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Kibbutz HaGoshrim opened "a lovely hotel" in the former manor house of Emir Faour of Al-Khisas.[1]
Arabic الخصاص
Also Spelled 'Arab al-Khisas
District Safad
Coordinates 33°13′30.59″N 35°37′10.00″E / 33.2251639°N 35.61944°E / 33.2251639; 35.61944Coordinates: 33°13′30.59″N 35°37′10.00″E / 33.2251639°N 35.61944°E / 33.2251639; 35.61944
Population 1,840 [2] (1948)
Area 4,795[3] dunums
Date of depopulation 25 May 1948/June 1949[4]
Cause(s) of depopulation Whispering campaign
Secondary cause Influence of nearby town's fall
Tertiary cause Expulsion by Jewish forces
Current localities HaGoshrim (ha-Gosherim)

Al-Khisas (also: Khisas, Khissas) (Arabic: الخصاص‎) was a Palestinian Arab village in the District of Safad in Mandate Palestine.[5]


Al-Khisas was located 31 kilometers (19 mi) north northeast of Safad upon a natural terrace about 100 meters (328 ft) wide. The terrace was formed thousands of years earlier after ancient Lake al-Hula receded. To the west of the village was a valley, known as Wadi al-Hasibani through which ran the Hasbani River.[6]

Early history

Evidence of the long history of habitation in the village includes the nearby shrine of a local sage known as al-Shaykh 'Ali and the presence of rock-hewn tombs.[6] The Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi described al-Khisas as falling within the administrative jurisdiction of Banias in Syria. Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in Palestine, al-Khisas was administered as part of a sanjak in the vilayet of Damascus, and was later redesignated a part the vilayet of Sidon (renamed the vilayet of Beirut).[7]

Mandate period

In 1917, al-Khisas lay north of the Sykes Picot line, a straight line between the mid point of the Sea of Galilee and Nahariya in the area to be incorporated under a French sphere of influence. The Syria-Lebanon-Palestine boundary was a product of the post-World War I Anglo-French partition of Ottoman Syria.[8][9] British forces had advanced to a position at Tel Hazor against Turkish troops in 1918 and wished to incorporate all the sources of the river Jordan within the boundaries of British controlled Palestine. Due to the French inability to establish administrative control, the frontier between Syria and Palestine became 'fluid'. Following the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, in the un-ratified Treaty of Sèvres from the San Remo conference, the 1920 boundary extended the area to fall under British control to the north of the Sykes Picot line. In 1920, the French managed to assert influence over the Arab nationalist movement and King Faisal was deposed after the Battle of Maysalun.[10] The international boundary between Palestine and Syria was finally set by joint agreement between Great Britain and France in 1923 in conjunction with the Treaty of Lausanne, after Britain had been given a League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in 1922; thus, al-Khisas came under British jurisdiction.[11]

1947-48 and aftermath

Al-Khisas had previously been selected, along with Na'ima and Jahula by the Palmach (the Hebrew acronym for Plugot Mahatz - Strike Companies) as a target for a Haganah operation which was then cancelled before it was undertaken.[12]

On the morning of 18 December 1947, a Palestinian Arab attack was mounted against a resident of Kibbutz Ma'ayan Barukh as revenge for the shooting of a Palestinian Arab a few days previous and it was this revenge attack that preceded the Palmach attack on al-Khisas mounted at night.[13][14][15]

Haganah authorised the attack believing, erroneously, that the attacker had come from al-Khisas.[16][17] Both Ezra Danin and Gad Machnes of the Arab affairs department advised against the raid as they were of the opinion that the raid would spread fighting to the area which had hitherto been 'quiet'.[18] The Palmach attack centred on two areas; a house in the village proper and the winter mansion of the Emir Faur' (also spelt Emir Faour), the local landlord and leader of the al-Fadel clan.[19][20]

The number of dead has been recorded as 10 (5 men, 1 woman and 4 children); however, the report from the Palmach commander records 12 dead (7 men, 1 woman and 4 children). The raid was reported with criticism by the international press.[21] David Ben-Gurion issued a denial that the raid had been authorised and gave a public apology, but the raid was later included by Ben-Gurion in a list of successful operations.[22] The Yishuv held a meeting on the 1-2 January to discuss the policy of 'retaliatory raids', the outcome of which was a formulation of guidelines by the Jewish High Command for the conduct and execution of retaliatory raids:

"Active self defence by means of strong counter-attacks every where we are attacked, at a time and place of the attack on us, except for holy places, schools, and other objectives of this sort....Not to take the initiative in disturbances, riots, or regions where we have not yet been attacked and which have not yet come under fire; to make an effort to harm [only] the guilty ones and, knowing the impossibility of being meticulous about targeting the right individuals, to be careful to target the right settlement, village or region."[23]

The 11 May 1948 initial exodus from al-Khisas occurred after the Haganah refused a request for an 'agreement'. Following the 25 May 1948 exodus, 55 villagers remained in their homes for just over a year until they were 'transferred' out by Israeli forces, despite having good relations and collaborating with Jewish settlements in the area.[24] During the night of 5-6 June 1949, the village was surrounded by trucks and the villagers were forced into the trucks 'with kicks, curses and maltreatment.' In the words of a Mapam Knesset member, Elizer Peri, who is quoted by Morris: "The remaining villagers said that they had been 'forced with their hands to destroy their dwellings,' and had been treated like 'cattle.' They were then dumped on a bare, sun-scorched hillside near the village of 'Akbara [an abandoned Palestinian Arab village, south of Safad] where they were left 'wandering in the wilderness, thirsty and hungry.' They lived there under inhuman conditions for years afterwards," along with the inhabitants of at least two other villages (Qaddita and al-Ja'una), expelled in similar circumstances.[25] Those expelled remained at 'Akbara for 18 years until agreeing to resettlement in Wadi Hamam.[26]

