Tel Aviv is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 414,600 within its administrative limits. It is located on the Mediterranean coast in central-west Israel, within Gush Dan, Israel's largest metropolitan area, containing 42% of Israel's population. It is also the largest and most populous city in Gush Dan, which is collectively home to 3,464,100 residents. The city is governed by the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality, headed by Ron Huldai. Residents of Tel Aviv are referred to as Tel Avivim (singular: Tel Avivi). As the United Nations and all other countries do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Tel Aviv is home to many foreign embassies.
Tel Aviv was founded by the Jewish community on the outskirts of the ancient port city of Jaffa in 1909. Jewish immigration meant that the growth of Tel Aviv soon outpaced Jaffa, which had a majority Arab population at the time. Tel Aviv and Jaffa were merged into a single municipality in 1950, two years after the establishment of the State of Israel. Tel Aviv's White City, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, comprises the world's largest concentration of Bauhaus buildings.
Tel Aviv is an economic hub, home to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, corporate offices and research and development centers. It is the country's financial capital and a major performing arts and business center. Tel Aviv has the second-largest economy in the Middle East after Dubai, and is the 31st most expensive city in the world. With 2.5 million international visitors annually, Tel Aviv is the fifth-most-visited city in the Middle East. It is known as "the city that never sleeps" and a "party capital" due to its lively nightlife, dynamic atmosphere and famous 24-hour culture. Tel Aviv, Me̲hoz is a national district.
The ancient port of Jaffa changed hands many times in the course of history. Archeological excavations from 1955 to 1974 unearthed towers and gates from the Middle Bronze Age. Subsequent excavations, from 1997 onwards, helped date earlier discoveries. They also exposed sections of a packed-sandstone glacis and a massive brick wall, dating from the Late Bronze Age, as well as a temple attributed to the Sea Peoples and dwellings from the Iron Age. Remnants of buildings from the Persian and Hellenistic periods were also discovered.
The city, Jaffa, is first mentioned in letters from 1470 BC that record its conquest by Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III. Jaffa is mentioned several times in the Bible, as the port from which Jonah set sail for Tarshish; as bordering on the territory of the Tribe of Dan; and as the Jaffa Port at which the wood for Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem arrived from Lebanon. Jaffa is also mentioned as the place where the Apostle Peter raised Tabitha and visited Simon the Tanner. According to some sources it has been a port for at least 4,000 years.
In 1099, the Catholic armies of the First Crusade, led by Godfrey of Bouillon, occupied Jaffa, which had been abandoned by the Muslims, fortified the town and improved its harbor. As the County of Jaffa, the town soon became important as the main sea supply route for the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Jaffa was captured by Saladin in 1192 but swiftly re-taken by Richard the Lionheart, who added to its defenses. In 1223, Emperor Frederick II added further fortifications. Crusader domination ended in 1268, when the Mamluk Sultan Baibars captured the town, destroyed its harbor and razed its fortifications. In 1336, when a new Crusade was being planned, Al-Nasir Muhammad had the harbor destroyed to prevent the Franks from landing there. For the same reason, both the town and the harbor were destroyed in 1345. In the 16th century, Jaffa was conquered by the Ottomans and was administered as a village in the Sanjak of Gaza.
Napoleon besieged the city in 1799 and killed scores of inhabitants; a plague epidemic followed, decimating the remaining population. The surrendering garrison of several thousand Muslims was massacred.
Jaffa began to grow as an urban center in the early 18th century, when the Ottoman government in Istanbul intervened to guard the port and reduce attacks by Bedouins and pirates. However, the real expansion came during the 19th century, when the population grew from 2,500 in 1806 to 17,000 in 1886.
From 1800 to 1870, many of Jaffa's old walls and towers were torn down to allow for expansion. The sea wall, high, remained intact until the 1930s, when it was built over during a renovation of the port by the British Mandatory authorities. During the mid-19th century, the city grew prosperous from trade, especially in silk and Jaffa oranges, with Europe. In the 1860s Jaffa's small Sephardic community was joined by Jews from Morocco and small numbers of Ashkenazi Jews.
The first Jews to settle outside of Jaffa, in the area of modern day Tel Aviv, were Yemenite Jews. These homes, built in 1881, later became the core of Kerem HaTeimanim (Hebrew for "the Vineyard of the Yemenites"). In 1896 Yemenite Jews established homes at Mahane Yehuda, and in 1904, Mahane Yossef. These neighbourhoods later became the Shabazi neighbourhood.
