Al-Shaykh Muwannis

Al-Shaykh Muwannis

Infobox Former Arab villages in Palestine
name=Al-Shaykh Muwannis

arname=الشيخ موّنس
meaning="The Sheikh Muwannis"
altSp=Sheikh Muwannis
date=30 March 1948
curlocl=Tel Aviv

Al-Shaykh Muwannis ( _ar. الشيخ موّنس) was the largest Palestinian Arab town in the the District of Jaffa in British Mandate Palestine. Located approximately 8.5 kilometers from the center of Jaffa city, the Yarkon River flows through what were the agricultural lands of the village.cite web|title=Welcome to Al-Shaykh Muwannis|publisher=Palestine Remembered|accessdate=2007-12-03|url=]

Sheikh Muwannis was located in territory earmarked for Jewish statehood under the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestinecite journal|title="Response to Finkelstein and Masalha"|author=Benny Morris|journal=Journal of Palestine Studies|volume=Vol. 21, No. 1|date=Autumn, 1991|pages=98–114] and it was depopulated prior to the outbreak of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Today, Tel Aviv University lies upon part of the village's former lands.cite book|title="Mixed Towns, Trapped Communities: Historical Narratives, Spatial Dynamics, Gender Relations and Cultural Encounters in Palestinian-Israeli Towns"|author=Daniel Monterescu and Dan Rabinowitz|year=2007|page=298|publisher=Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.|isbn=0754647323]


Before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, approximately 2,000 people lived in the village, which also housed a religious shrine and two sexually-segregated elementary schools. The boy's school was built in 1932 and the girl's school was built in 1943, and a total of 266 students were registered as attending these schools in 1945.cite web|title=Welcome to Al-Shaykh Muwannis|publisher=Palestine Remembered|accessdate=2007-12-03|url=]

The population of the village was largely made up of members of the Abu Kishk tribe who had migrated to Palestine from Egypt in the mid-nineteenth century.cite book|title="The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem"|author=Benny Morris|year=2004|pages=127-128|publisher=Cambridge University Press|isbn=0521009677]

In the 1920s, the Mandatory government attempted to gain title to lands lying to the west of Al-Shaykh Muwannis and extending to the coast of the Mediterranean sea by claiming it was "waste and uncultivated".cite book|title="Constructing a Sense of Place: Architecture and the Zionist Discourse"|author=Haim Yacobi|page=199|year=2004|publisher=Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.|isbn=0754634272] Sandra M. Sufian and Mark LeVine write of how the Palestinian Arabs of the Jaffa-Tel Aviv region, "understood the implications of the Zionist-cum-British discourses of development generally and their implementation through town planning schemes."cite book|title="Reapproaching Borders: New Perspectives on the Study of Israel-Palestine"|author=Sandra M. Sufian and Mark LeVine|page=298|year=2007|publisher=Rowan & Littlefield|isbn=074254639X] The reaction in the Jaffa-based religious daily "al Ja'miah al-Islamiyya" to plans by the Tel Aviv municipality to build a bypass road for Tel Aviv residents on what they claimed as village lands in 1937cite book|title="Constituting Modernity: Private Property in the East and West By Huri İslamoğlu-İnan"|author=Huri İslamoğlu-İnan|year=2004|publisher=I.B.Tauris|isbn=1860649963|page=141] for example, states: " [I] n reality the plan in the Town Planning Commission now including Sheikh Muwannis is not really a 'plan', but rather a plan to take the land out of the hands of its owners."cite book|title="Reapproaching Borders: New Perspectives on the Study of Israel-Palestine"|author=Sandra M. Sufian and Mark LeVine|page=298|year=2007|publisher=Rowan & Littlefield|isbn=074254639X]

Events prior to the outbreak of 1948 Arab-Israeli war

Benny Morris writes that the population of the town in 1948 was largely made up of fellaheen who had traditionally enjoyed friendly relations with Jews. These relations were not always easy. For example, in 1946 three men from the village raped a Jewish girl, and while the court proceedings were ongoing, the Haganah shot and wounded one of the attackers, and kidnapped and castrated another.

