Saliha Before 1948
The village stood on a plain at the edge of a steep wadi, called Wadi Saliha ; it was in the Upper Galilee Mountains next to the Lebanese border. A path linked it to two roads, one leading to the coastal highway and another going to Safad. In the late nineteenth century Saliha was a village of about 200 people who cultivated gardens in the surrounding area and built their homes out of basalt stones mortared with mud. They took their drinking water from several cisterns and a large pond.
Its population was predominantly Muslim. it had an elementary school for boys. In 1944/ 45 a total of 7,401 dunums of its land was allocated to cereals; 422 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. Artifacts in the village included rock-cut tombs, traces of mosaic floors, and oil presses. The nearby Khirbat al-Sanifa also contained ancient relics, such as a circular pressing floor.
Occupation and Depopulation
Citing Arab military sources in Amman, the United Press reported that Saliha (along with Kafr Bir’im) was occupied by Israeli forces on 18 May. The occupation may have been only temporary, because Israeli sources cited by historian Benny Morris state that a massacre was perpetrated at Saliha on 30 October 1948, at the end of Operation Hiram (see ‘Arab al-Samniyya, Acre District).
An account of the October massacre was given by Israel Galili, the former head of the Haganah National Staff, to a meeting of Mapam party officials. Gaul briefed the meeting on a number of atrocities committed during Operation Hiram, especially by the Sheva’ (Seventh) Brigade. He said that at Saliha, ninety-four people “were blown up with a house.” The Sheva’ Brigade had been ordered to proceed from the village of Sa’sa’ in a northeast direction, to occupy al-Malikiyya. Along the way, its forces “encountered light resistance” near Saliha, according to the History of the War of Independence. But the Haganah account gives no details of the military action taken in response. If any villagers survived the Saliha massacre, they were probably expelled, along with the residents of most border villages.
Israeli Settlements on Village Lands
Israel founded the settlement of Yir’on on the village site in 1949. In 1960, the settlement of Avivim was constructed on village lands, northeast of the village site.
The Village Today
The only remaining landmark is a long building (which may have been a school) with many high windows. The site is a flat, mostly cultivated area. The bulk of surrounding land is planted by Israeli farmers with apple trees.
Source: al-Khalidi, Walid (ed.). All that remains: the Palestinian villages occupied and depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington DC: 1992.
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