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Abil al-Qamh (Arabic: آبل القمح‎) was a Palestinian village located near the Lebanese border north of Safad. It was depopulated in 1948.[4] It was located at the site of the biblical city of Abel-beth-maachah.

Abil al-Qamh

آبل القمح

Abil al-Mayya
Etymology: "Meadow of Wheat"
Abil al-Qamh is located in Mandatory Palestine
Abil al-Qamh
Abil al-Qamh
Coordinates: 33°15′34″N 35°34′51″E / 33.25944°N 35.58083°E / 33.25944; 35.58083Coordinates: 33°15′34″N 35°34′51″E / 33.25944°N 35.58083°E / 33.25944; 35.58083
Palestine grid204/296
Geopolitical entityMandatory Palestine
Date of depopulationMay 10, 1948[3]
 • Total4,615 dunams (4.6 km2 or 1.8 sq mi)
 • Total330[1][2]
Cause(s) of depopulationFear of being caught up in the fighting
Secondary causeInfluence of nearby town's fall
Current LocalitiesYuval


According to Khalidi, its Arabic name derives from Aramaic; the first part of its name, abil, means "meadow" and the latter part, qamh, means "wheat".[4] According to Palmer, who wrote in the 19th century when the name of the village was Abl, it was probably derived from the biblical name Abel Beth Maachah.[5]


Bronze Age and Iron AgeEdit

Abil al-Qamh was established on a site that had been inhabited since 2900 BCE and remained populated for over 2,000 years. It was captured by Thutmose III in 1468 BCE. During the Israelite period, under the reign of David, it was fortified, and later conquered by the Arameans. In 734 BCE it was incorporated into the Assyrian Empire.[4][6]

Byzantine periodEdit

Ceramics from the Byzantine era have been found here.[7]

Mamluk periodEdit

Under Mamluk rule in 1226 CE, Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi mentions "Abil al Kamh" as a village belonging to Banias, between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea.[8]

Ottoman periodEdit

In 1517, Abil al-Qamh was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire, and by 1596 it was under the administration of the nahiya ("subdistrict") of Tibnin, part of Sanjak Safad, and went under the name of Abil al-Qamh, with a population of 24 families and 2 bachelors, an estimated 143 persona. All the villagers were Muslim. They paid a fixed tax rate of 25% on wheat, barley, olives, beehives, vineyards, goats and beehives; a total of 1,846 Akçe.[9][10]

In 1838 it was noted as Catholic village in the Mejr Ayun district.[11]

In 1875 Victor Guérin visited the place, which he called Tell Abel Kamah.[12] On the highest point, to the north, he found the ruins of a wall and a Muslim cemetery.[13] In 1881, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described the village as being near a stream, and containing a church and ancient ruins.[14]

British MandateEdit

Abil al-Qamh was a part of the French Mandate of Lebanon until 1923 when it was incorporated into the British Mandate in Palestine. In the first half of the 20th century, it had a triangular outline that conformed to the hill on which it was built. Agriculture was the basis of its economy, and the village's abundant water supply earned it the local name of Abil al-Mayya meaning the "Meadow of Water".[4]

In the 1931 census of Palestine Abil al-Qamh had a total population of 229; 122 Muslims and 107 Christians, in a total of 58 houses.[15]

In the 1945 statistics the population was 330; 320 Muslims and 100 Christians,[2] with a total of 4,615 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey.[1] The village had a mixed population of 230 Shia Muslims and 100 Arab Christians.[2][4][16] A total of 3,535 dunums of land were allocated to cereals; 299 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards,[4][17] while 13 dunams was built-up (urban) area.[18]

1948 and aftermathEdit

Abil al-Qamh was captured and depopulated on May 10, 1948, by the First Battalion of the Palmach commanded by Yigal Allon in Operation Yifatch. There was no fighting in the village, but after the fall of Safad to Israel and from a "whispering campaign" by local Jewish leaders to the heads of Arab villages (makhatir) warning them of massive Jewish reinforcements arriving in the Galilee, the residents of Abil al-Qamh fled.[4]

In 1952, Israel established the town of Yuval on village lands, 1.5 kilometers (0.93 mi) from the village site. The site itself is "overgrown with grasses and weeds. A grove of trees stands in the northeast corner, and stones from destroyed houses are strewn throughout the site...," according to Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi in 1992.[19]

In recent years, the Lebanese Authorities has claimed that Abil al-Qamh and six other depopulated Shia villages along the border belong to Lebanon.[20]

The two mounds belonging to the archaeological site known as Tell Abil el-Qameḥ in Arabic and Tel Abel Beth Maacah in Hebrew have been surveyed in 2012 and have since been excavated in annual campaigns (four as of 2016).[21]


The inhabitants of Abil al-Qamh fled to the neighbouring Lebanese Christian villages, specially the village of Deirmimas where most of them later acquired Lebanese passports; still living in Deirmimas are for instance the families of Abdo, Keserwany, Harfouch, and Haddad.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 69 Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b c Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 9
  3. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xvi, village #1. Also gives causes of depopulation.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Khalidi, 1992, p.428
  5. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 13
  6. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 96
  7. ^ Dauphin, 1998, p. 641
  8. ^ al-Hamawi quoted in le Strange, 1890, p.381
  9. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 183, quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 428.
  10. ^ Note that Rhode, 1979, p. 6 writes that the register that Hütteroth and Abdulfattah studied was not from 1595/6, but from 1548/9
  11. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol. 3, p. 347, 2nd appendix. pp. 136-137
  12. ^ Guérin, 1880, pp. 346 -349
  13. ^ Guérin, 1880, pp. 346 -349; as given by Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 107
  14. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, pp. 85,86. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 428
  15. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 105
  16. ^ United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, Appendix B Archived 2012-06-09 at the Wayback Machine, p. 4
  17. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 118
  18. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 168
  19. ^ Khalidi, 1992, pp.428-429.
  20. ^ Lamb, Franklin. Completing The Task Of Evicting Israel From Lebanon 2008-11-18.
  21. ^ Tel Abel Beth Maacah Excavations (official website)


External linksEdit