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  • the Arab inhabitants of the Palestinian village of Hawsha, which was depopulated in 1948, kept a shrine named for the prophet Joshua?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Remains of Hawsha in the winter of 2010
Hawsha is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic هوشة
Name Meaning Joshua[1]
Also Spelled Husha, Khirbat Husha, Khǔrbet Hǔsheh
District Haifa
Coordinates 32°47′33.25″N 35°08′36.50″E / 32.7925694°N 35.143472°E / 32.7925694; 35.143472Coordinates: 32°47′33.25″N 35°08′36.50″E / 32.7925694°N 35.143472°E / 32.7925694; 35.143472
Population 580 (400 Arabs, 180 Jews) (1945)
Area 901 (all but 7 dunums was owned by Jews by 1944-45)[2] dunums

0.9 km²

Date of depopulation mid-April, 1948[3]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Jewish forces

Hawsha (Arabic: هوشة‎, Hǔsheh, also Husha) was a Palestinian village located 13 kilometers (8 mi) east of Haifa, about 100 meters (328 ft) above sea level. It contained a maqam (shrine) for Nabi Hushan, and a number of ancient ruins, including rock-cut tombs, and a mosaic floor.[2]

In 1945, it had a population of 580 inhabitants, 400 of whom were Arab Muslims and 180 of whom were Jewish. The built-up area of the village was 50 dunums, and 717 dunums were used for agriculture. All but 7 dunums were owned by Jews by this time.[2]

Hawsha was depopulated during the 1948 Palestine War on April 16, 1948 as part of the Battle of Ramat Yohanan.



The village was located on a low hilly area between the plain of Haifa and Marj ibn Amr (Jezreel Valley) and situated on an east-west axis. To the west, lay a wide valley (Wadi Husheh) that was the dividing area between it and the neighboring village of Khirbat al-Kasayir.[2][4] Leopold Zunz, and researchers from the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF), among others, have connected Hawsha to the biblical village of Usha, a border settlement of the Israelite tribe of Asher (Book of Joshua 29:19) and the seat of the Sanhedrin after 135 AD.[2][5][6][7]

The village contained many ancient ruins, parts of which were used to build some village structures, including a shrine known as Maqam Nabi Hushan, a well (Bir Husheh), and tombstones.[2][8] William M. Thomson, writing in 1859, identifies the shrine as Neby Hǔshǎ, which he translates as the "Prophet Joshua," and describes it as a "white-domed mazar [...] a place of great resort."[1] In the Survey of Western Palestine (1838), it is noted that the Prophet Hosea is said to be buried near "Kh. Husheh."[6][i] Also in the village was a mosaic floor from an ancient building.[2]

Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Hawsha's lands belonged to the inhabitants of Shefa 'Amr. In an 1889 quarterly statement for the PEF, the ancient ruins of Hawsha are described as follows: "This ruin [...] must have been an important place, to judge from the mass of building stones and the fragments of columns lying about. Now that the grass is dried up a regular city wall can be traced. On the main road running from the well towards the ruin some fine capitals are lying about, which have a close resemblance to those which on other sites have been stated to be remains of synagogues. The shafts of columns lying about generally have the basis or capital worked out of the same piece, have a diameter of 18 inches, and are composed of Nari limestone."[9]

In the same report, it is noted that the water of Bir Husheh, located at the western edge of the ruin, is praised by the locals for its "excellence." Older inhabitants relayed how Djezzar Pasha and 'Abdallah Pasha, former Governors of 'Acca, had their drinking water supplied from the well, and tended to camp by the well during their trips to the interior.[9] Also mentioned in the report is a Greek language inscription found on a flat stone 508 meters (1,667 ft) to the east of the eastern city wall of the ancient city and 100 meters (328 ft) to the west of a small olive grove, in a rocky region just to the south of a road leading to Shefa 'Amr. The inscription was discovered by natives of Shefa 'Amr who showed to Père Julien, a priest from Beirut, who in turn shared it Herr Schumacher of the PEF.[9]

