Al-Malikiyya Before 1948
The village was located in the mountains of Upper Galilee on the northern slope of a hifi, less than 0.5 km from the Lebanese border. A secondary road linked it to a highway in the east that led to Salad, to other villages, and to the coastal highway, in the west. Al-Malikiyya may have been built on the site of the Byzantine village of Caphargun; it is also possible that this ancient site was occupied by the village of Umm Juniyya, 1 km south of Lake Tiberias. According to the Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi (d. 1228), the people of al-Malikiyya had a wooden platter that they believed was originally owned by the prophet Muhammad. al-Malikiyya was a village in the nahiya of Tibnin (liwa’ of Salad) with a population of 369. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat and barley, as well as on goats and beehives. In the late nineteenth century, travelers described al-Mallkiyya as a village built of stone and mud, lying on a plain to the east of a valley. Well supplied with water from a nearby wadi, the village’s 200 to 300 Inhabitants cultivated olives.
Al-Malikiyya was part of Lebanon until 1923, when the final borders between Palestine and Lebanon were delineated. It had a square configuration and its houses were clustered together. There was a police station near the village to the southeast. Rainwater was collected in wells (including one that was east of the site) and used for domestic purposes. Most of the villagers worked in animal husbandry and agriculture, growing mainly grain, olives, and fruit. In the 1942/43 season, olive trees covered 105 dunums of village land to the north, northeast, south, and southwest of the village. In 1944/45 a total of 4,225 dunums was planted in cereals.
Occupation and Depopulation
Al-Malikiyya changed hands no fewer than five times between May and October 1948. It was first occupied by the Palmach in mid-May before the end of the British Mandate. Palestinian historian Hani al-Hindi states that the village was initially in the hands of the Arab Liberation Army’s Second Yarmuk Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. Adib al-Shishakli, later president of Syria. He reports that al-Malikiyya was seized by the Palmach on the night of 12 May but was retaken by Arab forces the next day. According to al-Hindi, Jewish forces did not regain the village until 29 May.
The New York Times, however, states that Jewish paratroopers were dropped into the village on 15 May, the day on which the British Mandate ended. Lebanese forces soon crossed the border and managed to recapture aJ-Malikiyya later that same day. Subsequently, the Haganah claimed that it had killed 200 Lebanese troops during fighting around the village. On 20 May, Israeli forces made a thrust against the area of al-Malikiyya, according to Israeli sources quoted by the Associated Press. A couple of weeks later, the Haganah devised an elaborate ploy to reoccupy the village. First it mounted an attack against the Lebanese defenders of the village, so that they would be forced to request reinforcements. Then an Israeli column infiltrated into Lebanese territory, using a nearby road, and approached the village from the rear, pretending to be the Lebanese reinforcements. The History of the Haganah states that “The convoy made its way safely, traversing several Lebanese villages, and the inhabitants welcomed it with joy, thinking it was the Lebanese convoy.” On the way, it also met up with the actual Lebanese reinforcements and carried out a devastating surprise assault. Finally, the convoy attacked and reoccupied al-Malikiyya itself in the early morning of 29 May. The Haganah account states that the convoy found the village empty. “With the exception of the enemy dead, a large quantity of ammunition, and a number of French mortars, nothing remained in the place.” The Arab and Zionist accounts differ mainly in the dates cited for these initial battles. Both accounts confirm that the village was in Zionist hands at the end of May 1948. However, the battle for al-Malikiyya was not over. Just over a week later, on 7June, Lebanese forces recaptured the village, and held on to it throughout the summer. The village was at the northeastern corner of the area covered by Operation Hiram (see ‘Arab al-Samrnyya, Acre District). A composite force, drawn from four different Israeli brigades, carried out another operation to regain control of the village. Al-Malikiyya was again taken by surprise. The History of the War of Independence relates that it had been fortified for an attack from the east, but the Ninth Battalion of the Sheva’ Brigade approached from the south and attacked under cover of the Israeli air force, taking the village with ease in late October1948. If some of the villagers had returned, they apparently fled during this final attack, according to Israeli historian Benny Morris.
Israeli Settlements on Village Lands
In 1949, the settlement of Malikiyya was established southeast of the village site, on village lands.
The Village Today
The area is a fenced-in military zone, and the site is inaccessible.
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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