Place:Ramla, HaMerkaz, Israel


Alt namesRamlehsource: Wikipedia
Ramlāhsource: Wikipedia
Coordinates31.933°N 34.867°E
Located inHaMerkaz, Israel     (716 - )
Contained Places
Ramleh War Cemetery
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Ramla or Ramle (Ramle; , ar-Ramleh) is a city in the Central District of Israel.

The city was founded in the early 8th century CE by the Umayyad prince Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik as the capital of Jund Filastin, the district he governed in Bilad al-Sham before becoming caliph in 715. The city's strategic and economic value derived from its location at the intersection of the Via Maris, connecting Cairo with Damascus, and the road connecting the Mediterranean port of Jaffa with Jerusalem. It rapidly overshadowed the adjacent city of Lydda, whose inhabitants were relocated to the new city. Not long after its establishment, Ramla developed as the commercial centre of Palestine, serving as a hub for pottery, dyeing, weaving, and olive oil, and as the home of numerous Muslim scholars. Its prosperity was lauded by geographers in the 10th–11th centuries, when the city was ruled by the Fatimids and Seljuks.

It lost its role as a provincial capital shortly before the arrival of the First Crusaders, after which it became the scene of various battles between the Crusaders and Fatimids in the first years of the 12th century. Later that century, it became the centre of a lordship in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, a Crusader state established by Godfrey of Bouillon.

Ramla had an Arab-majority population before most were expelled or fled during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The town was subsequently repopulated by Jewish immigrants. , Ramla is one of Israel's mixed cities, with a population 76% Jewish and 24% Arab (see Arab citizens of Israel). In recent decades, attempts have been made to develop and beautify the city, which has been plagued by neglect, financial problems and a negative public image. New shopping malls and public parks have been built, and a municipal museum was opened in 2001.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Early Muslim period

The Umayyad prince and governor of Palestine, Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik, founded Ramla as the seat of his administration, replacing Lydda, the Muslims' original provincial capital. Sulayman had been appointed governor by his father Caliph Abd al-Malik before the end of his reign in 705 and continued in office through the reign of his brother Caliph al-Walid I, whom he succeeded. He died as caliph in 717. Ramla remained the capital of Palestine through the Fatimid period (10th–11th centuries). Its role as the principal city and district capital came to an end shortly before the arrival of the First Crusaders in 1099. It received its name, the singular form of raml (sand), from the sandy area in which it sat.

Sulayman's motives for founding Ramla were personal ambition and practical considerations. The location of Ramla near Lydda, a long-established and prosperous city, was logistically and economically advantageous. The area's economic importance was based on its strategic location at the intersection of the two major roads linking Egypt with Syria (the so-called "Via Maris") and linking Jerusalem with the Mediterranean coast. Sulayman established his city in Lydda's vicinity, avoiding Lydda proper. This was likely due to a lack of available space for wide-scale development and agreements dating to the Muslim conquest in the 630s that, at least formally, precluded him from confiscating desirable property within Lydda. In a tradition recorded by the historian Ibn Fadlallah al-Umari (d. 1347), a determined local Christian cleric refused Sulayman's requests for plots in the middle of Lydda. Infuriated, he attempted to have the cleric executed, but his local adviser Raja ibn Haywa dissuaded him and instead proposed building a new city at a superior, adjacent site. In choosing the site, Sulayman utilized the strategic advantages of Lydda's vicinity while avoiding the physical constraints of an already-established urban center. The historian Moshe Sharon holds that Lydda was "too Christian in ethos for the taste of the Umayyad rulers", particularly following the Arabization and Islamization reforms instituted by Abd al-Malik. According to al-Jahshiyari (d. 942), Sulayman sought a lasting reputation as a great builder following the example of his father and al-Walid, the respective founders of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Great Mosque of Damascus. The construction of Ramla was Sulayman's "way to immortality" and "his personal stamp on the landscape of Palestine", according to Luz.

The first structure Sulayman erected in Ramla was his palatial residence, which dually served as the seat of Palestine's administration. The next structure was the Dar al-Sabbaghin (House of the Dyers). At the center of the new city was a congregational mosque, later known as the White Mosque. It was not completed until the reign of Sulayman's successor Caliph Umar II. The Sulayman's construction works were financially managed by a Christian from Lydda, Bitrik ibn al-Naka. The remains of the White Mosque, dominated by a minaret added at a later date, are visible in the present day. In the courtyard are underground water cisterns from the Umayyad period. From early on, Ramla developed economically as a market town for the surrounding area's agricultural products, and as a center for dyeing, weaving and pottery. It was also home to many Muslim religious scholars. Sulayman built an aqueduct in the city called al-Barada, which transported water to Ramla from Tel Gezer, about to the southeast. Ramla superseded Lydda as the commercial center of Palestine. Many of Lydda's Christian, Samaritan and Jewish inhabitants were moved to the new city. Although the traditional accounts are in agreement that Lydda almost immediately fell into obscurity following the founding of Ramla, narratives vary about the extent of Sulayman's efforts to transfer Lydda's inhabitants to Ramla, some holding that he only demolished a church in Lydda and others that he demolished the city altogether. Al-Ya'qubi (d. 839) noted Sulayman razed the houses of Lydda's inhabitants to force their relocation to Ramla and punished those who resisted. In the words of al-Jahshiyari, Sulayman "founded the town of al-Ramla and its mosque and thus caused the ruin of Lod [Lydda]".

