Kaukab Abu al-Hija
|o ISO 259||Kawka? ?abbu ?el-Hi?a?|
|o Also spelled||Kaokab Abu Al-Hija (official)|
Kawkab Abu al-Heija (unofficial)
|Grid position||173/248 PAL|
|o Type||Local council (from 1984)|
|o Head of Municipality||Zaher Saleh|
|o Total||2,567 dunams (2.567 km2 or 634 acres)|
|o Density||1,400/km2 (3,600/sq mi)|
|Name meaning||Abu al-Hija's Star|
Kaukab Abu al-Hija (Arabic: ? ; Hebrew: ? -'?), often simply Kaukab, (meaning "star" in Arabic), is an Arab Muslim village and local council in the Northern District of Israel, in the Lower Galilee. It is located on Road 784, between Shefa-'Amr and Karmiel, and north of Kafr Manda. Kaukab was historically under the control of the Abu al-Hija family of the Galilee.
It is possible to discern the ruins of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine settlements on Kaukab's location, and it might be the location of the town Kokhva, mentioned in the Talmud, however, many places in the area shared the name, and one cannot know which one was Kokhva.
Kaukab was founded next to a grave attributed to Hussam ad-Din Abu al-Hija, one of Saladin's lieutenants, and is holy to the local Muslims. It is thus named Kaukab Abu al-Hija to differentiate it from several other Arab villages with the same name.
The village was one of the "Al-Hija" villages founded by relatives of Emir Hussam al-Din Abu al-Hija. Abu al-Hija ("the Daring") was an Iraqi Kurd and commander of the Kurdish forces that took part in Sultan Saladin's conquest of the Crusader Kingdom in the 1180s. He was renowned for his bravery, and commanded the garrison of Acre at the time of the Siege of Acre (1189-1192).
Abu al-Hija apparently returned to Iraq, but several members of his family remained in the country under orders from Saladin, and these family members settled on spacious tracts of land that they were granted in the Carmel region, in the Lower, Eastern and Western Galilee, and in the Hebron Highlands. Other al-Hija villages were Hadatha and Sirin in the Lower Galilee, Ruweis in Western Galilee, and Ein Hawd on Mount Carmel. By tradition the residents today still claim to be blood relations of al-Hija.
Emir Hassam returned to Iraq after Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, and he apparently died and was buried there. His relatives who stayed behind in Palestine however, very much aware of his fame, declared Kaukab to be his burial place.
In 1517, the village was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire with the rest of Palestine, and in 1596 it appeared in the Ottoman tax registers under the name of "Kawkab Bani Krad" as being in the nahiya (subdistrict) of Akka, part of Safad Sanjak, with a population of 41 households and 8 bachelors, all Muslim. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat and barley, summer crops, fruit trees, as well as on goats and/or beehives; a total of 1,194 akçe. 1/6 of the revenue went to a Waqf.
In 1875, the French explorer Victor Guérin visited Kaukab, and described it as a small village with about 250 inhabitants, situated on a mountain at an altitude of 425 meters above the sea level. He also noted a waly dedicated to Sheikh Ali. "Wali" is the term used by 19th-century scholars for a maqam, a Muslim shrine or mausoleum dedicated to a holy man
A population list from about 1887 showed that Kaukab had about 110 Muslim inhabitants.
In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Kaukab had a total population of 222, all Muslim, which had increased in the 1931 census to 285, still all Muslim, in a total of 57 houses.
In the 1945 statistics, the population was 490, all Muslims, with 18,674 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, 332 dunams were for plantations and irrigable land, 1,657 for cereals, while 10 dunams were built-up land.
During Operation Hiram (29-31 October 1948) the village surrendered to the advancing Israeli army. Many of the villagers fled north but some stayed and were not expelled by the Israeli soldiers. The village remained under Martial Law until 1966.
In 1973, the population had grown to 1,340. Kaukab was declared a local council in 1984.
In 2020, a tender was offered by the Ministry of Tourism and Israel Land Administration for the construction of a hotel and tourist resort in the village. The compound includes a plan for 120 accommodation units and space for shops, pools, parks, sports fields and more. The decision was made in light of a rise in pilgrim tourism to Israel which creates new opportunities for the Galilee thanks to its religious, archeological and natural sites. Kaukab joins Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam, where a tender for hotel construction in a Bedouin village was offered for the first time in history.
To the north of the village is the traditional maqam (shrine) and tomb of Hassam Abu al-Hija (also spelled Abu al-Hayja), a two-domed structure with a courtyard to the north. In the rectangular courtyard, there are two cenotaphs, one on each side of the door entering the shine. The cenotaph to the west of the door belongs to Ali Badawi Abu al-Hija, who died in 1183 H (1769 CE), the one east of the door carries an inscription dated to 1181 H (1767-1768 CE). Entering the shrine is done into the eastern domed chamber. This is a prayer chamber, and has a mihrab (prayer niche) set into the south wall. The next chamber has two cenotaphs, one which belong to the founder of the al-Hija villages of the Galillee.
After the signing of the Oslo agreements in 1993, the idea of establishing a sculpture garden in Kaukab was initiated by Kaukab local council together with Beit Hagefen, the Arab-Jewish Centre in Haifa. The garden was dedicated to the concept of peace and coexistence. The sculpture garden extends over two hill tops with other pieces scattered around the village and its entrance. The sculptures were donated by Israeli Arab and Jewish artists, and Palestinian artists.