Kafr Lam

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Kafr Lam
The fortress of Kafr Lam as seen from the southeast
Kafr Lam is located in Mandatory Palestine
Kafr Lam
Kafr Lam
Arabic كفر لام
Name meaning The village of Lam[1]
Also spelled Kfar Lam
Subdistrict Haifa
Coordinates 32°38′15″N 34°56′04″E / 32.63750°N 34.93444°E / 32.63750; 34.93444Coordinates: 32°38′15″N 34°56′04″E / 32.63750°N 34.93444°E / 32.63750; 34.93444
Palestine grid 144/227
Population 340[2][3] (1944-45)
Area 6,838[3] dunams
Date of depopulation July 16, 1948[4]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Secondary cause Influence of nearby town's fall
Current localities HaBonim,[5] Ein Ayala[6]

Kafr Lam (Arabic: كفر لام‎) was a Palestinian Arab village located 26 kilometres (16 mi) south of Haifa on the Mediterranean coast. The name of the village was shared with that of an Islamic fort constructed there early in the period of Arab Caliphate rule (638–1099 CE) in Palestine. To the Crusaders, both the fort and the village, which they controlled for some time in the 13th century, were known as Cafarlet.

Kafr Lam was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. While the village was largely destroyed, some of its former structures and their ruins can be seen in the Israeli moshav of HaBonim, established on the lands of Kafr Lam in 1949.


According to the Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi, the town of Kafr Lam was established near Qisarya by the Umayyad caliph Hisham ibn ´Abd al-Malik (A.D. 724-743).[7][8] The fort, constructed in the castra form, was erected during early Abbasid, or late Umayyad rule to guard against invasion from the Byzantine empire.[9][10][11]

Kfar Lam was a fiefdom of the lord of Caesarea during the Crusader era in Palestine, and was known at this time as Cafarlet.[11][12] In 1200 Kafr Lam, under the name of Kafarletum, was mentioned as a fief, held by Soquerius al-Shuwayki, from the Lords of Caesarea, Aymar de Lairon.[13]

In October 1213, Aymar de Lairon, pledged the casalia of Cafarlet and two fiefdoms as surety for a debt of 1,000 besants he had taken from the Hospitallers.[12][14] In 1232, the Casal of Cafarlet was sold to the Hospitallers for 16,000 Saracen besants, its increased value due to its having been fortified after a raid on the lordship of Caesarea by troops from Damascus in 1227.[12]

The Hospitallers transferred ownership over Carfalet to the Templars in 1255.[15] In 1262 the final exchange of the land of Kafr Lam took place between the Templars and the Hospitallers, leaving Kafr Lam under Templar control.[16]

The village was captured by Muslim forces in 1265, but retaken by the Crusaders shortly thereafter. In 1291, it was taken by the Mamluks, who ruled over it from that time until the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Palestine in the early sixteenth century.[6]

Ottoman era[edit]

During early Ottoman rule in Palestine, in 1596, a farm in Kafr Lam paid taxes to the ruling authorities.[17] Pierre Jacotin named the village Kofour el An on his map from 1799.[18]

Descriptions of Kfar Lam under later Ottoman rule are available in the writings of European travellers to the region. For example, Mary Rogers, the sister of the British vice-consul in Haifa, visited the Kafr Lam in 1856 and wrote that its houses were built of mud and stone and that the fields around the village abounded in Indian wheat, millet, sesame, tobacco, and orchards.[19] In 1859, consul Rogers estimated the population to be 120, and the cultivation to be 16 feddans.[20]

French explorer Victor Guérin visited in 1870, and noted that Kafr Lam was situated on top of a small hill and was inhabited by about 300 villagers. He said that the village stood within a large stone enclosure that dated to the time of the Crusades.[21]

In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Kafr Lam as a small village of adobe hovels crowded within the ancient walls.[20]

A population list from about 1887 showed that Kefr Lam had about 180 inhabitants, all Muslim.[22]

In modern times, the houses of Kafr Lam were made of stone and either mud or cement and were clustered together. The villagers were Muslims, and maintained a mosque. A boys elementary school was built in 1882, but it was closed during the period of the British Mandate in Palestine.

British Mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Kufr Lam had a population 156, all Muslims,[23] increasing in the 1931 census to 215, still all Muslims, in a total of 50 houses.[24]

There were five wells on village lands. The village economy depended on animal husbandry and agriculture and the main crops cultivated were various sorts of grain.[6]

In 1945, Kafr Lam had a population of 340 Muslim inhabitants,[2] and the total land area was 6,838 dunams.[3] Of the land, a total of 75 dunams was for plantations and irrigable land, 5,052 dunums (1,248 acres) for cereals,[25] while 14 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[26]

1948 Arab-Israeli war and aftermath[edit]

Kafr Lam was evacuated early in May 1948, but by mid-May some of the villagers had returned. On 15 May 1948, the first day of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, troops from the Carmeli Brigade occupied Kafr Lam and neighbouring Sarafand, and briefly garrisoned the two villages. Both villages were re-occupied and cleared of their inhabitants by mid-July 1948.[27] This operation involved the first use of support fire from Israeli naval forces, with two warships participating in the attack, aiming light-weapons fire at Kafr Lam and Sarafand.[6]

After the start of the Second Truce, on 19 July 1948, units of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) units continued to destroy Palestinian villages in various parts of the country. However, special interest groups, such as archaeologists, began to complain, calling for curbs on IDF destructiveness. Thus, on 7 October, Haifa District HQ ordered the 123rd Battalion to stop all demolition activities in "Qisarya, Atlit, Kafr Lam and Tiberias"; all of which contained Roman or Crusader era ruins.[28]

Following the war the area was incorporated into the State of Israel. The moshavim of HaBonim and Ein Ayala were established on Kafr Lam's village lands in 1949.[6][29] The abandoned fortress and several houses are still standing. One house, that of Ahmad Bey Khalil, has been converted into a school, while another is being used as an post office.[6]


The population (includes Kafr Lam Station) was 215 in 1931.[24] In 1944/45 the population was 340.[6][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 140
  2. ^ a b Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 14
  3. ^ a b c d Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 48
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xviii, village #175. Also gives cause of depopulation.
  5. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xxii, Settlement #121.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Khalidi, 1992, p. 170
  7. ^ Mu'jam Al-Buldan, cited in Khalidi, 1992, p.170
  8. ^ leStrange, 1890, p.470
  9. ^ Nicolle and Hook, 2008, pp. 27-29.
  10. ^ Petersen, 1996, p. 231.
  11. ^ a b Boas, 1999, p. 98.
  12. ^ a b c Bronstein, 2005, p. 48
  13. ^ Röhricht, 1893, RHH, p. 205, # 768; cited in Pringle, 2009, pp. 241-2
  14. ^ Röhricht, 1893, RHH, pp. 232-3, # 866; cited in Pringle, 2009, p. 242
  15. ^ Röhricht, 1893, RHH, p. 324, # 1233; cited in Pringle, 1997, p. 58 and Pringle, 2009, p. 242
  16. ^ Röhricht, 1893, RHH, pp. 344-5, # 1319;; cited in Pringle, 2009, p. 242
  17. ^ Al-Bakhit and al-Hamud 1989a:19. Quoted in Khalidi, p. 170
  18. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 163
  19. ^ Rogers, 1865, p. 372. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 170
  20. ^ a b Conder and Kitchener, 1882, pp.3-4
  21. ^ Guérin, 1875, p. 302, quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 170
  22. ^ Schumacher, 1888, p. 180
  23. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Haifa, p. 34
  24. ^ a b Mills, 1932, p. 94
  25. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 90
  26. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 140
  27. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 248
  28. ^ Morris, 2004, pp. 353-4.
  29. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xxii


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