PLace

Lubya

Place
Lubya — لُوبْيا
District
Galilee
Subdistrict
Tiberias
Average Elevation
300 m
Distance from Tiberias
10.5 km
Population
Year Arab Total
1931 1850
1944/45 2350
Land Ownership (1944/45) in dunums
Year Arab Jewish Public Total
1944/45 32895 1051 5683 39629
Land Use (1944/45) in dunums
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Non-Cultivable & Built-up (Total)
Use Arab Public Total
Non-Cultivable 6 5448 5454
Built-up 208 2 210
214 5450 5664 (14%)
Cultivable (Total)
Use Arab Jewish Public Total
Cereal 31026 1051 233 32310
Plantation and Irrigable 1655 1655
32681 1051 233 33965 (86%)
Number of Houses (1931)
405

The village was located on the summit of a rectangular, rocky hill that extended in an east-west direction and overlooked the plain of Tar'an to the south. It was divided into eastern and western parts by a secondary road that linked it to the Tiberias-Nazareth highway. The Crusaders knew the village as Lubia. Lubya was said to be the hometown of Abu Bakr al-Lubyani, a prominent Muslim scholar of the fifteenth century who taught Islamic religious sciences in Damascus. In 1596, Lubya was a village in the nahiya of Tiberias (liwa' of Safad) with a population of 1,177. It paid taxes on goats, beehives, and on a press that was used for processing either olives or grapes. The governor of Damascus, Sulayman Pasha, died in Lubya in 1743 on his way to confront Zahir al-'Umar, who became the de facto ruler of northern Palestine for a short period in the second half of the eighteenth century. In the early nineteenth century the British traveler Buckingham described it as a very large village on top of a high hill. The Swiss traveler Burckhardt (writing in 1822) noted the wild artichokes that covered the plain where the village was located.

Later in the nineteenth century, Lubya was described as a stone village, on top of a limestone ridge. The residents of the village, estimated variously at 400 to 700, cultivated olive and fig trees. The older houses were clustered on the eastern side of the site (as were the newer buildings constructed during the British Mandate), possibly because the eastern side of the hill overlooked the cultivated lands of the village. The villagers were predominantly Muslim. An elementary school was established in the village during the Ottoman period, in 1895, and remained in use during the British Mandate. During the Mandate period, Lubya was the second largest village in Tiberias sub-disctrict in terms of area.

The village economy was based on agriculture; its lands were fertile, and it was known in the region for its quality wheat. Wheat was planted in the fields of the Tar'an depression, while olive trees were grown on the mountainous slopes north of the village. In 1944/45 a total of 31,026 dunums was allotted to cereals; 1,655 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.

The village was built on the remains of previous settlements and thus was an archaeological site. Two km to the east of the village were the ruins of a structure known as Khan Lubya (192242) that contained the remains of a pool, cisterns, and large building stones. This site was probably a caravansary during the Ottoman period.

The Palestinian press reported an attack by Zionist forces on Lubya during the night of 20 January 1948, which left one villager dead. That early raid was coordinated with another on the nearby village of Tur'an, according to an account in the newspaper Filastin. Another clash occurred on the outskirts of Lubya on the morning of 24 February. A skirmish with a Jewish convoy lasted four hours and left one Arab killed and two wounded, as well as many casualties in the convoy, according to the account in Filastin. A third attack took place during the first week of March 1948. Palestinian historian 'Arif al-'Arif states that Haganah soldiers attempted to force their way through the road between Tiberias and al-Shajara, attacking Lubya at dawn. They reached the western edge of the village but were repulsed by the villagers themselves, who lost six men while killing seven of the attackers. Filastin reported another infiltration attempt on 11 March that was preceded by mortar shelling.

With the occupation of Tiberias in mid-April 1948, the people of Lubya were isolated and turned to Nazareth for help and guidance, according to the recollections of the villagers themselves. They told Palestinian historian Nafez Nazzal that there was another attack on Lubya on 10-11 June, as the first truce of the war was about to go into effect. At the same time, the Arab Liberation Army (ALA) attacked the Jewish settlement of Sejera, to the southwest. Villagers recalled that an Israeli infantry unit took up positions at the southern end of the village, but withdrew by nightfall on 11 June. The village militia participated briefly in the fighting at Sejera with the ALA, but returned to protect the village during the truce.

After the truce ended, Israeli forces launched Operation Dekel (see 'Amqa, Acre sub-disctrict). On 16 July, some villagers brought the news of the fall of Nazareth. The people of Lubya were 'terrified,' in the words of villagers interviewed some twenty-five years later, and they asked the nearby ALA contingent for military aid, but the request was turned down. During the night of 16 July, most of them left for Nimrin, 'Aylabun, and on to Lebanon, leaving behind the village militia and some elderly people. When an Israeli armored unit approached the following day, the poorly-armed militia decided to retreat. Eyewitnesses said that the occupying force shelled the village before entering it and then destroyed some of the houses and commandeered some of the others. Some elderly people took refuge in a nearby cave and a few later escaped; the fate of the rest is unknown. 'Lubiya fell without fighting,' the History of the War of Independence states, 'and the road to Tiberias was open to us.'

The settlement of Lavi (191243) was established on village lands (to the northeast) in 1949.

The Lavi pine forest has been planted by the Jewish National Fund, the body of the World Zionist Organization in charge of land acquisition and development, on the western side of the site, and another forest has been planted nearby in the name of the Republic of South Africa. The debris of houses is buried under these forests. Scattered wells (which formerly were used by the villagers for collecting rainwater) further mark the site. Pomegranate and fig trees as well as cactuses grow there. The lands around the site are cultivated by the nearby settlement. A forest and a military museum have been established near the site in honor of the Golani Brigade of the Israeli army. The secondary road that once led from the village to the Tiberias-Nazareth highway is still recognizable.