Ijzim

Ijzim

Ijzim (إجزم) was a Palestinian village located in the Haifa district of British Mandate Palestine, 19.5 kilometers south of the city, that was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Many of its Arab inhabitants ended up as refugees in Jenin after a group of Israeli special forces composed of members of the Golani, Carmeli and Alexandroni Brigades attacked the village in Operation Shoter on 24 July 1948.

Overview

Families from Ijzim include the Madis, the Nabhanis and the Alhassans with the majority of the families derived from the Bani Nabhan tribe. Collectively, they owned over 40,000 dunams (40 km²) of land and were considered one of the richest villages in Palestine.

History, pre-1948

In 1596 Ijzim was a village in the nahiya of Shafa (liwa´ of Lajjun), with a population of fifty-five. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat, barley, and olives as well as on other types of produce, such as goats and beehives.

During the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century, the Banu Madi were the most influential family in Southern Galilee and on the coast. The "area of origin" of the Madi family was the coastal region south of Carmel and the Western slopes of Jabal Nablus. Ijzim was the family´s primary seat and at the time the largest locality in the region. The heyday of the family appears to have been in the period between the end of Jazzar Pasha´s rule (1804) and the Egyptian occupation (1831). Mas´ud al-Madi was the governor of Gaza at the time of the Egyptian invasion. He lost his life because of his participation in the anti-Egyptian uprising in 1834, while other clan members were put to prison and some were able to flee to Constantinople. After the return of the Ottomans, some family members were appointed as shaykhs or governors in Ijzim, Haifa, and Safad. Yet by 1850´s the al-Madi family of Ijzim no longer constituted a local power like some families of Nablus or Hebron.

1948, and after

Ijzim was a key point of activity in the Little Triangle for the Palestinian armed revolt against the Jewish community and the British Mandatory authorities. Jewish forces had twice attempted to capture to village unsuccessfully. Their third attempt on the 24 July 1948 involved the use of cannon fire and air strikes in a fierce battle that lasted two days.

With the conquest of Ijzim, the majority of the villagers either were expelled or fled. The majority ended up in the Jenin area, on the other side of the armistice lines drawn in 1949. Others took refuge in the nearby Druze village of Daliyat al-Carmel. There were several dozen people from Ijzim that were allowed to remain in their homes due to connections they enjoyed with influential Jews. These individuals continued to work their fertile land, sending the agricultural produce to Haifa. They were registered in the first Israeli census and received Israeli identity cards.

In December 1948, the Jewish protectors of the residents of Ijzim and the Haifa district military commander had a dispute over the villagers' continued presence there. It was decided that the villagers that had remained in Ijzim could stay and those who had taken refuge in Daliyat al-Carmel would be permitted to return. However, the district commander later went back on his word and ordered the eviction of the villagers, who then took shelter in the nearby village of Fureidis.

Meron Benvenisti submits that one of the considerations leading to the eviction of the inhabitants of Ijzim was the interest of settlement agency officials in turning Ijzim into an immigrant moshav. In the summer of 1949, just a few months after the villagers had been evicted, a moshav made up of immigrants from Czechoslovakia and Romania was established in Ijzim.

Unlike many other depopulated Palestinian villages where new permanent Jewish settlements were built adjacent to the houses of the former Arab villages, which were then demolished, the homes of Ijzim were maintained for habitation by the new immigrants. The al-Madi family's luxurious seventeenth-century madafeh was transformed into a museum and then the home of a Jewish family, the village school became a synagogue, and the village cemetery, a public park. The large village mosque, constructed in the nineteenth century, was left to fall into dereliction.

Some of the villagers of Ijzim attempted to hold onto their land, living for a few years in tin-roofed shacks and other temporary structures. However, all of them — with the exception of one family — finally broke down and agreed to exchange their land holdings in Ijzim for building plots in the village of Fureidis. The one Arab family that withstood the pressure to leave continues to live in its own house beside a sacred spring called Sitt Maqura, where today both Arabs and Jews come to pray and light candles.

People from Ijzim:

See also

References

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