Israeli Town built on Arab Village

Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, Palestine Land Society

The Associated Press, in its report quoted by the Herald Tribune and Haaretz on Feb 11, 2008, said that Qiryat Yam sued Google Earth " for slander" because its worldwide map service showed the town was built on the ruins of an Arab village, Arab al Ghawarina or Jidru, in an entry made by Thameen Darby.

Qiryat Yam official claimed that this is not true, no Palestinians were expelled from the site because there was none and the Jewish village was founded in 1945, before Israel was established.

This is not true. Sheet 15/25, 16/25 (Acre) of the Survey of Palestine (under the British Mandate) does not show Qiryat Yam. Instead, it shows Al Ghawarina - Jidru. The land from the edge of the Arab village site to the sea is marked on the map as "Government Forest Reserve No. 2). Aerial surveys taken by RAF in 1946 show no such Jewish village (photo available for inspecting).

As a further proof, sheet V of Palestine Exploration Fund survey, which started its work in 1871 and printed its maps a decade later, shows Jidru at the same location of the British Mandate maps. This confirms the existence of Jidru from old until 1948 when Qiryat Yam was built on its ruins.

Some of the expelled Ghawarina fled to Jisr al Zarqa, which is an Arab town in existence for many decades before Israel was established.

Al Ghawarina earn their living as farmers, ploughmen and cattle breeders, especially buffalos. The latter explains why most of them lived near Hula Lake before they were too expelled by Israel in 1948.

Professor Yossi Ben - Artzi of Haifa University told Yediot Ahronot that Google's entry is "simply complete nonsense" and that land was bought by Jews in 1939. He was probably referring to Kefar Masaryk which was founded in that year and served as a Haganah base to attack and depopulate Galilee, which took place later.

Qiryat Yam started building huts on Jidru site to accommodate Jewish Brigade soldiers of WWII who came to help in the occupation of Palestine. Its entity as town was confirmed only in 1976 when it received "municipality" status.

But the whole controversy fades against the total picture of al Nakba of 1948 when the Palestinian population of 655 towns and villages were depopulated, who now make 7 million refugees. Their confiscated land is 93% of Israel's area. Arguing about 1,2 or 10 sites will not alter the fact of the 1948 ethnic cleansing, which will remain the core of the conflict unless peace based on justice is achieved.

Dr. Salman Abu Sitta
Palestine Land Society, London
(dedicated to the documentatin of the land and people of Palestine)

1 comment:

  1. To show the information given above as the maufactured propaganda it really is, the author describes the Ghawarina as fleeing to Zawiya which he claims is an "Arab town." First, "Ghawarina" is a generic Arab label assumed by amalgamated groups living a semi-nomadic lifestyle in or around marshland. In the Historical Palestine of the late-19th and early-20th Century there were three separate Ghawarina Tribes, all unrelated to one another but sharing the same narrative.

    The three groups all originated in Lower Egypt, in the Delta, and were composed of escaped slaves, military deserters, Algerians fleeing the failed rebellion against the French in the mid-19th Century and other marginalised elements of society. They first moved out of Africa and into Asia behind the invasion of Pasha Muhammad 'Ali. Under command of 'Ali's son, Pasha Ibrahim, the military moved into Historic Palestine and the rest of Greater Syria. This freedom of movement also led to disparate elements such as Kuridish and Turkomen moving southward into Historical Palestine as well.

    In the 1880s Sultan 'Abdulhamid II, leader of the Ottoman Empire, handed the Zionists a substantial portion of the Huleh Wetlands with the understanding that they would be drained and converted into productive- and therefore productive arable land. As the marsh was drained, a process than ended up taking nearly 75 years, the Ghawarina were concentrated more and more into the almost impenetrable centre of the marsh. Of the marsh's total of 52,000 dunam, the Zionists earmarked 15,000 for Ghawarina use. This led to the tribe constructing 14 villages, of which Jis'r al Zawiya is one (in other words, someone ought to inform the author thay Zawiya is a Ghawarina village, so why would Ghawarina "flee" to it?).

    As for the author's recycling of the same old canards about Zionists engaging in Ethnic Cleansing...In 1949 there were 200,000 Palestinians still within the Greenline and they were immediately made full and equal citizens. At its narrowest this territory was 11km wide and yet, Zionists simply couldn't find those 200,000 to Ethnically Cleanse them? Those 200,000 today number nearly 2 million. The "Ethnic Cleansing" fantasy doesn't withstand even a cursory examination.

    Israel cannot possibly be responsible for refugees who fled from locations outside of the Greenline, since the Greenline is after all, an Armistice Line (the farthest extent of territory captured by Zionists). If we take the UN at its word, there were a grand total of less than 500,000 Palestinian Refugees by 1949. That number includes refugees from all parts of Historic Palestine.

    If the British Census of 1945 ("Village Statistics 1945") gave a total of 420,000 Palestinians inside of what would become the Greenline, and in 1949 Israel had 200,000 Arab citizens the upper limit would be 220,000 Palestinian Refugees and as both Palestinian and third party sources tell us, those that left largely did so on their own volition long before seeing any Zionist soldiers.

    Palestinians today make no mention of the 3 offers of repatriation offered to them institutionally, or that individual repatriation has always been available. Nor do the mention that reperations on an institutional level were paid in full by 1953. Likewise they ignore the fact that all liquid assets were returned by 1956.

    Of course they totally ignore the 900,000 Jewish Refugees from Arab Nations who have never been offered anything from anyone. Instead they subject us to the same monotonous whining and then they get angry that they are stateless. They will never have anything unless they start acting like adults and accept responsibility. Remember, there would be ZERO refugees if Palestinians had accepted co-existence and if Arabs hadn't attacked Israel in 1948.