Arab Immigration into the Coastal Plains of Israel (the Sharon) During the British Mandate

Dr. Rivka Shpak Lissak

According to the Arabic- Palestinian propaganda, the Palestinians are the indigenous people of the country called Judea in the past, then Palestina under the British Mandte.

This article and others in the future will prove this propaganda is an attempt to rewrite history in order to eliminate the Jewish state.

Ma’ayan Hess-Ashkenazi researched the Arabic immigration to the Sharon, and this is what he found:

The Sharon area lies between the Tanninim Creek in the north and the Yarkon stream in the south, and between the foot of the mountains of Samaria in the east and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. According to data published by the Mandate Government, the Arabic population in the Sharon increased more than three-fold during its time. At the beginning of the Mandate period there were about 10,000 Arabs (mostly Muslim) in the Sharon, and in 1944 there were more than 30,000. By the time the Mandate was ended, in 1947, more Arabs had moved to the Sharon.

Demographic sources for the British Mandate period in Israel include the 1922 and 1931 censuses and data on the rural population from 1945. In addition to the British sources researchers can access sources of the Jewish settlement during the Mandate period, including the Haganah archive, the Jewish press, and studies conducted during the period, as well as personal interviews with people from that era.

The total data published by the Mandate government show that the number of Arabs grew from 752,048 in 1914 to 1,294,000 in 1944. The Arabic population nearly doubled in 30 years.

Data on natural increase published by the Mandate government show a significant natural increase in the Arabic population. Among the Muslims, the natural increase rose from 10 children per 1000 population to 29.1 children per 1000 population. Among the Christians, the natural increase reached 30.1 children per 1000 population by the end of the British Mandate. The main reason for this increase was the decrease in mortality rate from 25-30 per 1000 to 20 per 1000.

Scholars are divided over the contribution of Arabic immigration into Israel to the increase in population during the Mandate period. According to data published by the Mandate government, the natural increase in Muslim population contributed 88% of the total increase, whereas immigration contributed 12%; and among the Christians, natural increase contributed 72% of the total population increase, whereas immigration contributed 28%.

An investigation of the statistical data of the Mandate government shows differences in the rates of increase of Arabic population between areas that enjoyed economic and demographic development, such as the Coastal Plains and the Sharon, and areas that did not enjoy such development, such as the district of Jennin. In Jennin, the average natural increase stood at 70%, while in the Coastal area and the Sharon it was several hundreds of percent.

The Mandate government data show that at the beginning of the period, there were about 10,000 Arabs living in the Sharon area, some nomads or semi-nomads, and most in permanent settlements. At the end of the Mandate period there were about 30,000 Arabs in the Sharon area, with some 20,000 living in permanent settlements and about 10,000 nomads.

A careful examination of the population growth in the Sharon concludes that there was a difference between the Mandate government’s rates of population increases for the whole country and those for the Sharon area. In the Sharon, immigration contributed significantly to the population increase. This study examined 35 Arabic villages and suburbs in cities of mixed population. In 1922, 9,892 Arabs were living in the villages and the suburbs, in 1931 their number grew to 14,261, and in 1944 to 25,930. Further growth between 1945 and 1948 must be added. According to these data, the population increase in these villages and suburbs between 1922 and 1931 ranged from 37% to 510%, while from 1931 to 1944, the population increase in these villages and suburbs ranged from 28% to 138%. It should be noted that there were more settlements where the population increased by 100% or more than by a lower percentage.

For example, in Abou Kashakh the population numbered 200 in 1922, and 1,007 in 1931, an increase by 400% .In 1931 it numbered 1,007 and in 1944 it was 2,400, an increase of 138%.. In the Faliq area, on the other hand, there were no Arabs until 1944, when 1,030 of them settled in the place. In Sheikh Mounis there were 664 residents in 1922, growing to 1,154 in 1931 and 1,930 in 1944, an increase of 67% in 13 years and 190% in 22 years.

The Causes for Immigration

Draining of the Sharon Swamps

The Jewish National Fund, together with the Mandate Health Department, began draining the Sharon swamps in the early 1920’s. The drainage checked the spread of malaria and decreased the mortality rate among the Arabs in the area. The drainage project required hundreds of workers, and Arabs work immigrants from the Arabic world who were employed in the works subsequently settled in the area.

The Development of the Citrus Industry

Planting and tending the orchards and the fruit created employment and attracted Arabs from the Arabic world to the area. The planted areas grew from 70,000 dounams (17,500 acres) in 1931 to 128,000 dounams (32,000 acres) in 1946.

