Recently, Haaretz published a very interesting article about Ottoman/British Mandate “well houses” in Jaffa and its vicinity and its relationship to the Citrus industry during this time. Among others, there is a description of buildings that belong to the El-Azi family in Jaffa. The El-Azi family are long-time inhabitants of the region of Tell es-Safi/Gath and till today they have two groups of houses in which members of the family live, about 3 km to the west of the tell. Also, the El-Azi family has the grazing rights on and around the tell.
Over the years, we, the members of the project have developed a close relationship with the family and in particular with Yunis, the family head (“Sheikh”) and his sons. In fact, every summer, there is the “mandatory” visit to their houses in which we drink tea, eat fruit, and discuss what has happened over the last year.
Here is a link (katzav-and-yunis.jpg) to a picture of Yunis el-Azi (on right with gray shirt) shaking hands with Moshe Katzav (in white shirt), the former president of the State of Israel (the latter, now, “fallen from grace” [and actually, perhaps even on the way to the “slammer” for alleged sexual mis-conduct] …) during the ex-President’s visit to the excavations in the 2005 season (Right behind Yunis and to his right, you can see Dr. Stefan Wimmer’s “gingy” head with sunglasses).
Of particular importance to the project are the stories about the pre-1948 village which Yunis has told us over the years, revealing all kinds of forgotten information about the village of Tell es-Safi, various things about the surrounding areas, and of course, interesting stories about the relationships between the inhabitants of the region in the pre-1948 years.