During the 1880s, Ashkenazi immigration to Jaffa increased with the onset of the First Aliyah. The new arrivals were motivated more by Zionism than religion and came to farm the land and engage in productive labor. In keeping with their "pioneer" ideology, some settled in the sand dunes north of Jaffa. Between 1887 and 1899, Ashkenazi settlers constructed houses at Neve Tzedek and in 1890 at Neve Shalom nearby.
The Second Aliyah led to further expansion. In 1906, a group of Jews, among them residents of Jaffa, followed the initiative of Akiva Arye Weiss and banded together to form the Ahuzat Bayit (lit. "homestead") society. The society's goal was to form a "Hebrew urban centre in a healthy environment, planned according to the rules of aesthetics and modern hygiene." The urban planning for the new city was influenced by the Garden city movement. The first 60 plots were purchased in Kerem Djebali near Jaffa by Jacobus Kann, a Dutch citizen, who registered them in his name to circumvent the Turkish prohibition on Jewish land acquisition. Meir Dizengoff, later Tel Aviv's first mayor, also joined the Ahuzat Bayit society. His vision for Tel Aviv involved peaceful co-existence with Arabs.
In April 1909, 66 Jewish families gathered on a desolate sand dune to parcel out the land by lottery using seashells. This gathering is considered the official date of the establishment of Tel Aviv. The lottery was organised by Akiva Arye Weiss, president of the building society. Weiss collected 120 sea shells on the beach, half of them white and half of them grey. The members' names were written on the white shells and the plot numbers on the grey shells. A boy drew names from one box of shells and a girl drew plot numbers from the second box. A photographer, Avraham Soskin, documented the event. The first water well was later dug at this site (today Rothschild Boulevard, across from Dizengoff House). Within a year, Herzl, Ahad Ha'am, Yehuda Halevi, Lilienblum, and Rothschild streets were built; a water system was installed; and 66 houses (including some on six subdivided plots) were completed. At the end of Herzl Street, a plot was allocated for a new building for the Herzliya Hebrew High School, founded in Jaffa in 1906. On 21 May 1910, the name Tel Aviv was adopted. Tel Aviv was planned as an independent Hebrew city with wide streets and boulevards, running water at each house and street lights.
By 1914, Tel Aviv had grown to more than . However, growth halted in 1917 when the Ottoman authorities expelled the Jews of Jaffa and Tel Aviv. A report published in The New York Times by United States Consul Garrels in Alexandria, Egypt described the Jaffa deportation of early April 1917. The orders of evacuation were aimed chiefly at the Jewish population. Jews were free to return to their homes in Tel Aviv at the end of the following year when, with the end of World War I and the defeat of the Ottomans, the British took control of Palestine.
Under the British Mandate
With increasing Jewish immigration during the British administration, friction between Arabs and Jews in Palestine increased. On 1 May 1921, the Jaffa Riots resulted in the deaths of 48 Arabs and 47 Jews and injuries to 146 Jews and 73 Arabs. In the wake of this violence, many Jews left Jaffa for Tel Aviv, increasing the population of Tel Aviv from 2,000 in 1920 to around 34,000 by 1925.
Tel Aviv began to develop as a commercial center. In 1923, Tel Aviv was the first town to be wired to electricity in Palestine, followed by Jaffa later in the same year. The opening ceremony of the Jaffa Electric Company powerhouse, on June 10, 1923, celebrated the lighting of the two main streets of Tel Aviv.
In 1925, the Scottish biologist, sociologist, philanthropist and pioneering town planner Patrick Geddes drew up a master plan for Tel Aviv which was adopted by the city council led by Meir Dizengoff. This first plan for developing the northern part of the district was called "The Geddes Plan", whose core idea was the development of a Garden City or "urban village," combining the best of urban and rural life. The boundaries used by Geddes, the Yarkon River in the North and Ibn Gvirol Street in the East, are now the boundaries of Tel Aviv's .
Ben Gurion House was built in 1930–31, part of a new worker's housing development. At the same time, Jewish cultural life was given a boost by the establishment of the Ohel Theater and the decision of Habima Theatre to make Tel Aviv its permanent base in 1931.
