Abu Shusha

Abu Shusha — أبو شُوشَة
Average Elevation
125 m
Distance from Haifa
26 km
Year Arab Total
1931 831
1944/45 720 720
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Public Total
1944/45 5883 3077 8960
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable 13 3077 3090
13 3077 3090 (34%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Total
Plantation and Irrigable 931 931
Cereal 4939 4939
5870 5870 (66%)
Number of Houses (1931)

The village was located on both sides of a small, wide wadi on the western edge of the plain of Marj ibn Amir. It was west of the archaeological site of Tall Abu Shusha. The village was linked to Haifa and Jenin by the highway that ran between these two cities. It has recently been suggested that Tall Abu Shusha might be identified with the Roman town of Gaba Hippeon. The tell is a large and old site that appears to date to the Early Bronze Age. In the late nineteenth century, Abu Shusha was described as a small hamlet, on the edge of a plain, that drew its water from a spring to the west. Some of its houses were built of masonry and had roofs of mud and straw, whereas others were made of concrete. Its population was Muslim. Abu Shusha had a mosque and an elementary school. Water was available from many sources, including two wadis and a spring which supplied water for domestic use.

The village economy was centered on animal husbandry and agriculture, grain being the main crop. The villagers also grew vegetables, tobacco, and various types of fruit trees, including nearly 600 dunums of olive trees. Agriculture was both rainfed and irrigated, with irrigation being especially important for vegetables. A grain mill, named after the village, was situated on the northeastern edge of the site. In 1944/45 a total of 4,939 dunums was allotted to cereals; 931 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards. The archaeological evidence in the village, on Tall Abu Shusha, and on Abu Shusha's lands as well, contained numerous indications of a long and rich cultural past.

In early April 1948 Abu Shusha was raided by units of the Giv'ati Brigade's Second Battalion. The History of the Haganah states that a guard from a nearby Jewish settlement was killed on land belonging to the village, and orders were issued to carry out a 'retaliatory operation.' After midnight on 1 April, the unit destroyed one house and the village well. After the mission was completed, a firefight ensued with units of the local Palestinian militia, in which one Jewish soldier was fatally wounded. The History makes no mention of Arab casualties.

Later, Abu Shusha became one of the first villages of Marj ibn Amir to fall in the wake of the battle of Mishmar ha-Emeq. The battle began on 4 April 1948 when the Arab Liberation Army (ALA) launched an offensive aimed at occupying the Jewish kibbutz of Mishmar ha-Emeq. This was probably in retaliation for the role of the settlement in the attack on al-Ghubayya al-Tahta. The New York Times called the ALA attack 'the greatest pitched battle yet fought in four and a half months of fighting in Palestine.' It failed in its objective. After the ALA's attack on the settlement ended in a standoff, a truce was proposed with British mediation, but the Haganah rejected the offer. The Haganah commanders decided instead to counterattack extensively, occupying and destroying the surrounding villages. The New York Times reported that on the night of 8-9 April, units of the Haganah that had been besieged in Mishmar ha-Emeq broke out, occupying three villages: Abu Shusha, Abu Zurayq, and al-Naghnaghiyya. The units involved belonged to the First Battalion of the Palmach and to the Carmeli and Alexandroni Brigades.

Writing about the villages captured in the battle of Mishmar ha-Emeq, a high-ranking official of the Jewish National Fund stated: 'Our army is steadily conquering Arab villages and the inhabitants are afraid and flee like mice.' By 12 April five villages around Mishmar ha-Emeq had been occupied by Palmach forces, and by 14 April ten villages were in Palmach hands.

Israeli historian Benny Morris indicates that those villagers who had not fled were expelled and that each village was systematically destroyed on the night it was occupied. But the New York Times reports that Abu Shusha was evacuated again on the night of 11-12 April, only to be reoccupied on 12 April. In Abu Shusha, the Haganah blew up 'many' houses as a 'punitive measure,' in the words of the Times correspondent. Having seized the village, Zionist forces gained control of the Jenin-Haifa road.

The settlement of Mishmar ha-Emeq, founded in 1926, is less than 1 km south of the site but is not on village land.

The only remaining sign of the village is the debris of houses, overgrown with cactuses. The grain mill is gone. On the hilly lands around the site, olive trees grow in a fenced-in area that serves as a pasture. The adjacent lands in Marj ibn Amir are planted in various crops, especially cotton.