Coordinates: 33°02′55″N 35°06′06″E / 33.04864°N 35.10177°E / 33.04864; 35.10177

Akhzivland is a micronation between Nahariya and the Lebanese border on the Israeli west coast, founded by Eli Avivi in 1971. The micronation is promoted by the Israel Ministry of Tourism even though its legal status remains ambiguous.[1][2]

History[edit]

The micronation is located near the ruins of Achziv, an ancient settlement on the Mediterranean coast in the Western Galilee, about 5 kilometers north of Nahariya. A national park, field school, and the ruins of the Palestinian village of Az-Zeeb, which was captured by the Carmeli Brigade during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, are located nearby.

The current site of Akhzivland is situated near the ancient port city of Achziv. Based on archeological findings and the numerous burial sites located in the region, it is thought that Achziv was already an important commercial center during the Iron Age. In the Book of Joshua, Achziv is mentioned as one of the nine cities of the Kingdom of Judah. A thriving city was also located on the site during the time of the Mishnah. During the Crusader period, the city was given as a gift to a knight. During the Mamluk period, it was conquered by the Mamluk general Baibars, who established a fishing village at the site called Az-Zeeb. Its residents fled Az-Zeeb during Operation Ben-Ami in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.[3]

The Akhzivland Museum in 2015

In 1952, Iranian-born sailor and Palmach veteran Eli Avivi moved into buildings in the villages.[4] According to former residents of Az Zeeb, Avivi was hired by a family of fishermen, and later moved into the family’s house in 1955.[3]

In 1961, the Israeli government granted the French resort company Club Med a fifty-year lease over part of the area’s coastline.[3]

In 1970, the Israeli government sent bulldozers to demolish the home in which Avivi had been living. In protest, Eli founded Akhzivland in 1971, setting up a hostel and a museum inside the former home of the mukhtar of Az-Zeeb. The micronation became a tourist site—described by Haaretz as a “hippy micro state”—attracting artists, models, writers, politicians, and countercultural figures,[5] including Shimon Peres, Bar Refaeli, Sophia Loren, and Paul Newman.[6][7]

The micronation elected Avivi to be President (according to the constitution “The president is democratically elected by his own vote”), established a flag and national anthem, and even issued passports. For a certain time, visitors’ passports received a special stamp. Following the founding of Akhzivland, Avivi was arrested and detained, but was released 10 days later after a judge ruled that the charge of “Creation of a Country Without Permission” did not exist.[4] After Avivi sued the Israeli government, a court ruled to lease the area to Avivi for 99 years, but did not rule on the legal status of the state.[6]

In 1971, six Palestinian gunmen infiltrated Israel by sea from Lebanon, landing on the beach of Achziv. One of the gunmen entered the house but was stopped at gunpoint by Avivi’s wife, Rina, dropping his weapon and a bag of grenades. Two more gunmen were caught by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at the boat, while the other three were captured inland.

Akhzivland now contains a guest house, beachfront campground, and a museum of local findings from the sea and seashore.[8]

Eli Avivi died of pneumonia on May 16, 2018.[9][5]

The flag of Akhzivland has two white images with blue lines. One of them depicts a house which is the main building in Akhzivland. The other image depicts a mermaid resembling the one in the flag of Eemsmond, a Dutch municipality.

References[edit]

  • Knupper, Franziska. “On the Jewish state’s micro-state, an Israeli couple rules a beach for 65 years,” Jewish News Service, jns.org, March 2, 2017.

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