Qaqun (Arabic: قاقون‎) was a Palestinian Arab village located 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) northwest of the city of Tulkarm at the only entrance to Mount Nablus from the coastal Sharon plain.[7]



Quaquo, Caco, Chaco, Kâkôn, Kakoun
In the Crusader period, a castle called Caco or Cacho stood here, of which an 8.5m tower survives.[1]
In the Crusader period, a castle called Caco or Cacho stood here, of which an 8.5m tower survives.[1]
Etymology: from personal name[2]
Qaqun is located in Mandatory Palestine
Coordinates: 32°21′36″N 34°59′43″E / 32.36000°N 34.99528°E / 32.36000; 34.99528Coordinates: 32°21′36″N 34°59′43″E / 32.36000°N 34.99528°E / 32.36000; 34.99528
Palestine grid149/196
Geopolitical entityMandatory Palestine
Date of depopulation5 June 1948[5]
 • Total41,767 dunams (41.767 km2 or 16.126 sq mi)
 • Total1,970[3][4]
Cause(s) of depopulationMilitary assault by Yishuv forces
Current LocalitiesHaMa'apil,[6] Gan Yoshiya,[6] Ometz,[6] ´Olesh,[6] Haniel,[6] Yikon[6]

Evidence of organized settlement in Qaqun dates back to the period of Assyrian rule in the region. Ruins of a Crusader and Mamluk castle still stand at the site.[8] Qaqun was continuously inhabited by Arabs since at least as early as the Mamluk period[8] and was depopulated during a military assault by Israeli forces during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.


Ancient and classicalEdit

Assyrian artifacts have been discovered in Qaqun.[9] Among these are fragments of stelae recording the victory of Sargon II over the Philistine city-states in the 8th century BC, providing evidence of the establishment of Assyrian rule in Palestine.[10]

In the 1st century AD, Antipas, like others close to the Herodians who ruled over parts of the region at the time, was granted dominion over large areas of land. One of the gifts (doreai) he received was a parcel of land located in the Plain of Sharon which included Qaqun, among other villages.[11]

Crusader periodEdit

In the Crusader period, a castle called Caco or Cacho stood here, of which an 8.5m tower survives.[12][1] In 1160, Benjamin of Tudela visited Qaqun which he identified as being ancient Keilah.[13] It was mentioned in 1253 when it apparently still was held by the lord of Caesarea, John Aleman.[14]

Mamluk eraEdit

Qaqun was captured by the Mamluk sultan Ruqn al-Din Baybars (1259–1277) in 1267. Under Mamluk rule, Qaqun was the capital of one of six districts that made up the province of as-Sham, the Mamluk administrative unit for a part of the governorship of "Mamlakat Gaza", one of the region's three Mamluk administrative governorships, the other two being "Mamlakat Dimashq" (Damascus) and "Mamlakat Zafad" (Safed).[15] Qaqun and also Lyyda appeared to be independent provinces later in this period.[15] Baybars had ordered its fortress rebuilt and had its church renovated and made into a mosque. Its markets were re-established, and it soon became a commercial center with a caravanserai for merchants, travelers, and their animals.[16] While early scholarship often attributed the construction of the fortress to Crusaders, both the fortress and mosque at Qaqun are now thought to have built during the reign of Baybars, who also built the administrative center and large market there.[8]

In December 1271, as Baybars was battling the Mongols in Aleppo, the Crusader forces of King Edward raided Qaqun, but were quickly fought back by the forces of the Mamluk emirs.[17]