Kibbutz HaGoshrim was established on the village lands of al-Khisas on 26 September 1948 as part of an Israeli government policy to block the return of Palestinian refugees.[27] The kibbutz opened "a lovely hotel" in the former manor house of Emir Faour, the leader of the al-Fadel tribe and feudal landlord of al-Khisas. According to Benvenisti, the fact sheet of the hotel states, without elaborating that; "In the past this was the winter palace of Emir Faour."[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Benvenisti (2000), p.207
  2. Morris, Benny, (second edition 2004 third printing 2006) The Birth Of The Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-00967-7 p 30
  3. Palestine remembered al-Khisas
  4. Morris, 2004, p. xvi village #5. Also gives causes of depopulation.
  5. al-nakba District of Safad. Silwad, District of Safad. Palestine remembered District of Safad
  6. 6.0 6.1 Khalidi (1992), p. 465
  7. Khatib, Hisham (2003) Palestine and Egypt Under the Ottomans: Paintings, Books, Photographs, Maps and Manuscripts I.B.Tauris, ISBN 1860648886 p 31
  8. Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York: Owl, ISBN 0-8050-6884-8.
  9. MacMillan, Margaret (2001) Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War J. Murray, ISBN 0719559391 pp 392-420
  10. Shapira, Anita (1999) Land and Power; The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881-1948. Stanford University press, ISBN 0-8047-3776-2 pp 98-110
  11. Exchange of Notes Constituting an Agreement respecting the boundary line between Syria and Palestine from the Mediterranean to El Hammé. Paris, March 7, 1923.
  12. Pappé, Ilan, (reprint 2007) The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld Publications Limited, ISBN 978-1-85168-467-0 pp 56-57 Threatening leaflets were distributed in Syrian and Lebanese villages on Palestine's border, warning the population:
    "If the war will be taken to your place, it will cause massive expulsion of the villagers, with their wives and their children. Those of you who do not wish to come to such a fate, I will tell them: in this war there will be merciless killing, no compassion. If you are not participating in this war, you will not have to leave your houses and villages."
    Thereafter, a number of destructive operations were undertaken in select areas throughout rural and urban Palestine. Actions in the countryside were at first hesitant. Three villages in the upper eastern Galilee were selected - Khisas, Na'ima and Jahula - but the operation was cancelled, perhaps because the High Command deemed it as yet too ambitious. The cancellation, however, was partially ignored by the commander of the Palmach in the North, Yigal Allon. Allon wanted to experience an attack on at least one village, and decided to assault al-Khisas.
  13. Benvenisti, Meron (2002) Sacred Landscape; the Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948 University of California Press ISBN 0-520-23422-7 pp 103-104
  14. Morris, Benny, (second edition 2004 third printing 2006) The Birth Of The Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-00967-7 pp 79-80
  15. Finkelstein, Norman G., (Second Edition 2003) Image and reality of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, Verso Press, ISBN 978-1-85984-442-7 pp 83-84
    • According to Morris, the Haganah attack on Khisas in December 1947 - in which a dozen civilians, including four children, were killed - was severely criticised by the Arab Division of the Jewish Agency's Political Department for 'unnecessary spread[ing] the fighting to hitherto quiet area' (Birth p 33). In a note at the back of Birth, Morris presents this description of the events at Khisas:
    An Arab had killed a Jew in a month-old vendetta. The local Palmach commander believed the crime had been 'Political' and decided to retaliate. Local Haganah intelligence service officers and civil leaders appealed against the intended operation, which was also to have included attacks on nearby Al Khisas and two other villages, and obtained a postponement from the Haganah general staff. But the local commanders, who (according to Danin) wanted to 'keep up [their troops'] morale', asked for and obtaining permission from Palmach OC Allon, and attacked Khisas on 18 December. The General staff in Tel Aviv subsequently denied advanced knowledge of the operation. The attacking troops mistakenly blew up a house with civilians in it (p 306 note 12).
    In Morris's bookkeeping, the Haganah attack on al-Khisas counts, not as a 'vengeful massacre' but rather, first, as 'a tale of Haganah inefficiency and trigger-happiness' (ibid.), then, as a 'mistaken attack' (Birth, p 34) and finally as a 'Haganah retaliatory strike' (Birth, p 156). Morris' certainty, based entirely on official Zionist sources, is that the demolition of the house with civilians inside of it was 'mistaken'.
  16. Morris ibid p 343
  17. Benvenisti (2000) Ibid p 103
  18. Morris ibid p 79
  19. Morris ibid p 79
  20. Benvenisti (2000) Ibid p.207
  21. New York Times, 20 December 1947 and 22 December 1947
  22. Pappé, Ilan, (reprint 2007) Ibid p 57
  23. Benvenisti (2000) Ibid p 104
  24. Benvenisti (2000) Ibid pp 206-207
  25. Morris ibid pp 511-512
  26. Benvenisti (2000) Ibid pp 206-207
  27. Morris ibid p 380


External links and references

ar:عرب الخصاص

fa:کشتار الخصاص

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