Umm al-Zinat
District: Haifa
Population 1948: 1710
Occupation date: 15/05/1948
Military operation: Bi'ur Hametz
Occupying unit: Golani 4th battalion
Jewish settlements on village\town land before 1948: None
Jewish settlements on the built-up area of the village\town after 1948: Elyakim
Jewish settlements on village\town land after 1948: None

Umm Al Zinat in Arabic means the mother of beauty; the village was called Umm Al Zinat because it was famous for its beautiful women!

Umma Al Zinat is believed to have been a Druze village whose people have abandoned for unknown reasons, villagers from all over came to live in it and start a new life. Most of the people who lived in Umm Al Zinat are believed to have been originally from Umm Al Fahem which is today’s second biggest Arab city in Israel. 

People chose to live in this specific area due to its location on the hill, the fact that it had a road which connected it to all the surrounding villages and made trades easier, and its famous olive trees.

The houses were built of the remainders of older buildings, people used the same stones and bricks, and therefore it is hard to specify which stone belonged to which era thus how old the village really is. 

The village was famous for its trees; olives, grapes, cactus and pomegranate. It had four grapes’ mills and many olives’. People lived out of farming, trading and selling. To keep the village safe from intruders and unwanted animals, farmers surrounded it with cactus trees which can still be seen even today.

Both men and women worked in the village, the girls helped while the boys went to school. While girls weren’t allowed to go to school at the time, Umm Al Zinat had one elementary school for boys. They learned both English and Turkish.

Umm Al Zinat was occupied in May 15th 1948, people were kicked out and the village was destroyed the next day. People tried to stay close to their homes at first and return at night to get their belongings, but they were not allowed in and were eventually kicked out for good. The village was completely destroyed in an attempt to wipe it off of the map and erase its history. The only thing that is left of the village are the rubbles of the houses, two wells which served as the main source of the drinking water and the trees which have defied time and are still hanging in and carrying the dream of return for its people. 

People who used to live in Umm Al- Zinat are now living in different places in Palestine, one very well known family is living in Daliat El Carmel, the family of Al Fahmawy, others are living in Haifa, Umm Al Fahem and some can even be found today living in Jordan. 

The people of Umm Al Zinat have no documentations that could prove their ownership of the land and therefore they cannot go back to their village. Also, the village has no grave yard, and the dead were buried in Daliat El Carmel. Back in the day, the “chief” of the village, which is called “Al-Mukhtar”-the chosen one in Arabic, used to decide how the land should be divided between the families and so to the people, his words were the law. The Jews tried to buy pieces of the land before 1948, and those who did made the villagers sign a document of ownership to make them official owners of the land in the eyes of the law.

Today most of the land is owned by the government and its original owners have no right to return to it..

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 by: Amani Rohana

Zochrot online