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Umm al-Faraj

Umm al-Faraj
Remains at Umm al-Faraj, 2015
Arabic أُم الفرج
Name meaning The ruin with the gap, or chink[1]
Also spelled Um el-Faraj, La Fierge
Subdistrict Acre

33°00′17.76″N 35°07′15.83″E / 33.0049333°N 35.1210639°E / 33.0049333; 35.1210639Coordinates: 33°00′17.76″N 35°07′15.83″E / 33.0049333°N 35.1210639°E / 33.0049333; 35.1210639{{#coordinates:33|00|17.76|N|35|07|15.83|E|type:city_region:IL |primary |name=

Palestine grid 162/267
Population 800[2] (1945)
Area 825[2] dunams
Date of depopulation 21 May 1948[3]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces
Current localities Ben Ami

Umm al-Faraj (Arabic: أم الفرج‎, known to the Crusaders as La Fierge) was a Palestinian village, depopulated in 1948.


The village was situated on a flat spot in the Acre plain, Script error: No such module "convert". northeast of Acre.[4]


The village was known to the Crusaders as Le Fierge, and belonged to the fief of Casal Imbert.[4] In 1253 King Henry granted the whole estate of Casal Imbert, including Le Fierge, to John of Ibelin.[5] Shortly after, in 1256, John of Ibelin leased Az-Zeeb and all its depending villages (including Le Fierge) to the Teutonic Order for 10 years.[6] In 1261, Az-Zeeb, together with Le Fierge and Le Quiebre, were sold to the Teutonic Order, in return for an annual sum for as long as Acre was in Christian hands.[7] In 1283 it was still a part of the Crusader states, as it was mentioned as part of their domain in the hudna between the Crusaders based in Acre and the Mamluk sultan Qalawun.[8]

According to al-Maqrizi, it had come under Mamluk rule in 1291, when it was mentioned under the name of Farah when sultan al-Ashraf Khalil allocated the village's income to a charitable organization in Cairo.[9][10]

Ottoman era

In 1799, in the late Ottoman period, the village was called El Fargi on the map of Pierre Jacotin.[11] An inscription in marble, built into the wall above the gate of the village mosque, dates this building to 1254 H, (1838-39 C.E.).[12]

In May 1875, the French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village. He described it as being surrounded by "delightful" gardens, irrigated with water from Nahr al-Mafshukh. Many houses were build with great care, and some had old pieces of stone built into them. All the villagers were Muslim.[13] In 1881, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described it as being built of stone and with a population of 200. The villagers planted fig, olive, mulberry and pomegranate trees.[14]

British Mandate era

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities Umm al Faraj had a population of 322, all Muslims,[15] increasing in the 1931 census to 415, 2 Christians and 413 Muslims, in a total of 94 houses.[16] The older houses in the village were built close together and formed a circle, while the homes build after 1936 were scattered among the orchards.[4] The population of Umm al-Faraj lived by agriculture.[4]

In 1945, the population of Umm al-Faraj was 800, all Arabs, with a total land area of 825 dunams.[2] In 1944/45 a total of Script error: No such module "convert". was used for citrus and bananas, Script error: No such module "convert". were used for cereals, while Script error: No such module "convert". were irrigated or used for orchards,[4][17] while 15 dunams were built-up (urban) areas.[18]

1948 War and aftermath

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Umm al-Faraj was assaulted by Israel's Carmeli Brigade in the second stage of Operation Ben'Ami. The operational order, issued 19 May 1948, was to "attack with the aim of conquest, the killing of adult males, destruction and torching."[19] The assault came on the 20–21 May 1948, when Carmeli forces attacked Umm al-Faraj together with Kabri, al Tell and Nahar, and then "demolished them," according to Morris.[20]

The Israeli settlement of Ben Ami was established in 1949, in part on village land.[21]

The Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi described the village remains in 1992: "Only the stone mosque remains. It is shut and stands in a state of decay amid tall wild grass. Many trees that might predate the village's destruction can be seen. The nearby lands are cultivated; a banana grove belongs to the Ben Ammi settlement."[21]

See also


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 50
  2. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 41
  3. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xvii, village #83. Morris also gives cause of depopulation.
  4. ^ a b c d e Khalidi, 1992, p.34
  5. ^ Strehlke, 1869, pp. 84-85, No. 105; cited in Röhricht, 1893, RRH, p. 318, No. 1208; cited in Frankel, 1988, p. 264
  6. ^ Röhricht, 1893, RRH, p. 328, No. 1250; cited in Frankel, 1988, p. 264
  7. ^ Strehlke, 1869, pp. 106-7, No. 119; cited in Röhricht, 1893, RRH, pp. 341-2, No. 1307
  8. ^ The al-Qalqashandi version of the hudna, referred in Barag, 1979, p. 204
  9. ^ al-Maqrizi, 1845, vol 2, p. 131
  10. ^ Barag, 1979, p. 203
  11. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 160
  12. ^ Sharon, 1999, pp. 170 -171
  13. ^ Guérin, 1880, pp. 45 -46
  14. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p.147. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p.34
  15. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Acre, p. 36
  16. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 105
  17. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 81
  18. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 131
  19. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 253, note 727
  20. ^ Morris, 2004, pp. 253-254, note 729
  21. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, p. 35



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