At the end of the 13th century, the Via Maris was moved eastward inland to improve the line of defence since Palestine's coastal cities were the first to fall to competing powers seeking to expand their domain. The route followed the coast of the Sinai, passing through Al-Arish, Rafah, Khan Yunis, and Gaza. There, a branch then turned eastward to Jerusalem, onto Hebron while another passed through Beit Hanoun to Ramlah through Daris and continued north to Lydda, through Jaljulia and Tira to the center of Qaqun. From Qaqun, the route branched into two, one leading to Jenin and the other to Wadi Ara. Many of these places were villages that had khans built there in the 14th century.[18] The khan in Qaqun was built on the orders of Mamluk governor Sanjar al-Jawli in 1315, and under Mamluk rule, khans like the one in Qaqun were used by couriers on horseback, forming part of the postal network on the Gaza-Damascus road.[18][19] Al-Qalqasandi (d .1418) mentioned Qaqun as a pleasant, though not particularly prosperous town, with a mosque, a bath, a handsome fort, and wells.[20]

Ottoman eraEdit

During early Ottoman rule in Palestine, the revenues of the village of Qaqun were in 1557 designated for the new waqf of Hasseki Sultan Imaret in Jerusalem, established by Hasseki Hurrem Sultan (Roxelana), the wife of Suleiman the Magnificent.[21] By 1596, Qaqun was the center of the nahiya (subdistrict) of Qaqun under Nablus Sanjak with a population of 19 households and 4 bachelors; an estimated 127 persons; all Muslim. They paid a fixed tax rate of 25% on a number of crops, including wheat and barley, as well as on goats and beehives; a total of 16,590 akçe.[22]

During Napoleon's campaign in 1799, the French forces defeated the Ottoman troops who had been sent to Qaqun to stop their advance towards Acre.[23] Pierre Jacotin named the village Qaqoun on his map from the same campaign.[24]

In the 1830s, the inhabitants of Qanqun participated in the revolt against Egypt, and was thence destroyed by the army of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt during his Syrian campaign (1832–1840).[25] In 1838 it was noted as a village, Kakon, in the western Esh-Sha'rawiyeh administrative region, north of Nablus.[26]

In the late 19th century, Qaqun was described as a large village built around the central tower of the Crusader/Mamluk fort. Its houses, built of stone and mud, were dispersed over the surface of a hill. There was arable land in the surrounding area.[27] Claude R. Conder writes to have seen a Crusader-era tower in Qaqun during his visit there.[13]

British Mandate eraEdit

In the 1922 census of Palestine there were 1,629 villagers, 29 Christian males, and the rest Muslim,[28] decreasing in the 1931 census to a population of 1367 Muslims, in a total of 260 houses.[29]

In the 1945 statistics the population of Qaqun was 1,916, all Muslims,[3] with a total of 41,767 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey.[4] Of this, Arabs used a total of 713 dunums for citrus and bananas, while 34,376 dunums were allocated to cereals; 210 additional dunums were irrigated or used for orchards, of which 80 dunums were planted with olive trees,[30][31] while 137 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[32]

Just prior to the 1948 war, in addition to the mosque and fortress, Qaqun also housed an elementary school for boys and hundreds of homes for its more than 2,000 inhabitants.[33] The village families were made up of the Abu-Hantash, Zidan, al-Shaykh Ghanem, Matrouk, and al-Hafi clans.[33]

1948 WarEdit

Battle of Qaqun
Part of 1948 Arab-Israeli War
War Memorial of Alexandroni Brigade in Qaqun with Bible citation from Zephaniah 3:19
DateJune 4–5, 1948
Result Israeli victory
  IDF (Alexandroni Brigade)   Iraq, Arab irregulars
Commanders and leaders
  Col. Dan Even (Alexandroni Brigade)
  Ben Zion Ziv (33rd Battalion)
Reinforced battalion Iraqi regulars, 200 irregulars[34]
Casualties and losses

Qaqun was the victim of a "hit-and-run" raid carried out by the Irgun Zvai Leumi on 6 March 1948, according to the History of the Haganah. No further details are provided by this source, but the Palestinian newspaper Filastin reported an attack on the morning of 7 March. Quoting a communiqué issued by Palestinian militia forces, the paper said that the large attacking unit failed to penetrate the village, and that it threw a number of grenades which wounded two women.[35]

