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Voices

Truth about the village of Lubya and the forest planted there

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AMBER CUMMINS

The anti-Israel campaign being run by SAJRP in the media is premised on a variety of simplistic falsehoods. In a full history of the area (in question, the deserted Palestinian village of Lubya) written up by researcher/historian Brian Shapiro, a full objective overview of the area is given. 

Lubya a Jewish settlement goes back 2 000 years to Talmudic times when it was called Luvya (the hard B took over from the soft V). Many Mikvaot exist in the area dating the period accurately.

In the modern period of Jewish return, in 1913, two Arab residents from Lubya killed a Jewish watchman from the new agricultural area of Sejera. In September 1936, the British arrested some 26 men from the village as being active members in the Arab revolt and engaged in terrorist activities.

In the years leading up to the establishment of Israel there were other instances of attacks and counter-attacks between the villagers and Jewish inhabitants of the area.

With the outbreak of the War of Independence, the villagers attacked Jewish traffic on the main road leading to and from the town of Tiberias. In fact, Jewish civilians could only travel in armed convoys.

On February 24, 1948, the road was totally blocked by the Arabs in an attempt to starve the town of Tiberias into submission. A large Jewish convoy tried to breach the blockade but failed and the battle turned into a frantic attempt to save the vehicles and passengers.

The road remained blocked till July of that year and a very long alternative route via Yavniel was used to maintain contact with the town.

Even after the proclamation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, this road remained blocked to Jewish traffic by the militant residents of the village of Lubya. On July 9, an attempt was made to capture the village but after a 24-hour battle, the Israeli forces withdrew with some 21 soldiers dead.

However, on July 19, after a failed attack by the Arab forces on the nearby Jewish settlement of Sejera, the Arab front began to collapse and the villagers began fleeing (much in fear of possible punishment for atrocities they had committed).

Jewish forces entered and captured the village on July 19, some two and a half months after the establishment of Israel. It was only then that the siege was lifted and the main road from Haifa to Tiberias was finally opened.

The village remains abandoned till today. In 1964 general forestry efforts were undertaken in the area of the village by the Jewish National Fund, including the creation of the Lavi Forest. This is after the land lay fallow for approximately 15 years since the time of the war.

Today the forest includes a trail where the village can still be seen, a monument to South Africans who died defending Israel and a trail that shows the sites of Christian importance in the area. 

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