Ashkelon

| April 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
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Ashkelon Israel

Ashkelon is a beautiful beach town on Israel’s southern Mediterranean coast. The name is derived from the Hebrew word shekel, a weight.

The City of Ashkelon

The City of Ashkelon (Photo: Public Domain)

In ancient Egypt Ashekelon was referred to as Askala or Askanu. The Romans called it Ascalonia. It is located just 8 miles (13 km) from the Gaza border. Ashkelon has 7.5 miles (12 km) of wonderful beaches, a marina, a museum, a cultural center, and an excellent educational system, including a college and many fascinating archeological remains, many of which are in Tel Ashkelon and in the Ashkelon National Park. Ashkelon’s reverse-osmosis plant for desalinating sea water is the largest in the world.

The economy of the city is based on tourism, clean industries, services and commerce, but for those who commute to jobs elsewhere, Ashkelon has excellent transportation. It is possible to easily travel by bus train or sherut taxis from Ashkelon to Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva or, in fact, anywhere in the country.

In order to promote more tourism Ashkelon is in the Category “A” Development Area for Tourism Investments, in which the government gives financial incentives to developers and entrepreneurs to establish new projects and business that will increase tourism to Ashkelon.

Ashkelon Israel: The Old and the New

The Old and the New (Photo: Ori®)

Ashkelon History

The Bible cites Ashkelon as one of the five Philistine cities; in the Book of Judges it is written that Ashkelon was part of the area for the tribe of Yehuda (Judah), but apparently they did not manage to take it away from the Philistines for very long. The story of Shimshon (Samson) and Delilah, the Philistine woman who cut off his hair and caused him to lose his strength, also took place here. The Philistine giant Goliath, who was killed by David, came from Ashkelon. Many kings and armies occupied Ashkelon at various times in history because of its key strategic importance.

During the Crusades in 1099, shortly after the siege of Jerusalem, the Battle of Ashkelon was fought, in which the Crusaders defeated the Egyptian Fatimid army that led to the destruction of Jerusalem in July 1099. This was considered to be the end of the First Crusade.

During the time of the Chashmona’im (Hasmoneans), the Jewish King Alexander Yanai ruled Ashkelon for a short time, while Herod ruled during Roman times. Jewish tradition claims that the Edomite King Herod, who ruled over the Jews for the Romans, was born in Ashkelon in 37 BCE.

During Ottomon rule Migdal was the name of this place. The Ottomon mandate came to an end in November 9, 1917 when Migdal fell to the British, who built a large building for police there called Tiggert and another building near the sea for the coast guard. The British policed the coast to keep out Jews who were trying to clandestinely enter the land of Israel. Jewish settlements in the area were Kibbutz Negba, founded in 1939, Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, founded in 1943, and Kibbutz Nitzanim, founded in 1944.

Ashkelon Municipality

Ashkelon Municipality (Photo: צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר, CC BY 2.5)

Migdal

On May 15, 1948 the State of Israel was declared and the Egyptian army invaded from the south and established its base in Migdal. From Migdal a branch of the Egyptian army that was marching towards Tel Aviv was stopped at the Ad Halom Bridge in Ashdod. On October 15, 1948, Operation Ten Plagues, also called the Yoav Campaign, began. This campaign resulted in the defeat of the Egyptian Army, who withdrew to Gaza.

Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Turkey, Greece, Yemen and Iraq arrived in 1949 to settle in Migdal-Ashkelon, which was declared a city in1951 at the same time that a new neighborhood settled by South African Jews, Afridar, was established. In 1953 Migdal-Ashkelon and Afridar were united as the city of Ashkelon. 

Ashkelon: Did You Know?

In order to encourage more tourism in Ashkelon there are plans to build many new hotels, vacation apartments, resort villages, golf courses, pools, gardens, entertainment areas and places suitable for water sports.

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