Hawsha was categorized as a hamlet in the Mandate-era Palestine Index Gazetteer. The houses were clustered around the water cistern at the center of the village. The Muslim inhabitants shared a cemetery with Khirbat al-Kasayir. The villagers were agriculturalists and pastoralists who raised livestock. Beans were the most important agricultural product. The agricultural area of the village lay to the southwest. A small area north of the built up part of the village was planted with olive and fruit trees.[2]

In 1937, the Jewish settlement of Hosha was established 2 kilometers (1 mi) west of Hawsha.[2]

Nabi Hushan shrine
A small one-storey structure with whitewashed walls, topped with a light blue dome, with trees to its right and left. An unpaved walkway lined with stones leads to it and to the right of the walkway, similar stones mark the site of burial places.
Nabi Hushan shrine in the cemetery that was used by the villagers of Hawsha and al-Kayasir. 
A closeup of a plaque with large Arabic script. There is more Arabic script inside a small gold-framed picture to the left of the plaque and a golden octagonal amulet hanging to the right of it.
Plaque over the doorway of the entrance to shrine. It reads: "Shrine of the Prophet Hushan, peace be upon him." 
A rounded wall with a rounded enclave, on the floor are a number of framed pictures and a chalkboard with Arabic script.
Part of the interior of the Nabi Hushan shrine. The chalkboard message on the right reads: "O ye inside this house [of prayer], pray to the Chosen Prophet [i.e. Muhammad]." 

1948 war and aftermath

In mid-April 1948, there was a battle between the Haganah and the Arab Legion forces that was concentrated around Hawsha and Khirbat al-Kasayir, according to the Haganah archives.[2] Known as the Battle of Ramat Yohanan, after the Jewish settlement bloc close to where it was fought, it is known by Palestinian historians as the 'Battle of al-Husha and al-Kayasr', after the Palestinian villages that were conquered by the Haganah forces by the battle's end.[10] The Arab inhabitants who remained in the village following its conquest were evicted in the months following the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, as were the inhabitants of neighboring villages whose lands were coveted for Jewish settlement.[11]

A volunteer effort to restore the cemetery of the depopulated village of Hawsha was undertaken in 1994 and overseen by Al-Aqsa Association.[12]

Hawsha-al-Kayasir cemetery
White headstones with Arabic inscriptions dot the ground, as well as rocks outlining burial spots devoid of inscriptions. There are a number of olive trees, among other types.
A view of the cemetery shared by the villages of Hawsha and al-Kayasir prior their depopulation. 
Two graves marked by the laying of square cut stones side by side, two on top of each other, among other headstones surrounded by trees.
Another view of the cemetery. 
Close up view of the inscription of a rock that does not seem to have been worked on by a stonemason, given its irregular shape and unsmoothed surface.
Arabic inscription of a headstone for a grave in the cemetery which reads: "In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful ... Il-Marhoum ('the mercifully departed') Hussein Abid [last name unclear] 1175 12 17." 


i.   ^ Hoshea or Hosea is used to refer to different biblical characters: Joshua, whose name was changed from Hoshea/Hosea ("salvation") to Joshua ("Yahweh is salvation") by Moses; Hosea, the prophet mentioned in the Book of Hosea; and Hoshea, ruler of the Kingdom of Israel.[13][14]


  1. ^ a b Thomson, 1859, p. 397.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Khalidi, 1992, p. 162.
  3. ^ Morris, 2004, p.xvii, village #382. Also gives cause of depopulation.
  4. ^ PEF and Stewardson, 1838, p. 153.
  5. ^ Tudela, Zunz, and Lebrecht, 1841, p. 428.
  6. ^ a b PEF and Stewardson, 1838, p. 35.
  7. ^ Driver, 2004, p. 653.
  8. ^ PEF and Stewardson, 1838, p. 86.
  9. ^ a b c "Quarterly Statement for 1889". Palestine Exploration Fund. 1889. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  10. ^ Parsons in Nettler and Taji-Farouki, 1998, p. 145.
  11. ^ Benvenisti, 2002, p. 205.
  12. ^ Masalha, 2005, p. 103.
  13. ^ Gesenius, 1844, pp. 253-4.
  14. ^ Walvoord and Zuck, 1983, p. 229.



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