Ashkelon

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Ashkelon

Ashkelon is a 45-minute drive south from Tel Aviv and about an hour from Jerusalem. With gorgeous beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, Ashkelon is one of the last stops on the coast before reaching the border with Gaza, about 13 km (8 miles) south of Ashkelon. It has a great marina, located between the city’s two beaches, Delila and Bar Kochba. The marina is carved into a cliff in the heart of the city and tourist area. The marina is celebrated among yachting circles and is a chosen spot for regattas. The city has museums and archaeological sites including a 4th century Byzantine church and remains of a synagogue from the same period, a 13th century tomb of Sheik Awad and Roman burial tombs, to name but a few.

Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age. Due to its advantageous location on the sea, many are the kingdoms and empires that sought to control it, and at various times it was ruled over by Canaanites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Persians, Egyptians and Crusaders until it was destroyed by the Mamluks in 1270. During the 16th century, during the Ottoman rule, an Arab village called “al-Majdal” was established nearby and came under British rule during the Mandate. During the 1948 war, Majdal was the forward position for the Egyptian Expeditionary Forces until it was captured by Israeli forces on November 5, 1948 after the Arab population of approximately 11,000 had been forced to leave. The town was called “Migdal Gaza”, “Migdal Gad” and “Migdal Ashkelon” interchangeably until 1953 when the nearby Afridar neighborhood was annexed and the name “Ashkelon” became the official one.

The first immigrants to live in what is today Ashkelon were housed in three ma’abarot (immigrant transit camps); they were from the Arab countries and from Poland and Romania.

The South African Zionist Federation was involved in the development of modern Ashkelon, and a large number of immigrants from South Aftica were among the settlers there in the 1950s through the 1970s. Their area of the Ashkelon was built as a garden city, with orchards surrounding the housing units.

Today the population is over 110,000 people.

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