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This article is about the Circassian village in modern day Israel. For the Palestinian village depopulated in 1948, see Al-Rihaniyya.
  • רִיחָאנִיָּה
  • الريحانية
Rehaniya is located in Israel
Location within Israel's North District
Coordinates: 33°2′54.12″N 35°29′15.36″E / 33.0483667°N 35.4876000°E / 33.0483667; 35.4876000Coordinates: 33°2′54.12″N 35°29′15.36″E / 33.0483667°N 35.4876000°E / 33.0483667; 35.4876000
District Northern
Founded 1878
 • Type Local council
Population (2011)
 • Total 1,123
Name meaning myrtle

Rehaniya (Adyghe: Рихьаные; Arabic: الريحانية‎; Hebrew: רִיחָנִיָּה; [rəjħaːnəja]) is a predominantly Circassian village about 8 km north of Safed in northern Israel. It belongs to the Merom HaGalil Regional Council.

Background and history[edit]

The Circassians arrived in the Middle East after they were pushed out of their homeland in the North Caucasus. The Circassians, who fought during the long period wherein the Russians captured the northern Caucasus, were massacred and expelled by Tsarist Russia from the Caucasus in an incident that became known as the Circassian Holocaust. The Ottoman Empire absorbed them in their territory and settled them in sparsely populated areas, including the Galilee in Beirut Vilayet (Ottoman Syria).[citation needed]

The area where they settled was called Burak Alma; ("Pools of Alma").[1]

The village Rehaniya was established in 1873, but only in 1878 did Circassian families arrive from the Abazah tribe in the northern Caucasus, a region where today is located the Adygea and Karachay–Cherkessia in the Russian Federation.[citation needed]

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Rihania had a population of 211; all Muslims,[2] increasing slightly in the 1931 census to 222, still all Muslims, in a total of 53 houses.[3]

In 1945, the population was 290, and the total land area was 6,137 dunums.[4] All the villagers were Muslim.[5] 271 dunums of land were irrigated or used for orchards; 4,725 dunums were allocated to cereal farming,[6] while 89 dunams were built up (urban) land.[7]

The village was built in the traditional Circassian style, which has its roots in the Caucasus, and is called "walled village": the houses are built next to one another and form a protective wall around the city, whose remnants remain until 2008. In the village there is a mosque in the style of Circassian mosques in the Caucasus, and substantially different from Arab mosques. Also, the village contains a museum and a center for Circassian heritage.[citation needed]

In 1948, during Operation Hiram (October 29–31), the villagers surrendered to the advancing Israeli army and were allowed to remain in the village. In November 1949 a plan to evict the villagers, as well as those from five other villages along the border with Lebanon, was presented to the Israeli cabinet. The proposals were strongly supported by the IDF but the plan was vetoed by the Foreign Ministry who were worried about the possible international response.[8] The village remained under Martial Law until 1966.

Rehaniya is one of two predominantly-Circassian villages in Israel. The other one is Kfar Kama, which was recognized as a local council in 1950.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 70
  2. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Safad, p. 41
  3. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 109
  4. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 71
  5. ^ United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, Village Statistics, April 1945, p. 5
  6. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 120
  7. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 170
  8. ^ Morris, 1987, pp.226,242,251.


External links[edit]