LANDS OF AS-SIRR AFFAIR IN 1914: REFLECTION IN THE CONTEMPORARY PALESTINIAN ARABIC PERIODICAL PRESS
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This article explores the endeavour to purchase a large tract called “the lands of as-Sirr” (Arab. arāḍī as-Sirr) by two prominent Gazans al-Ḥājj Sacīd Effendi ash-Shawwā and Aḥmad cĀrif Effendi al-Ḥusaynī. These lands were located in the recently established sub-district of Beersheba (Arab. Biʼr as-Sabc). The cAzāzima and Tarābīn tribes attempted unsuccessfully to regain the ownership of the lands after these had been previously temporarily seized by the government. Their return to them was conditioned upon reaching an agreement between the tribes on the division of the lands. In the summer of 1914 the sons of the two above-mentioned Gazan notables offered the Bedouins to arrange with the authorities the return of the lands into their possession in exchange for their subsequent sale for a heavily discounted price. It was rumoured at the time that they intended to sell these lands to the Zionists. In the contemporary Palestinian Arabic press (the newspapers Filasṭīn from Jaffa and al-Karmal from Haifa) this matter was extensively discussed and the notables were criticized for their lack of patriotism and for acting as middlemen for the Zionists. Furthermore, the editor-in-chief of Filasṭīn, Yūsuf al-cĪsā, scolded the notables for taking advantage of the vulnerability of the poverty-stricken Bedouins.
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