'Atlit - March of Return


District: Haifa

Population 1948: 170

Occupation date: 15/05/1948

Jewish settlements on village/town land before 1948: Atlit, Neve Yam

Jewish settlements on village/town land after 1948: Atlit and Neve Yam expansion


'Atlit Before 1948
The village was situated at a distance of 12.5 km from Haifa, on a sandstone hill that overlooked the Mediterranean. Evidence of early human habitation was discovered three km southeast of the village in the caves of al-Wad, al-Tabun, and al-Sukhul. About 3 km northeast, evidence of a human presence during the Neolithic period was also unearthed in a cave. Additionally, excavations close to the east revealed a site that has been occupied from the second millennium B.C. to the seventh century A.D. With a long rich history, the village of 'Atil has been referred to by several travelers in the area such as Yaqut al-Hamawi, Thomson and Buckingham. In 1596, 'Atlit had a farm that paid taxes to the Ottoman government.

In 1903, Jewish settlers established a settlement near 'Atlit and gave it the same name. Further on, during World War I the Jewish settlement became a centre for Nili (Netzach Yisra'el Lo Yeshaqqer, 'the strength of Israel will not lie') - a pro-British, Zionist intelligence organization. During the 1920s, the Palestinian village of 'Atlit  was a member of regional cooperative association dedicated to improve the peasant life. It included some 25 villages in Haifa District. Although by 1938 the population in both the village and the settlement of 'Atlit had grown to 738 - 508 Arabs and 224 Jews, by 1944/45, however, the number of Arab inhabitants had fallen to 150 - 90 Muslims and 60 Christians. Only 15 dunums of the land remained in Arab hands.

Recent exploration has shown that the north harbor of the town might have been of Hellenistic origin. An Arabic inscription dating to 1800 could be found in the Muslim cemetery east of a Crusader castle built in 1218 on the site of Adarus.

Occupation, Depopulation, and Israeli Settlements
In the History of the Haganah, 'Atlit is referred to as a base for Haganah activity and a source for recruits from the Jewish settlement there. Not much information can be found on when and how the Arab village of 'Atlit fell into Zionist hands.

The Zionists established the settlement of 'Atlit in 1903 and Newe Yam in 1939, both on village lands.

The Village Today
There are no traces of Arab houses left, only the railroad station that previously served the village is still in use. A prison in the vicinity was used by Israel in 1989 for holding Lebanese and Palestinian detainees.


Source: al-Khalidi, Walid (ed.). All that remains: the Palestinian villages occupied and depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington DC: 1992.