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Settlement of Gat, east of Gaza road, established in 1941, photo taken in 1946

Kiryat Gat ( , ), is a city in the Southern Districtmarker of Israelmarker. It lies south of Tel-Avivmarker, north of Beershebamarker and from Jerusalemmarker. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), at the end of 2007 the city had a total population of 47,800.


Kiryat Gat is named for Gathmarker, one of the five major cities of the Philistines. In Hebrew, "gat" means "press". In the 1950s, archaeologists found ruins at nearby tel which were mistaken for the Philistine city of Gath. The real Gath was later discovered thirteen kilometers to the northeast at Tel es-Safimarker/Tel Gath. Gath was the hometown of the biblical giant Goliath the Gittite.

1948 war

Kiryat Gat was originally land divided between the Palestinian villages al-Falujamarker and Iraq al-Manshiyyamarker, also called the "Faluja Pocketmarker". The land is considered well within the 'Green Linemarker', however, it's legitimacy is contended. As of late May 1948, the "Faluja pocket" was occupied by Egyptian forces consisting of approximately 4,000 troops. Israeli counter-offensives later broke up this front and laid siege, but fighting continued until the 24th of February, 1949, when an armistice was agreed upon between Egypt and Israel. The Egyptians, as a condition of their withdrawal, asked that Israel guarantee the safety of the civilians in the area, which consisted of approximately 2,000 locals and 1,100 refugees from other parts of Palestine. In an exchange of letters that were filed with the United Nations and appended to the main armistice agreement, the two governments agreed that civilians who wished to remain in al-Faluja and 'Iraq al-Manshiya would be permitted to do so. In these letters it was written that "All of these civilians shall be fully secure in their persons, abodes, property and personal effects." Then, according to historian Benny Morris, Israeli troops promptly mounted "a short, sharp, well-orchestrated campaign of low-key violence and psychological warfare designed to intimidate the inhabitants into flight."

During this time, UN observers reporting to Ralph Bunche reported not only beatings and robberies, but also cases of attempted rape and "promiscuous firing" on civilians by Israeli soldiers. These such reports made their way to Moshe Sharett, who, on March 6th 1949, sent an angry memo to the Israeli army stating that it's actions in the 'Faluja pocket' was jeopordizing their "sincerity as a party to an international agreement." Noting that Israel was trying to argue at the UN that it was not responsible for the Palestinian refugee problem, he wrote, "From this perspective, the sincerity of our professions is tested by our behavior in these villages. ... Every intentional pressure aimed at uprooting [the local population] is tantamount to a planned act of eviction on our part."

Moshe Sharett was not only against the outright violence, but also made statements about what he called a "whispering propaganda campaign" where it is alleged the Israeli army was threatening civilians with attacks and acts of vengeance by the army if the civilians didn't leave. "This whispering propaganda is not being done of itself," Sharett wrote. "There is no doubt that here there is a calculated action aimed at increasing the number of those going to the Hebron Hills [then controlled by Jordan] as if of their own free will, and, if possible, to bring about the evacuation of the whole civilian population [of the 'Faluja pocket']"

By mid march, all of the residents of al-Faluja had abandoned their homes, but it wasn't until April 21-22nd, in Red Crossmarker-organized convoys, and under pressure from more shootings, that the residents of 'Iraq al-Manshiya left their own. Five days later Yitzhak Rabin ordered the demolition of both villages.

History since the 1948 war

Modern Kiryat Gat was established in 1955 as a development town by 18 families from Morocco. It was situated on land of the nearby Palestinian village of Iraq al-Manshiyyamarker, which was depopulated in 1948.

The population rose quickly from 4,400 inhabitants in 1958 to 17,000 in 1969, mostly Jewish immigrants from North Africa. The economy was initially based on processing the agricultural produce of the Lachishmarker region, such as cotton and wool. In December 1972, Kiryat Gat's municipal status was upgraded and it became Israel's 31st city.


According to Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, the city's population in 2005 was 47,600. The ethnic makeup of the city was primarily Jewish and other non-Arabs. In its early years, Kiryat Gat was populated mainly by Jews of Mizrahi origin. Since the mass immigration of Soviet Jews, approximately one third of the inhabitants hail from the former Soviet Union."


The Polgat textile factory was the main employer in the town until it closed in the 1990s. In 1999, Intelmarker opened a chip fabrication plant, known as Fab 18, to produce Pentium 4 chips and flash memories. Intel received a grant of $525 million from the Israeli government to build the plant. In February, 2006, the cornerstone was laid for Intel's second Kiryat Gat plant, Fab 28, which is due to begin production in the second half of 2008. Despite this, Kiryat Gat has one of Israel's highest unemployment rates.

According to CBS figures for 2000, there were 15,257 salaried workers and 1,152 self-employed persons in Kiryat Gat. The mean monthly wage for a salaried worker was 4,125 shekels, a real change of +4.9% over the course of 2000. Salaried males had a mean monthly wage of 5,199 shekels (a real change of +7.3%) compared to 2,956 shekels for females (a real change of -1.8%). The mean income for the self-employed was NIS 5,494. A total of 1,336 residents received unemployment benefits and 6,487 received income supplements.

Schools and education

Kiryat Gat has 25 schools with an enrollment of 10,676. Of these schools, 18 are elementary schools with a student population of 5,498, and 13 are high schools with a student population of 5,178. In 2001, 54.7% of Kiryat Gat's 12th grade students graduated with a matriculation certificate. Kiryat Gat has a Pedagogic Center, science centers, a computerized library and a center devoted to industry, art and technology.


The city's football team, Maccabi Kiryat Gat were promoted to Ligat ha'Al in 2001, but were relegated at the end of their first season at the top level. Since then, financial problems have led to the club being demoted to Liga Alef (the fourth tier), where they remain today.

Notable residents


  1. Khalidi (1992), p.108


External links

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