On 9 May 1948 the Alexandroni Arab affairs experts decided on a meeting in Netanya, in preparation for the declaration of Israeli statehood and the expected pan-Arab invasion, to immediately "expel or subdue" the inhabitants of the Palestinian villages of Kafr Saba, al Tira, Qaqun, Qalansuwa, and Tantura.[36] The final operational order did not say what was to be done with the inhabitants, but repeatedly spoke of "cleaning" or "clearing" the village.[37]

After the establishment of the State of Israel and the outbreak of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, regular Iraqi forces entrenched in the Triangle region threatened to cut Israeli-controlled territory in half by capturing Netanya. An Iraqi attack was repelled on 29 May 1948, when Israeli forces successfully defended the villages Ein Vered, Kfar Yabetz and Geulim. Arab attacks originated in Ras al-Ein, Tira, Qalansawe and Qaqun, and the capture of any of these was deemed likely to bring to an end the Iraqi effort in the Netanya area.[38]

Qaqun was chosen as the target of an Israeli offensive, and on 5 June at 04:00, the 33rd Battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade attacked the village. A frontal assault was conducted on the Iraqi headquarters to the north of the village, after the nearby mill was cleared. The Israel Defense Forces were only able to clear the village during the day, and used reinforcements from the 32nd Battalion at Ein HaHoresh, which flanked the Arab forces from the south. Iraqi counter-attacks from Kalansawe and Tulkarem lasted until nightfall, with both sides bombing each other's positions from the air. Israeli forces were able to hold on to the village and put an end to Iraqi advances on the coastal plain.[38] Alexandroni suffered 16 casualties and by their estimate the entire Iraqi battalion was wiped out. According to the Alexandroni memorial website, the Iraqi defeat in the battle is considered its biggest of the war.[39]

However, according to Benny Morris, the attack was preceded by an artillery barrage that precipitated the evacuation of most of Qaqun's inhabitants to nearby groves.[40] And only a few local militiamen and several dozen Iraqi Army soldiers remained to fight and they were rapidly overwhelmed by the Alexandroni infantry.[41]

Two days later, on 7 June, Joseph Weitz noted Qaqun among the villages which they had to decide as to whether destroy (to prevent the villagers from returning), or renovate and settle with Jews.[42] By December 1948 the IDF General Staff\Operations approved the depopulation of the remaining small border-hugging sites ("khurab") in the Triangle area. It was instructed that "an effort should be made to carry out the eviction [of Arab civilians] without force". But if force proved necessary, the Military Government was authorized to use it. Among the sites evicted was eight in the Qaqun and Gharbiya area.[43]

After 1948Edit

Kibbutz ha-Ma´pil was built on what had traditionally been village land in 1945, 3 km to the northwest. Three settlements were founded on village land in 1949: Gan Yoshiyya, 1 km due south of the village site, Ometz, 1 km north of the site; and ´Olesh, 4 km southwest of the site. Haniel was built on village land in 1950. Yikkon was built in the early 1950s to serve as a transit camp for new Jewish immigrants, and was later made into a regional school. Burgeta, built in 1949, is 5 km to the southwest but is not on village land.[6]

Walid Khalidi described the remaining structures of the village in 1992:

The fortress on top of the hill, a well that belonged to the family of Abu Hantash, and the school building are all that remain of the village. The fortress is surrounded by stone rubble and the remains of houses, and the school building is still used as a school by Israelis. Cactuses and an old mulberry tree grow south of the hill. The surrounding lands are covered by orchards. In addition, cotton, pistachios, and vegetables are grown on the lands. There is an Israeli fodder-processing factory northeast of the village site.[33][6]

The estimated number of Palestinian refugees from Qaqun, as of 1998, was 14,034. This figure includes descendants of the original refugees.[33]

