The only Jewish village in Jordan

In the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, Jews were expelled from East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion in the West Bank. Not well known is that a few Jews were also expelled from the east bank of the Jordan. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Tel Or was the only Jewish village, built to house the employees of a power station.

The village of Tel Or, overrun in the 1948 War of Independence

During the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, Tel Or was the only Jewish village in Transjordan at the time. Tel Or was designated for residence of the permanent employees of the power plant and their families, aiming to create an agricultural village at the Eastern border of the Land of Israel. Employees of the power station also farmed thousands of dunams of land and sold some of the produce at a company workers’ supermarket in Haifa. Due to its relative isolation and despite the limited number of resident families, the village included a clinic, a kindergarten and even a school, established by Yosef Hanani for the children of employees.

An Iraqi brigade invaded at Naharayim area on May 15, 1948, in an unsuccessful attempt to take the Gesher kibbutz and fort. The power plant was occupied and looted by the Iraqi forces. After the Tel Or village and the power plant were overran by the Arab forces they were destroyed. To prevent Iraqi tanks from attacking Jewish villages in the Jordan Valley, the sluice gates of the Degania dam were opened. The rush of water, which deepened the river at this spot, was instrumental in blocking the Iraqi-Jordanian incursion.

Today the power plant and the destroyed village of Tel Or are located on the Jordanian side of the Israel-Jordan border. The remains of the power station are part of the Jordan River Peace Park on the Island of Peace on the Israel-Jordan border.

After the expulsion of the residents of Tel Or, combined with the expulsion of the Jewish residents of the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, an Arab commander remarked,

“For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter. Not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews’ return here impossible.”

The expulsion of Jews from Jordan is part of the overarching occurrences of Jewish expulsion following the establishment of the State of Israel.

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