The Abbasids toppled the Umayyads in 750, confiscating the White Mosque and all other Umayyad properties in Ramla. The Abbasids annually reviewed the high costs of maintaining the Barada canal, though starting under the reign of Caliph al-Mu'tasim it became a regular part of the state's expenditures. In the late 9th century the Muslim inhabitants were composed mainly of Arabs and Persians, while the clients of the Muslims were Samaritans. The golden age of Ramla under the Umayyads and Abbasids, when the city overtook Jerusalem as a trade center, later gave way to a period of political instability and war beginning in the late 10th century. The Egypt-based Fatimids conquered Ramla in 969 and ten years later the city was destroyed by the Jarrahids, a branch of the Tayy tribe. Nonetheless, the 10th-century Jerusalemite geographer al-Muqaddasi described Ramla as "a fine city, and well built; its water is good and plentiful; it fruits are abundant". He noted that it "combines manifold advantages, situated as it is in the midst of beautiful villages and lordly towns, near to holy places and pleasant hamlets", as well as bountiful fields, walled towns and hospices. The geographer further noted the city's significant commerce and "excellent markets", lauding the quality of its fruits and bread as the best of their kind. During this period, Ramla was one of the major centers for the production and export of oil extracted from unripe olives, known as anfa kinon (Greek: ὀμφάκιον, ὀμφάχινον; Latin: omphacium; ), and used in cuisine and medicine. Conversely, the city's disadvantages included the severe muddiness of the place during the rainy winter season and its hard, sandy grounds due to its distance from natural water sources. The limited drinking water gathered in the city's cisterns were generally inaccessible to the poorer inhabitants.

By 1011–1012 the Jarrahids controlled all of Palestine, except for the coastal towns, and captured Ramla from its Fatimid garrison, making it their capital. The city and the surrounding places were plundered by the Bedouin, impoverishing much of the population. The Jarrahids brought the Alid emir of Mecca, al-Hasan ibn Ja'far, to act as caliph in defiance of the Fatimids. The development was short-lived, as the Jarrahids abandoned al-Hasan after Fatimid bribes, and the caliphal claimant left the city for Mecca. A Fatimid army led by Ali ibn Ja'far ibn Fallah wrested control of Ramla from the Jarrahids, who continued to dominate the surrounding countryside. The next ten years were marked by peace, but in 1024 the Jarrahids renewed their rebellion. The Fatimid general Anushtakin al-Dizbari secured Ramla for a few months, but the Jarrahids overran the city that year, killing and harassing several inhabitants and seizing much of the population's wealth. They appointed their own governor, Nasr Allah ibn Nizal. In the following year, al-Dizbari drove the Jarrahids out of Ramla, but was recalled to Egypt in 1026. In 1029 he returned and routed the Jarrahids and their Bedouin allies.

The Persian geographer Nasir-i-Khusrau visited the city in 1047, remarking:

Ramla is a great city, with strong walls built of stone, mortared, of great height and thickness, with iron gates opening therein. From the town to the sea-coast is a distance of three leagues. The inhabitants get their water from the rainfall, and in each house is a tank for storing the same, in order that there may always be a supply. In the middle of the Friday Mosque [White Mosque], also, is a large tank: and from it, when it is filled with water, anyone who wishes may take. The area of the mosque measures two hundred paces (Gam) by three hundred. Over one of its porches (suffah) is an inscription stating that on the 15th of Muharram, of the year 425 (=10th of December, 1033 CE), there came an earthquake of great violence, which threw down a large number of buildings, but that no single person sustained an injury. In the city of Ramla there is marble in plenty, and most of the buildings and private houses are of this material; and, further, the surface thereof they do most beautifully sculpture and ornament. They cut the marble here with a toothless saw, which is worked with 'Mekka sand'. They saw the marble in length, as is the case with wood, to form the columns; not in across; they also cut it into slabs. The marbles that I saw here were of all colours, some variegated, some green, red, black and white. There is, too, at Ramla, a particular kind of fig, and this they export to all the countries round. This city Ramla, throughout Syria and the West, is known under the name of Filastin.

