Al-Ras al-Ahmar

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This article is about the former Palestinian village in Safad Sub-district. For the present village in Tubas Governorate of the West Bank, see Khirbet ar-Ras al-Ahmar.
Al-Ras al-Ahmar
Al-Ras al-Ahmar is located in Mandatory Palestine
Al-Ras al-Ahmar
Al-Ras al-Ahmar
Name meaning the red head or hill-top[1]
Subdistrict Safad
Coordinates 33°2′28.29″N 35°27′52.09″E / 33.0411917°N 35.4644694°E / 33.0411917; 35.4644694Coordinates: 33°2′28.29″N 35°27′52.09″E / 33.0411917°N 35.4644694°E / 33.0411917; 35.4644694
Palestine grid 194/271
Population 620[2][3] (1945)
Area 7,934[2] dunams
Date of depopulation October 30, 1948[4]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Kerem Ben Zimra[5]

Al-Ras al-Ahmar was a Palestinian Arab village in the Safad Subdistrict. It was depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War on October 30, 1948 by the Israeli 7th Armored Brigade during Operation Hiram. It was located 8.5 km north of Safad.


Mosaics and wine presses with tessellated floors have been unearthed from the Byzantine period.[5]

Ottoman era[edit]

Incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 with the rest of Palestine, in 1596 it appeared under the name of Ras al-Ahmar in the tax registers as part of the nahiya (subdistrict) of Jira in the Sanjak (district) of Safad. It had an all Muslim population, consisting of 54 households and 22 bachelors. They paid taxes on agricultural products, including wheat, barley, vineyards, "kirsanna", goats and beehives, in addition to occasional revenues and an olive oil or grape syrup press; the taxes totalled 5,500 akçe. Half of the revenues went to a Waqf.[6][7]

Algerian followers of Abdelkader El Djezairi have been defeated by the French in Algeria, and sought refuge in another part of the Ottoman Empire. They were settled in various locations in Ottoman Syria, including Al-Ras al-Ahmar.[8]

In 1875 Victor Guérin found that the village was situated 844 meters above sea level, and contained 150 Muslims.[9]

In 1881 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described the village "Well-built stone houses. containing 350 Algerian Moslems, situated on high hill, with gardens down the slopes. There is a perennial supply of good water in Wâdy Râs el Ahmar."[10]

British Mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Al-Ras al-Ahmar had a population of 405; all Muslims,[11] increasing slightly in the 1931 census to 447; 6 Christians and 441 Muslims, in a total of 92 houses.[12]

In 1945, al-Ras al-Ahmar had a population of 620, all Muslims, and a land area of 7,934 dunams.[2][3] Of this, 1,008 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 4,728 were used for cereals, [13] while 61 dunams were classified as built-up, or urban area.[14] An elementary school for boys was founded during this period.[5]

1948, aftermath[edit]

Ras al-Ahmar was on the border between the territories allotted to the Arab and to the Jewish state under the 1947 UN Partition Plan.[15]

In March 1948, a British medical officer reported that the village of Al-Ras al-Ahmar was completely unprepared for war.[16]

The fall of Safad and the expulsion of its Arab inhabitants in May 1948, "severely undermined" the morale of surrounding villages, including Al-Ras al-Ahmar, according to Haganah Intelligence sources. They reported that the villagers "had decided to abandon their villages if the Arabs of Safad surrender."[17]

In October 1948 Operation Hiram took place, where the operational orders to the Israeli troop were "to occupy the whole of the Galilee”. On the 30 October, 1948, the 71st Battalion from the 7th Armored Brigade took Ras al-Ahmar, together with Rehaniya, Alma and Dayshum.[18] Word of the Jish and Safsaf massacres had apparently spread to Ras al-Ahmar, as the village was largely empty when the 7th Brigade arrived.[19]

By mid-June, 1949, the village lands of Al-Ras al-Ahmar were settled by Jewish immigrants as part of the policy of Judaisation of Northern Israel.[20]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 92
  2. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 71
  3. ^ a b Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 10
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xvi, village #39. Also gives cause of depopulation.
  5. ^ a b c Khalidi, 1992, p. 488
  6. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 175
  7. ^ Note that Rhode, 1979, p. 6 writes that the register that Hütteroth and Abdulfattah studied was not from 1595/6, but from 1548/9
  8. ^ Abbasi, 2007 (Hebrew). Non-Hebrew version in The Maghreb Review, 28(1), 2003, pp. 41-59.
  9. ^ Guérin, 1880, pp. 444-5
  10. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 199
  11. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Safad, p. 41
  12. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 109
  13. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 120
  14. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 170
  15. ^ "Map of UN Partition Plan". United Nations. Archived from the original on 24 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  16. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 30
  17. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 226
  18. ^ Morris, 2004, pp. 473-474
  19. ^ Morris, 2004, pp. 482-483
  20. ^ Morris, 2004, pp. 381 -382: By mid-June 1949, [Yehoshua] Eshel wrote, the whole northern border area had been Judaised through the ‘absorption settlements’-moshavim and development towns - such as at Tarshiha, Suhmata, Deir al Qasi, Tarbikha, Meirun, Sammu’i, Safsaf, Ras al Ahmar’.


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