh." Post-war IDF analysis seems to undermine this claim. Allon himself writes that the fall of Safad and the success of Operation Matateh were also reasons for the villagers departure. He describes them as some of "the tens of thousands of sulky Arabs who remained in Galilee." He also states that "The building of the police station at Halsa (al-Khalisa) fell into our hands without a shot."[14][15]

Al Khalisa police station. 1948

The village's residents stated that after they fled, only the local militia remained, but withdrew after shelling from the Jewish town of Manara and after seeing an armored unit approaching al-Khalisa.[16] Former villagers, interviewed in Tel al-Zaatar camp in Lebanon in 1973, recounted that when they returned to the village;

We found that the Jews had burned and destroyed the houses belonging to Ali Zakayan, Abu Ali Muhammad Hamadih, Mustafa al-Haj Yusif, Issa Muhammad, Ali Salih Ahmad, Muhammad Arab al-Haj Mahmud, Salih Ismail, Sari al-Khadir, Dawud Hussein, Abdul-Raziq Hamid, Qassim Muhammead al-Salih and Ali Hussein Mahmud ... The village was in ruins.[17]

The mosque of Al-Khalisa, 2008, now serving as museum for Kiryat Shemona.

According to Walid Khalidi, 1992, "stone rubble from the houses markes the site. The school and the Mandate government´s office buildings stand abandoned, as does the village mosque and minaret. The level land surrounding the site is cultivated by settlement of Qirat Shemona, while the mountainous areas are either used as pastures or are wooded."[3]

According to Meron Benvenisti, 2000, "the mosque of al-Khalsa, one of the few structures that remain of that Galilee Arab village, is situated in a municipal park in the older section of the Jewish town of Kiryat Shemona. It serves as the local museum dedicated to the memory of townspeople who have fallen in Israel's various wars."[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 23
  2. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 30
  3. ^ a b c d Khalidi, 1992, p.463.
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xvi, village #10. Also gives cause of depopulation.
  5. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p.178; cited in Khalidi, 1992, p.463
  6. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 88; cited in Khalidi, 1992, p.463.
  7. ^ Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, 1945-1946, p.132.
  8. ^ Benvenisti, 2000, p. 127
  9. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 107
  10. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 70
  11. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 119
  12. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 169
  13. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 251
  14. ^ Chapman, Colin (1983) "Whose Promised Land". Lion Publishing. ISBN 0-85648-522-5. p.73 quoting the "Book of the Palmach"
  15. ^ Morris, Benny (1987) The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947-1949. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-33028-9. p.123
  16. ^ Morris, 1987, pp. 120-124 and Nazzal, 1978, pp. 46-48; cited in Khalidi, 1992, p.463.
  17. ^ Nazzal, 1978, pp. 47-48.
  18. ^ Benvenisti, 2000, p. 291


External links[edit]