Crusader period

The armies of the First Crusade took the hastily evacuated town without a fight. In the early years of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem though, control over this strategic location led to three consecutive battles between the Crusaders and Egyptian armies from Ascalon, a Fatimid-held town along the southern coast of Palestine. As Crusader rule stabilized, Ramla became the seat of a seigneury in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Lordship of Ramla within the County of Jaffa and Ascalon. It was a city of some economic significance and an important way station for pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem. The Crusaders identified it with the biblical Ramathaim and called it Arimathea.

Around 1163, the rabbi and traveller Benjamin of Tudela, who also mistook it for a more ancient city, visited "Rama, or Ramleh, where there are remains of the walls from the days of our ancestors, for thus it was found written upon the stones. About 300 Jews dwell there. It was formerly a very great city; at a distance of two miles (3 km) there is a large Jewish cemetery."

Ottoman period

In the early days of the Ottoman period, in 1548, a census was taken recording 528 Muslim families and 82 Christian families living in Ramla.

On March 2, 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Ramla during his unsuccessful bid to conquer Palestine, using the Franciscan hospice as his headquarters. The village appeared as 'Ramleh' on the map of Pierre Jacotin compiled during this campaign.

In 1838 Edward Robinson found Ramleh to be a town of about 3000 inhabitants, surrounded by olive-groves and vegetables. It had few streets, and the houses were made of stone and were well-built. There were several mosques in the town.

In 1863 Victor Guérin noted that the Latin (Catholic) population was reduced to two priests and 50 parishioners. In 1869, the population was given as 3,460; 3000 Muslims, 400 Greek Orthodox and 60 Catholics.

In 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine noted that there was a bazaar in the town, "but its prosperity has much decayed, and many of the houses are falling into ruins, including the Serai." Expansion began only at the end of the 19th century.

In 1889, 31 Jewish worker families settled in the town, which had no Jewish population at the time.

British Mandate period

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, 'Ramleh' had a population of 7,312 inhabitants; 5,837 Muslims, 1,440 Christians and 35 Jews. The Christians were further noted by denomination: 1,226 Orthodox, 2 Syriac Orthodox (Jacobites), 150 Roman Catholics, 8 Melkite Catholics, 4 Maronite, 15 Armenian, 2 Abyssinian Church and 36 Anglicans.

Less than a decade later, the population had increased nearly 25%; the 1931 census recorded 10,347 people, of whom there were 8,157 Muslims, 5 Jews, 2,194 Christians and 2 Druze, in a total of 2,339 houses.

Ramla was connected to wired electricity (supplied by the Zionist-owned Palestine Electric Company) towards the end of the 1920s. Economist Basim Faris noted this fact as proof of Ramla's higher standard of living than neighbouring Lydda. In Ramla, he wrote, "economic demands triumph over nationalism" while Lydda, "which is ten minutes' walk from Ramleh, is still averse to such a convenience as electric current, and so is not as yet served; perhaps the low standard of living of the poor population prevents the use of the service at the present rates, which cannot compete with petroleum for lighting".

Sheikh Mustafa Khairi was mayor of Ramla from 1920 to 1947.

The 1945/46 survey gives 'Ramle' a population of 15,160, of whom 11,900 were Muslim and 3,260 Christian.

1947–48 war

Ramla was part of the territory allotted to a proposed Arab state under the 1947 UN Partition Plan. However, Ramla's geographic location and its strategic position on the main supply route to Jerusalem made it a point of contention during the 1947–1948 civil war, followed by the internationalised 1948 Arab–Israeli War. A bomb by the Jewish militia group Irgun went off in the Ramla market on February 18, killing 7 residents and injuring 45. After a number of unsuccessful raids on Ramla, the Israeli army launched Operation Dani. Ramla was captured on 12 July 1948, a few days after the capture of Lydda. The Arab resistance surrendered on July 12, and most of the remaining inhabitants were driven out. A disputed claim, advanced by scholars including Ilan Pappé, characterizes this as ethnic cleansing.[1] After the Israeli capture, some 1,000 Arabs remained in Ramla; more were transferred to the town by the IDF from outlying Arab settlements.

State of Israel

Ramla became a mixed Jewish–Arab town within the state of Israel. Arab homes of those who left in Ramla were given by the Israeli government to Jewish immigrants arriving at this time. In February 1949, the Jewish population was over 6,000. Ramla remained economically depressed over the next two decades, although the population steadily mounted, reaching 34,000 by 1972.

In 2015, Ramla had one of Israel's highest crime rates. A 2013 Israeli police report documented that the Central District ranks fourth among Israel's seven districts in terms of drug-related arrests. Today, five of Israel's prisons are located in Ramla, including the maximum-security Ayalon Prison and the country's only women's prison, called Neve Tirza.

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