The Nature and Parks Authority and the Hefer Valley Economic Development Corporation recently ordered that the former site of Qaqun, its fortress and other ruins be declared a national park.[44] The plan is to rehabilitate the site and turn it into a "focal point that will draw tourism."[44]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Pringle, 1997, pp. 83-84
  2. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 183
  3. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 21
  4. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 76
  5. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xviii, village #187. Also gives cause of depopulation
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Khalidi, 1992, p. 560
  7. ^ Ahmad Hasan Joudah (1987). Revolt in Palestine in the Eighteenth Century: The Era of Shaykh Zahir Al-'Umar. Kingston Press. p. 69. ISBN 0-940670-11-9.
  8. ^ a b c Benvenisti, 2000, p. 302
  9. ^ Ephraim Stern (May 1975). "Israel at the Close of the Period of the Monarchy: An Archaeological Survey". The Biblical Archaeologist. 38 (2): 26–54. doi:10.2307/3209463. JSTOR 3209463.
  10. ^ Keel etal., 1998, p. 284.
  11. ^ Sartre et al., 2005, pp. 106-107.
  12. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 195
  13. ^ a b Conder, 2002, p. 213.
  14. ^ Röhricht, 1893, RRH, p. 319, No 1210; cited Pringle, 1997, p. 83
  15. ^ a b Bernard Lewis (2001). Islam in History: Ideas, People, and Events in the Middle East. Open Court Publishing. p. 157. ISBN 0-8126-9518-6.
  16. ^ Al-Maqrizi (d.1441), cited in Khalidi, 1992, p. 559
  17. ^ Reuven Amitai-Preiss (1995). Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Īlkhānid War, 1260-1281. Cambridge University Press. p. 99. ISBN 0-521-46226-6.
  18. ^ a b Sharon, 1999, pp. 228, 229.
  19. ^ Atallah 1986: 111-12. Cited in Khalidi, 1992, p.559
  20. ^ Al-Nujum, cited in D3/2:336. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 559
  21. ^ Singer, 2002, p. 50
  22. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 138. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 559
  23. ^ Khalidi, 1992, p. 559
  24. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 170
  25. ^ D 3/2:337-39. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 559
  26. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, 2nd Appendix, p. 129
  27. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 152. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 559
  28. ^ Barron, 1923, Table IX, Sub-district of Tulkarem, p. 27
  29. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 56
  30. ^ Khalidi, 1992, p.559
  31. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 127
  32. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 177
  33. ^ a b c d "Welcome to Qaqun". Palestine Remembered. Retrieved 12 December 2001.
  34. ^ a b "Capture of Qaqun" (in Hebrew). Alexandroni Brigade. Retrieved 13 September 2008.
  35. ^ Filastin 09.03.1948, cited in Khalidi, 1992, p.559
  36. ^ "Summary of the Meeting of the Arab Affairs Advisers in Netanya, 9.5.48", IDFA 6127\49\\109. Cited in Morris, 2004, p. 246
  37. ^ Alexandroni, "Operational order for Operation Kipa", 3 June 1948, IDFA 922\75\\949. Previously, HGS\Operations had ordered Alexandroni "to conquer and destroy" Qaqun (along with al Tira and Qalansuwa) but this had not been carried out (see HGS\Operations to Alexandroni, 12 May 1948, IDFA 922\75\\949). Cited in Morris, 2004, p. 248
  38. ^ a b Wallach, Jeuda; Lorekh, Netanel; Yitzhaki, Aryeh (1978). "Capture of Qaqun". In Evyatar Nur (ed.). Carta's Atlas of Israel (in Hebrew). Volume 2 - The First Years 1948–1961. Jerusalem, Israel: Carta. p. 15.
  39. ^ Conquering Qaqun, in Hebrew
  40. ^ Abd al Rahim ´Abd al Madur, "The Village of Qaqun", p.94-95. Cited in Morris, 2004, p. 248
  41. ^ Unsigned, "The course of Operation Kipa", IDFA 922\75\\949; and "Report on Operation Kipa (from Combat HQ)", undated, IDFA 922\75\\949, Cited in Morris, 2004, p. 248
  42. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 248
  43. ^ Morris, 2004, p. 533
  44. ^ a b "Conservation of the Built Heritage in Israel: Projects - Qaqun (Qaqun Fortress)". Israeli Antiquities Authority. Retrieved 12 December 2007.


External linksEdit