PLace

Miska

Place
Miska — مِسْكَة
District
Samaria
Average Elevation
50 m
Subdistrict
Tulkarm
Distance from Tulkarm
15 km
Population
Year Arab Jews Total
1944/45 880 180 1060
1931 635
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Jewish Public Total
1944/45 * 4924 2976 176 8076
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total) *
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable * 172 176 348
Built-up ** 88 14 102
260 14 176 450 (6%)
Cultivable (Total) **
Use Arab Jewish Total
Cereal * 3245 1683 4928
Plantation and Irrigable ** 304 83 387
Citrus and Bananas *** 1115 1196 2311
4664 2962 7626 (94%)
Number of Houses (1931)
123

The village stood on a slightly elevated, sandy hill on the coastal plain, along the north bank of a wadi. It was linked by secondary roads to the highway leading to Tulkarm and to the coastal highway. The village may have been founded by descendants of the Arabian tribe of Miska whose members immigrated to the area prior to, and in the early days of, the Islamic conquest. The identification of the village with this tribe is uncertain, however. Moreover, another village with the same name but at a different location (182187) existed in 1596, in the nahiya of Jabal Shami, liwa' of Nablus. According to the Arab chronicler al-Safadi (d. 1362), a number of Islamic scholars have attributed their origins to Miska, including the grammarian and prosodist 'Abd al-Mun'im al-Miski (al-Iskandarani), who died in Cairo in 1235. According to the Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi (d. 1228), Miska was also known for its fruit, especially the misk (musk) apple variety which was said to have been transferred to Egypt by the Fatimid vizier al-Hasan al-Yazuri, who died in 1058 (see Yazur, Jaffa District). The French commander Kléber and his troops passed by the village on their way to Acre during the Napoleonic invasion in 1799.

In the late nineteenth century, Miska was a small village whose population was estimated at 300. Olive trees were planted to the north and south, and fig and palm trees were scattered throughout the village. The plan of the village was roughly square and was divided into four unequal sections by two streets that intersected at the village center. New houses, built in the last years of the British Mandate, were located to the north, away from the wadi. The population was Muslim, and maintained a mosque and an elementary school. Some parts of the surrounding lands had been forests but had been cleared and planted with fruit trees. Water resources, especially wells, were relatively abundant around the village. The water supported citrus cultivation over large portions of the village lands. In 1944 a total of 1,115 dunums was devoted to citrus and bananas and 3,245 dunums were allotted to cereals; 304 additional dunums were also irrigated or used for the growing of other fruit trees. Grain, greens, cucumbers, and watermelons were also grown. To the southwest lay a tell, Dhahrat al-Sawwana (142178), which produced evidence of a prehistoric settlement.

Haganah officers reportedly ordered the villagers to leave on 15 April 1948, but the order was not heeded. A few days later, on 20-21 April, units of the Alexandroni Brigade attacked Miska and forcibly expelled its inhabitants. This was done within the framework of an earlier decision by the Haganah command to ensure the evacuation of all Arab communities from the coastal area between Tel Aviv and Zikhron Ya'aqov south of Haifa in the weeks before 15 May.

In early June, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) set about destroying this village, along with a number of others. This was done despite some opposition from the left-wing Israeli party Mapam. By 16 June, Israeli prime minister Ben-Gurion was able to write in his diary that the destruction of Miska was proceeding. However, Ben-Gurion carefully avoided giving the JNF written permission for the destruction of Miska and other villages, presumably to avoid implication in the action.

Sde Warburg (141179) was established in 1938 on lands that had traditionally belonged to the village. Mishmeret (142181), established in 1946, is also close to the site, to the northwest, on village lands. Ramat ha-Kovesh (144180), founded in 1932, is about 1 km due west of the site, though not on village lands.

The site is covered with citrus groves; cactuses grow along the perimeter of these groves. The two-room school still stands and is used as housing for the watchmen who guard the orchards. The mosque serves as a storehouse for bales of hay and agricultural tools. The large cement fragments of a demolished enclosure built around the village well are visible. Most of the surrounding land has been planted by Israelis with citrus trees.