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Az-Zeeb or al-Zib ( ) was a Palestinian Arab village located north of Acremarker on the coast of the Mediterranean Seamarker. Mentioned in the Bible by its ancient name Achzibmarker, evidence of human settlement at the site dates back to the 18th century BCE. By the 10th century BCE, it was a propersous and fortified Phoenicianmarker town. Conquered by the Assyrian empire in the 8th century BCE, it was subsequently ruled by the Persian empire. During the rule of the Roman empire in Palestine, it was known as Ecdippa. Arab geographers were referring to it as az-Zeeb by the early Middle Ages.

The Crusaders established a fortress named Casal Imbertia there in 1099 and there are descriptions of it and the village of az-Zeeb by Arab chroniclers in the 12th and 13th centuries, just prior to and during the rule of the Mamluks in the region. Incorporated into the Ottoman empire in the early 16th century, by its end it formed part of the subdistrict of Akka. Its inhabitants cultivated various crops and raised livestock for which they paid taxes to the Ottoman authorities.

At the time of the British Mandate in Palestine, most the families in az-Zeeb made their living from fishing and agriculture, particularly fruit cultivation. Just before the official end to Mandate rule on May 14, 1948, az-Zeeb was attacked by captured by the Haganah's Carmeli Brigade. The town was depopulated and razed to the ground. The Israelimarker localities of Sa'armarker and Gesher HaZivmarker were established on the village lands in 1948 and 1949. A domed mosque from the village has since been restored and serves as a tourist site, and the house of the last mukhtar is now a museum.

History

The Arabic name of the village, Az-Zeeb is a shortened form of the site's original ancient Canaanite/Phoenicianmarker name, Achzibmarker. Achzib is mentioned in the Book of Joshua (19:29) and Book of Judges (1:31) as a town that became of the Asher tribe, though archaeological evidence indicates that it was Phoenician.

Human settlement at the site dates to as early as the 18th century BCE, and by the 10th century BCE it was a walled town. A tel in Az-Zeeb excavated between 1941-44 and 1959-1964 found evidence of settlement from the Middle Bronze Age II, through the Roman period and the Early Middle Ages.

Positioned on a passage between the plain of Akkomarker and the city of Tyremarker, Achzib was an important road station. Between the 10th and 6th centuries BCE, it was a properous town, with public buildings and tombs with Phoenician inscriptions, attesting to the identity of its inhabitants at the time. Conquered by the Assyrians in 701 BCE and listed in Sennacherib's annals as Ak-zi-bi, the continuation of Phoenician settlement through this period and during the decline endured during the Persian period, is evidenced in 5th and 4th century BCE Phoenician inscriptions that were found at the site. Also mentioned in the writings of Pseudo-Scylax, the site likely regained some importance in Hellenistic times. During the Roman period, the imperial authorities called it Ecdippa. By the Early Middle Ages, Arab geographers were referring to the area as Az-Zeeb.

Built remains of az-Zeeb
With the arrival of the Crusader in 1099, the village was reestablished as "Casal Imbertia" or "Lambertie". Arab geographer Ibn Jubayr toured Palestine in 1182 and mentioned az-Zeeb as a large fortress with a village and adjoining lands between Acre and Tyre." Under Mamluk rule, in 1226, Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi describes az-Zeeb as a large village on the coast whose name was also pronounced "az-Zaib".

In the early 16th century, az-Zeeb was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire, and by 1596, it was a village in the nahiya ("subdistrict") of Akka, part of Sanjak Safadmarker. It paid taxes on several agricultural items including, wheat, barley, "summer crops", fruits, cotton, beehives, goats, and water buffalo. The 18th century Islamic judge and scholar Abu al-Ali az-Zibi was born in the village. British traveler James Silk Buckingham describes az-Zeeb in the early 19th century as a small town built on a hill near the sea with few palm trees rising above its houses. By the late 19th century, most of the village houses were built of stone, a mosque and a clinic had been established, and the residents cultivated olives, figs, mulberries, and pomegranates. In 1882, the Ottomans established an elementary school in az-Zeeb.
az-Zeeb and its beach, 1928
Az-Zeeb became a part of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922. During the period of British rule, the main economic sectors in the village were fishing and agriculture, particularly fruit cultivation, including bananas, citrus, olives, and figs. There were four olive presses: two mechanized and two animal-drawn. Between 1927 and 1945, the village's annual fish catch was 16 metric tons.

1948 War

Just prior to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, on May 14, 1948, az-Zeeb was captured by the Haganah's Carmeli Brigade, being one of the main places targeted in Operation Ben-Ami. According to Haganah accounts, the residents immediately "fled upon the appearance of Jewish forces, and the Haganah command decided to hold onto [it]." However, Israelimarker historian Benny Morris states that the Haganah had a "long account" with az-Zeeb because it was a center of Arab resistance and that most of the inhabitants fled after the village was hit with a mortar barrage by the Haganah. Morris also writes that two IDF companies reported in mid-May 1948 that they were "attacking al Zib with the aim of blowing up the village".

Eyewitness accounts from among the villagers indicate that they mistook the incoming Israeli forces for Arab reinforcements because they had donned red and white keffiyehs, and that these forces quickly overwhelmed the local militia of 35-40 men. Many of the inhabitants fled to Lebanonmarker or nearby villages, but many also remained in az-Zeeb until they were relocated by the Israeli authorities to the Arab coastal town of Mazra'amarker. Carmeli Brigade Commander Moshe Carmel ordered az-Zeeb to be razed to the ground to "punish" the villagers and ensure they could not return. Villagers later complained that the Haganah had (as in Sumeiriyamarker and al-Bassamarker) "molested or violated" a number of women.
The beach in al-Zeeb in modern times
According to Walid Khalidi, All that remains of the village is the mosque, which has been restored for tourism, and the house of the mukhtar (the village head) Husayn Ataya, which is now a museum. The house is relatively large and made of masonry. The stone mosque has a dome and a large decorative arch on the front facade.

Demographics

According to Ottoman imperial records, az-Zeeb had a population of 875 in 1596, decreasing to about 400 in the late 19th century. In the British Mandate census in 1931, there were 1,059 people living in the town, nearly doubling by the 1945 population survey by Sami Hadawi to 1,910 inhabitants. In 1931, there were 251 houses in az-Zeeb. The projected population in 1948 was 2,216, and Palestinian refugees of az-Zeeb and their descendants were estimated to number 13,606 in 1998.

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