Tel Aviv was granted municipal status in 1934. The Jewish population rose dramatically during the Fifth Aliyah after the Nazis came to power in Germany. By 1937 the Jewish population of Tel Aviv had risen to 150,000, compared to Jaffa's mainly Palestinians 69,000 residents. Within two years, it had reached 160,000, which was over a third of Palestine's total Jewish population. Many new Jewish immigrants to Palestine disembarked in Jaffa, and remained in Tel Aviv, turning the city into a center of urban life. Friction during the 1936–39 Arab revolt, led to the opening of a local Jewish port, Tel Aviv Port, independent of Jaffa, in 1938, (it closed on 25 October 1965). Lydda Airport (later Ben Gurion Airport) and Sde Dov Airport opened between 1937 and 1938.
Many German Jewish architects trained at the Bauhaus, the Modernist school of architecture fled Germany. Some, like architect Arieh Sharon, came to Palestine and adapted the architectural outlook of the Bauhaus as well as other similar schools, to local conditions, creating what is recognized as the largest concentration of buildings in the International Style in the world. Tel Aviv's White City emerged in the 1930s, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. Tel Aviv was hit during the Italian Bombing of Palestine in World War II. On 9 September 1940, 137 were killed in the bombing of Tel Aviv.
According to the 1947 UN Partition Plan for dividing Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, Tel Aviv, by then a city of 230,000, was included in the new Jewish state. Jaffa with, as of 1945, a population of 101,580 people, consisting of 53,930 Muslims, 30,820 Jews and 16,800 Christians, was designated as part of the Arab state. The Palestinian Arabs, however, rejected the plan. Between 1947 and 1948, tensions grew between Tel Aviv and Jaffa. When fighting broke out, the Haganah and Irgun Jewish para-military forces laid virtual siege to Jaffa. Arab snipers were reported firing at Jews from the minarets of the Hassan Bek Mosque. From April 1948, the Palestinians residents of Jaffa were forced to flee. By the time Jaffa had been captured by Jewish forces on 14 May, few Palestinian Arabs remained.
After Israeli independence
When Israel declared Independence on 14 May 1948, the population of Tel Aviv was over 200,000. Tel Aviv was the temporary government center of the State of Israel until the government moved to Jerusalem in December 1949. Due to the international dispute over the status of Jerusalem, most foreign embassies remained in or near Tel Aviv. In the early 1980s, 13 embassies in Jerusalem moved to Tel Aviv as part of the UN's measures responding to Israel's 1980 Jerusalem Law. Today, all national embassies are in Tel Aviv or environs. The boundaries of Tel Aviv and Jaffa became a matter of contention between the Tel Aviv municipality and the Israeli government in 1948. The former wished to incorporate only the northern Jewish suburbs of Jaffa, while the latter wanted a more complete unification. The issue also had international sensitivity, since the main part of Jaffa was in the Arab portion of the United Nations Partition Plan, whereas Tel Aviv was not, and no armistice agreements had yet been signed. On 10 December 1948, the government announced the annexation to Tel Aviv of Jaffa's Jewish suburbs, the Palestinian neighborhood of Abu Kabir, the Palestinian village of Salama and some of its agricultural land, and the Jewish 'Hatikva' slum. On 25 February 1949, the abandoned Palestinian village of al-Shaykh Muwannis was also annexed to Tel Aviv. On 18 May 1949, Manshiya and part of Jaffa's central zone were added, for the first time including land that had been in the Arab portion of the UN partition plan. The government voted on the unification of Tel Aviv and Jaffa on 4 October 1949, but the decision was not implemented until 24 April 1950 due to the opposition of Tel Aviv mayor Israel Rokach. The name of the unified city was Tel Aviv until 19 August 1950, when it was renamed Tel Aviv-Yafo in order to preserve the historical name Jaffa.
Tel Aviv thus grew to . In 1949, a memorial to the 60 founders of Tel Aviv was constructed. Over the past 60 years, Tel Aviv has developed into a secular, liberal-minded center with a vibrant nightlife and café culture.
In the 1960s, some of the older buildings were demolished, making way for the country's first high-rises. Shalom Meir Tower was Israel's tallest building until 1999. Tel Aviv's population peaked in the early 1960s at 390,000, representing 16 percent of the country's total. A long period of steady decline followed, however, and by the late 1980s the city had an aging population of 317,000. High property prices pushed families out and deterred young people from moving in. At this time, gentrification began in the poor neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv, and the old port in the north was renewed. New laws were introduced to protect Modernist buildings, and efforts to preserve them were aided by UNESCO recognition of the Tel Aviv's White City as a world heritage site. In the early 1990s, the decline in population was reversed, partly due to the large wave of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Tel Aviv also began to emerge as a high-tech center. The construction of many skyscrapers and high-tech office buildings followed. In 1993, Tel Aviv was categorized as a world city. The city is regarded as a strong candidate for global city status.
