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About Yazour

 

 

About Yazour

The town of Yazour is located about 3 miles to the west of Jaffa along the international road leading to Jerusalem; and about 4 miles from Tel Aviv. To the North of Yazour lies the railway road that separates Yazour from the village of Salameh and links Jaffa to Jerusalem via Lydda. Yazour's population reached 4030 in 1945; 20 Christians and 4010 Moslems. The land area of Yazour was about 12 million square meters, of which 9.74 million were owned by Arabs, 1.4 million by Jews, and about 6.4 million meters were public land.

History

 Yazour is a very old town; it was mentioned in the annals of the Assyrian King Sinhreeb who ruled about 800 BC. Two tombs discovered recently from the fourth millennium BC seem to indicate that Yazour was established in the Stone Age. The village has few other historic places that go back to the European Middle Ages; it contains the remains of a fort called The Casal des Plaines, built in 1191 for Richard the Lionheart. The village mosque is a multi-domed seventeenth-century building built on the foundation of a Crusaders church. After Yazour was occupied and ethnically cleansed in 1948, the mosque was transformed into a Jewish shrine. Two Islamic shrines still stand; Sayyiduna Haydara, and another shrine for an unknown individual. Few other structures and old houses are still used by Jewish settlers. Whenever Yazour's history is mentioned, it would not be complete without saying few words about Abu Alhasan bin Ali Abu Mohamed Alyazouri, a famous judge who assumed judicial duties in the cities of Ramleh and Jerusalem. In 1040 Alyazouri left for Egypt where he moved from one important position to another, becoming in 1050 state minister and the most powerful man in the land. However, the powers that enabled him to restore order and revive state economy, caused few strong men to feel jealous and convince the Fatimid Caliph Almustansir that his minister was betraying him and conspiring with his enemies in Baghdad. The Caliph ordered Alyazouri's arrest, then his beheading in 1958.

Economy

Yazour was famous for its orange groves, providing, with a few other neighboring villages, the famous “Jaffa Oranges” to European markets. In addition to oranges, Yazour farmers produced lemons, grapefruits as well as vegetables and cereals. The village had by 1945 about 140 artesian water wells, using mechanical pumps. People used water to drink and irrigate land; some families built large pools to store water and use it as swimming pools as well. Starting in the 1930s, people began to import cows from Holland and use their milk for drinking and making cheese and butter. Money earned by exporting oranges and raising cows was estimated in 1945 to have reached 140,000 and 25,000 British Pounds, respectively. Since all of Yazour's inhabitants were land owners, there are no records that suggest that the village knew poverty or need in its long history. After expanding the plantation of oranges, many families began to move out of the center of the town and build new, modern homes near their groves and water wells, causing living standards and conditions to improve substantially; the old town, nonetheless, continued to serve the villagers as a commercial center and a place for warship and entertainment.

Education

Yazour had two schools; one for boys, the other for girls. The first was established in 1920 and had 430 boys in 1947; the other was established in 1933 and had 160 girls. The boys school was built on a 20,000 square meters; a relatively large piece of land to provide space for a playground, a honeybee farm, and a farm to train students how to use modern farming and irrigation systems. The school had a library of 583 books. Literacy rates in the village were estimated in 1945 to have reached 50% among men and 5% among women.

The Occupation of Yazour

Following the UN Partition Plan of 1947, Jewish underground terrorist organizations began to attack Yazour, terrorize its inhabitants and provoke them to abandon their homes in the suburbs and move to safer places in and outside the village. In December of the same year, Jewish terrorists attacked a cafe in Yazour killing seven men. Few days later, Yazour took revenge by attacking a military jeep killing seven guards who had for weeks terrorized Yazouris by going through the village often, shooting in all directions. With the help of a German expert, few young Yazouris prepared an explosive device, placed it near the road, and as the car carrying the guards passed by, they exploded the device. Some guards were killed; others were wounded; but when the wounded tried to flee into the neighboring orange groves, the Yazouris followed them and killed them. In the wake of that incident, Yigal Yadin, commander of the Haganah forces ordered Yigal Alon, one of his officers, to "launch immediately, and without further notice, a military operation against Yazour to disturb life in the village, and burn and destroy a number of houses". Following the orders, Alon and his terrorist gangs began attacking buses going through the village, causing the wounding of many men, women and children, and carrying nightly raids destroying each time two or three houses. On the 22nd of January 1948, the Haganah leadership decided to launch a large scale attack on Yazour, destroy its ice factory and burn a number of houses. Yitzhak Rabin, the officer in charge of military planning, was asked to plan the attack and supervise its execution. Before dawn on that black day, Jewish forces attacked the factory and nearby houses and destroyed them, causing a powerful explosion that could be heard and seen for miles away. The operation, considered a massacre by Israeli historians, caused the killing of 15 people and the wounding of many more. On the first day of May 1948, Yazour was occupied and ethnically cleansed, along with several other towns and villages. The owners of the land and makers of its history for countless generations had become a part of a new sad history. Some Yazouris fled by see to Gaza; others fled to the cities of Lydda and Ramleh which fell in the hands of Israelis during the second week of July. The overwhelming majority of the Yazouris ended in squalid refuge camps in Nablus, Jericho and the Gaza Strip; and from there they moved to all corners of the globe seeking education, work and freedom, never to forget their homeland or beloved village. After the signing of the Oslo agreement with the PLO in 1993, Israelis realized that the Palestinian land they occupied in 1948-49 was no longer subject to negotiations; and therefore, they began to destroy old buildings and houses and build new ones in their place. The new part of Yazour lost its orange groves, trees and birds and was annexed to Holon, the largest industrial complex in Israel. And the old Yazour was rehabilitated and transformed into a modern town they call "Azure". Pictures are for the British army entering Yazour in 1919; the colored one is for the remains of the Crusader castle Casal des Plaines; and the rest show village ruins left by Jewish gangs.
*Yazour is the village where I was born and lived for few years before its occupation in 1948.