Growing hostilities in the lead up to the 1948 war undermined the relationship further, with some villagers beginning to leave the town on 1 December 1947. However, initially most of the villagers stayed put since village representatives had secured an agreement with the Haganah for protection, in exchange for keeping the peace and preventing Arab Liberation Army (ALA) irregulars from the using the village to attack pre-state Israeli forces. While there was the occasional shot fired from the village toward Jewish residential areas in January and February 1948, none of these incidents resulted in any casualties, and the Abu Kishk made good on their promise to refuse ALA irregulars the use of the village. The emissary of the ALA was informed by the Abu Kishk that "the Arabs of the area will cooperate with the Jews against any outside force that tries to enter."

In mid-March, the Alexandroni Brigade of the IDF imposed a 'quarantine' on the village, Abu Kishk and two smaller satellite villages of Jalil al Shamaliyya and Jalil al Qibliya and may even have occupied houses on the edge of village.

On March 12, 1948, the Irgun and Lehi (LHI) groups kidnapped five village notables.cite book|title="The Israel/Palestine Question"|author=Ilan Pappe|year=1999|page=199|publisher=Routledge|isbn=041516947X|url=] The Intelligence Services of the IDF noted that

"many of the villagers ... began fleeing following the abduction of the notables of Sheikh Muwannis. The Arab learned that it was not enough to reach an agreement with the Haganah and that there were 'other Jews' of whom to beware, and possibly to be aware of more than the Haganah, which had not control over them."

Though the notables were turned over to the Haganah on the 23 March and returned to Shaykh Muwannis, most of the villagers there and in other villages north of the Yarkon River continued to leave, as their confidence had been "mortally undermined". Tawfiq Abu Kishk threw a large parting 'banquet' for the remaining villagers and their Jewish friends on the 28 March 1948. After their departure, the village lands were promptly allocated for Jewish use by the Yishuv leaders, and were ultimately incorporated into the municipality of Tel Aviv. In the days following, the Abu Kishk leaders attributed their abandonment of the village to: "a) the [Haganah] roadblocks ... b) the [Haganah] limitations on movement by foot, c) the theft [by Jews?] of vehicles, and d) the last kidnapping of Sheikh Muwannis men by the LHI." The villagers of Shaykh Muwannis became refugees, with the majority taking up residence in Qalqilya and Tulkarem.


According to the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi, the village's remaining structures consist of:

"A number of houses, exhibiting a variety of architectural features, remain; they are occupied by Jewish families. One of them is a two-storey house with a one-storey annex; it is made of cement and has rectangular doors and windows and flat roofs. Another is a two-storey, two-unit, symmetrical house with two front porches on the top floor. Each porch is defined by five lancet arches. A single wall of another house stands alone, topped by a post that supports an electric wire."cite book|title="All that Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948"|year=1992|author=Walid Khalidi|isbn=0887282245]

Tel Aviv University lies on the former lands of Al-Shaykh Muwannis and the former home of the village sheikh serves as the University's faculty club.

In a right of return march organized by the Israeli group "Zochrot" on Nakba Day in 2004, participants called upon the Tel Aviv municipality to name six streets in the city after Palestinian villages that has existed there until 1948, among them, Al-Shaykh Muwannis.cite journal|title="The Threat of Disengagement: Can Israel Separate from the Palestinians?"|journal=Al-Majdal|publisher=Badil|volume=Issue 22|month=June | year=2004|url=]


ee also

*List of villages depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war

External links

* [ Opposition to the demolition of the Beidas House, one of the last remains of Sheikh Muwanis in Tel Aviv] by Esther Zandberg Ha’aretz Aug. 13, 2003
* [ Sheikh Muwanis] 06.12.2003, Zochrot
* [ Tel Aviv University is asked to acknowledge its past and to commemorate the Palestinian village on which grounds the university was built] , Zochrot
* [ A Palestinian Village in the Heart of Tel Aviv?] by Omer Carmon, August 15, 2005, Zochrot

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