In the Gulf War in 1991, Tel Aviv was attacked by Scud missiles from Iraq. Iraq hoped to provoke an Israeli military response, which could have destroyed the US–Arab alliance. The United States pressured Israel not to retaliate, and after Israel acquiesced, the US and Netherlands rushed Patriot missiles to defend against the attacks, but they proved largely ineffective. Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities continued to be hit by Scuds throughout the war, and every city in the Tel Aviv area except for Bnei Brak was hit. A total of 74 Israelis died as a result of the Iraqi attacks, mostly from suffocation and heart attacks, while approximately 230 Israelis were injured. Extensive property damage was also caused, and some 4,000 Israelis were left homeless. It was feared that Iraq would fire missiles filled with nerve agents or sarin. As a result, the Israeli government issued gas masks to its citizens. When the first Iraqi missiles hit Israel, some people injected themselves with an antidote for nerve gas. The inhabitants of the southeastern suburb of HaTikva erected an angel-monument as a sign of their gratitude that "it was through a great miracle, that many people were preserved from being killed by a direct hit of a Scud rocket."
On 4 November 1995, Israel's prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated at a rally in Tel Aviv in support of the Oslo peace accord. The outdoor plaza where this occurred, formerly known as Kikar Malchei Yisrael, was renamed Rabin Square.
In 2009, Tel Aviv celebrated its official centennial. In addition to city- and country-wide celebrations, digital collections of historical materials were assembled. These include the History section of the official Tel Aviv-Yafo Centennial Year website; the Ahuzat Bayit collection, which focuses on the founding families of Tel Aviv, and includes photographs and biographies; and Stanford University's Eliasaf Robinson Tel Aviv Collection, documenting the history of the city.
Since the First Intifada, Tel Aviv has suffered from Palestinian political violence. The first suicide attack in Tel Aviv occurred on 19 October 1994, on the Line 5 bus, when a bomber killed 22 civilians and injured 50 as part of a Hamas suicide campaign. On 6 March 1996, another Hamas suicide bomber killed 13 people (12 civilians and 1 soldier) in the Dizengoff Center suicide bombing. Three women were killed by a Hamas terrorist in the Café Apropo bombing on 27 March 1997.
One of the most deadly attacks occurred on 1 June 2001, during the Second Intifada, when a suicide bomber exploded at the entrance to the Dolphinarium discothèque, killing 21, mostly teenagers, and injuring 132. Another Hamas suicide bomber killed six civilians and injured 70 in the Allenby Street bus bombing. Twenty-three civilians were killed and over 100 injured in the Tel-Aviv central bus station massacre. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. In the Mike's Place suicide bombing, an attack on a bar by a British Muslim suicide bomber resulted in the deaths of three civilians and wounded over 50. Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed joint responsibility. An Islamic Jihad bomber killed five and wounded over 50 in the 25 February 2005 Stage Club bombing. The most recent suicide attack in the city occurred on 17 April 2006, when 11 people were killed and at least 70 wounded in a suicide bombing near the old central bus station.
Another attack took place on 29 August 2011 in which a Palestinian attacker stole an Israeli taxi cab and rammed it into a police checkpoint guarding the popular Haoman 17 nightclub in Tel Aviv which was filled with 2,000 Israeli teenagers. After crashing, the assailant went on a stabbing spree, injuring eight people. Due to an Israel Border Police roadblock at the entrance and immediate response of the Border Police team during the subsequent stabbings, a much larger and fatal mass-casualty incident was avoided.
On 21 November 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, the Tel Aviv area was targeted by rockets, and air raid sirens were sounded in the city for the first time since the Gulf War. All of the rockets either missed populated areas or were shot down by an Iron Dome rocket defense battery stationed near the city. During the operation, a bomb blast on a bus wounded at least 28 civilians, three seriously. This was described as a terrorist attack by Israel, Russia, and the United States and was condemned by the United Nations, United States, United Kingdom, France and Russia, whilst Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri declared that the organisation "blesses" the attack.