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  • יִרְכָּא
  • يركا
Hebrew transcription(s)
 • Also spelled Yirka (unofficial)
Yarka municipality
Yarka municipality
Official logo of Yarka
Yarka is located in Israel
Coordinates: 32°57′14.39″N 35°12′44.16″E / 32.9539972°N 35.2122667°E / 32.9539972; 35.2122667Coordinates: 32°57′14.39″N 35°12′44.16″E / 32.9539972°N 35.2122667°E / 32.9539972; 35.2122667
Grid position 170/261 PAL
District Northern
 • Type Local council
 • Total 15,564 dunams (15.564 km2 or 6.009 sq mi)
Population (2015)[1]
 • Total 16,244

Yarka (Hebrew: יִרְכָּא‎, Arabic: يركا‎‎)[2] is a Druze village and local council in the Northern District of Israel. Located northeast of Acre, in 2015 it had a population of 16,244.


Yarka is an ancient village site, where old columns and cisterns have been found. Clermont-Ganneau found a Greek inscription here dating from the Christian era.[3] In the Crusader era, Yarka was known under the name of Arket. In 1220 Joscelin III´s daughter Beatrix de Courtenay and her husband Otto von Botenlauben, Count of Henneberg, sold their land, including Arket, to the Teutonic Knights.[4]

Ottoman era[edit]

In 1517, Yarka was with the rest of Palestine incorporated into the Ottoman Empire after it was captured from the Mamluks, and by 1596, it appeared in the Ottoman tax registers as part of the Nahiya of Akka of the Liwa of Safad. It had a population of 174 Muslim households and 24 bachelors and paid taxes on an olive press.[5][6]

A map by Pierre Jacotin from Napoleon's invasion of 1799 showed the place, named as Hierka.[7]

Hilwah, (praying house), in Yarka

The French explorer Victor Guérin visited Yarka in 1875, and wrote that "cut stones of ancient appearance have been used in building the modern houses. [..] About a hundred cisterns cut in rock, a half of which are no longer used, and the other half serve for the wants of the people, reveal the existence in this place of an ancient locality of some importance."[8] In 1881, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine, Yarka is described as a well-built stone village inhabited by 400 Druze who grew olives and figs.[9]

British Mandate era[edit]

In a census conducted in 1922 by the British Mandate authorities, Yarka had a population of 978 residents; 937 Druze, 26 Muslims and 15 Christians,[10] where the Christians were 11 Orthodox, 3 Roman Catholics and 1 Maronite.[11] The population increased in the 1931 census of Palestine to 1,196; 1,138 Druze, 46 Muslims and 11 Christians living in a total of 343 occupied houses.[12]

In 1945 Yirka had a population of 1,500; 70 Muslims, 10 Christians and 1420 "other" (=Druze),[13] with 42,452 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey.[14] Of this, 5,747 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 5,909 used for cereals,[15] while 140 dunams were built-up land.[16]

Religious sites[edit]

Yarka contains the maqam ("saintly-person tomb") of Shaykh Ghana'im Abu Saraya,[17][18] a native of the town and one of the first missionary sheikhs to spread the Druze faith in the Galilee during the 11th century.[17][19][20] He was the principle Druze sheikh in the Acre coastal area.[19] Druze tradition has it that Abu Saraya is buried underneath the floor of the shrine.[18]

The town is also the site of the al-Nabi Siddiq maqam. The Druze associate al-Nabi Siddiq with Hushai ha-Arki, an adviser to the ancient Israelite king David. According to this tradition, the name Yarka derives from "ha-Arki." The Druze prayer house Khalwah ash-Sheikh Muhammad is situated just east of Yarka. It was built sometime prior to 1931 by the religious sheikh Muhammad Mu'addi as a center for Druze religious studies.[21]


One of the largest factories in the Middle East[citation needed], a steel mill built and owned by the Kadmani family, is located in Yarka. My Baby, with 11,000 meters of retail space, is Israel's largest store for children's and baby's supplies. The store has an annual turnover of NIS 100 million.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of localities, in Alphabetical order" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  2. ^ Personal name, according to Palmer, 1881, p. 60
  3. ^ Dauphin, 1998, p. 639, citing Clermont-Ganneau, 1881, pp. 37-38.
  4. ^ Strehlke, 1869, pp. 43- 44, No. 53; cited in Röhricht, 1893, RHH, p. 248, No. 934 (34); cited in Frankel, 1988, pp. 254, 263
  5. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 191
  6. ^ Note that Rhode, 1979, p. 6 writes that the Safad register that Hütteroth and Abdulfattah studied was not from 1595/6, but from 1548/9
  7. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 162.
  8. ^ Guérin, 1880, pp. 16-17, as translated and cited by Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 193
  9. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 148
  10. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Acre, p. 36
  11. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XVI, p. 50
  12. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 103
  13. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 5
  14. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 41
  15. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 82
  16. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 132
  17. ^ a b Swayd, 2009, p. 8
  18. ^ a b Dana, 2003, p. 36.
  19. ^ a b Abu-Izzedin, 1993, p. 131
  20. ^ Dana, 2003, p. 106.
  21. ^ Dana, 2003, p. 32.
  22. ^ Israel's only American-style baby store, in the heart of a Druze village


External links[edit]