Construction Works

The establishment of the Jewish towns of Binyamina, Kfar Sabba, Ra’anana, Herzeliya, Ramat Hasharon, Giv’at Shaul, and others, brought about a construction boom which created employment for hundreds of workers, attracting workers from the Arabic world. Coarse sand was one of the materials used in construction, attracting camel owning Bedouins to work in its transportation.

New Water Sources

The fourth factor which encouraged Arab immigration into the Sharon was the water drilling projects which improved the water supply and increased the area’s agricultural output and its population sustainment and absorption rate.

The Composition of the Arabic Workforce in the Sharon


The workforce in the Sharon was comprised of Arabic farmers whose economic situation in the years 1926 – 1932 suffered from cattle diseases, low rainfall, low prices for agricultural produce, and locust attacks. The work places created by the Jewish National Fund, the Mandate government, the Citrus industry, and the construction boom saved them from certain hunger.


Documents of the Hagana Organisation indicate that members of Bedouin tribes from the Negev, the Sinai, and Trans-Jordan were employed in these works and ended up settling in the Sharon.


Towards the end of the 1920’s, Arab workers from the Horan region in the south of Syria began arriving in the country, including the Sharon. According to the Syrian Governor they numbered between 30,000 and 35,000. The Hebrew newspaper “Davar” reported on 2 July 1934 that 25,000 Horanni’s “made Aliya [immigrated] into the country”.

Ten years after the Mandate was established, the Arabic population in the Sharon had grown by 50%. It is impossible to reasonably explain such increase by natural causes alone. The huge increase in Arabic population was even more remarkable in villages close to Jewish settlements, whose number grew from 25 to 77 during the Mandate period. In Bir Addas, for example, which is situated close to the Jewish town of Magdi-el, the population increased by 216%, with 40% of the village’s men working in neighbouring settlements.

In contrast, Bedouins and Arabic farmers from the mountainous region, which was hit by natural disasters, preferred to move to cities such as Jaffa and Haifa, where the living standards were higher.

During the Arabic Revolt, in 1936—1939, Arabic fighters from neighbouring Arabic countries arrived in Samaria, where they ended up settling following the suppression of the revolt by the Mandate government.

World War II hit the citrus industry hard when it brought an end to the exporting of citrus to Europe, but the British Army provided employment to the Arabs in the construction and maintenance of the bases it established in the Sharon. The British Army required food, and its demand for agricultural produce rescued the Arabic agriculture in the Sharon. The need for manpower in the British bases and camps attracted more Arab workers from the Arabic countries. The British brought with them in the 1940’s Arabic workers from Egypt who settled near Kfar Tzur south of Netanya, establishing a settlement that numbered hundreds of inhabitants. Bedouins, Egyptians, and Horanni’s, who worked in the British camps and in the industries that were established in Netanya after the war, settled in Um Haled near Netanya. In addition, during the war, villagers moved from the mountains and established settlements in the Sharon. Some were descended from Egyptians who were settled in the country by Mouhammad ‘Ali during his rule of the area (1832—1840). Data on the rural regions published by the Mandate Government in 1944/5 listed Bedouin tribes that settled in the Sharon, such as ‘Arab-a-nussirat, ‘Arab-al-marmara, and more.

The spread of Tel Aviv in the direction of Sheikh Mounis during the 1930’s and 1940’s, increased Arabic immigration to the village. Its population grew from 664 in 1922 to 1,930 in 1944. Many of these new residents were Bedouins who arrived from neighbouring countries and found employment in construction, sand transportation, and industry. Many of the village residents supplied agricultural produce to the markets in Tel Aviv.


Jewish settlement in the Sharon during the British Mandate period and development works by the government brought about the elimination of malaria and the provision of medical services which improved the health conditions in the Arabic villages, reduced the infant and adult mortality rates, and increased the longevity rate. New and varied industries created an abundance of work places, attracting Arabs and Bedouins to the Sharon, many of them from Egypt. During World War II, the British Army further created employment and increased demand for agricultural produce. The increase in sources for livelihood brought about an increase in the Arabic population in the Sharon, from 10,000 to 30,000 in less than 30 years.

Destruction of the coastal cities

Palestine, chapter on the Mamluks
History of Southern Levant, chapter on the Mamlukes

Do you read hebrew?

Let me know if you read hebrew.If you don't - I"ll gove you information in english.

coastal plain

need more information on coastal plain at google

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