• אַשְׁקְלוֹן
  • عسقلان
Hebrew transcription(s)
 • ISO 259ʔašqlon
 • Translit.Ashkelon
 • Also spelledAshqelon, Ascalon (unofficial)
Flag of Ashkelon
Coat of arms of Ashqelon.svg
Ashkelon is located in Ashkelon region of Israel
Ashkelon is located in Israel
Coordinates: 31°40′N 34°34′E / 31.667°N 34.567°E / 31.667; 34.567Coordinates: 31°40′N 34°34′E / 31.667°N 34.567°E / 31.667; 34.567
  • 5880 BCE (Neolithic settlement)
  • 2000 BCE (Canaanite city)
  • 1150 BCE (Philistine rule)
  • 6th century BCE (Classical city)
  • 15th century CE (Arab village)
  • 1953 (Israeli city)
 • MayorTomer Glam
 • Total47,788 dunams (47.788 km2 or 18.451 sq mi)
 • Total144,073
 • Density3,000/km2 (7,800/sq mi)

Ashkelon or Ashqelon (/ˈæʃkəlɒn/; Hebrew: אַשְׁקְלוֹן‎ , ʾAšqəlōn, [aʃkeˈlon]; Philistine: 𐤀𐤔𐤒𐤋𐤍 *ʾAšqalōna[2]), also known as Ascalon (/ˈæskəlɒn/; Ancient Greek: Ασκαλων, Askalōn; Arabic: عَسْقَلَان, ʿAsqalān), is a coastal city in the Southern District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, 50 kilometres (30 mi) south of Tel Aviv, and 13 kilometres (8 mi) north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age. In the course of its history, it has been ruled by the Ancient Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Hasmoneans, the Romans, the Persians, the Arabs and the Crusaders, until it was destroyed by the Mamluks in 1270.

The area's early modern population was centered in the large town of al-Majdal or al-Majdal Asqalan (Arabic: الْمِجْدَل al-Mijdal; Hebrew: אֵל־מִגְ׳דַּל ʾĒl-Mīǧdal), a few kilometres inland from the ancient site. In 1918, it became part of the British Occupied Enemy Territory Administration and in 1920 became part of Mandatory Palestine. Al-Majdal on the eve of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War had 10,000 Arab inhabitants and in October 1948, the city accommodated thousands more refugees from nearby villages.[3] Al-Majdal was the forward position of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force based in Gaza.[4] The village was conquered by Israeli forces on 5 November 1948, by which time most of the Arab population had fled,[5] leaving some 2,700 inhabitants, of which 500 were deported by Israeli soldiers in December 1948.[5]

The town was initially named Migdal Gaza, Migdal Gad and Migdal Ashkelon by the new Jewish inhabitants. Most of the remaining Arabs were deported by 1950.[6] In 1953, the coastal neighborhood of Afridar was incorporated and the name "Ashkelon" was adopted for the combined town. By 1961, Ashkelon was ranked 18th among Israeli urban centers with a population of 24,000.[7] In 2019 the population of Ashkelon was 144,073, making it the third-largest city in Israel's Southern District.[1]


The name Ashkelon is probably western Semitic, and might be connected to the triliteral root š-q-l ("to weigh" from a Semitic root ṯql, akin to Hebrew šāqal שָקַל or Arabic θiql ثِقْل "weight") perhaps attesting to its importance as a center for mercantile activities. Its name appeared in Phoenician and Punic as ŠQLN (𐤔𐤒𐤋𐤍) and ʾŠQLN (𐤀𐤔𐤒𐤋𐤍).[8] Scallion and shallot are derived from Ascalonia, the Latin name for Ashkelon.[9][10]


Beginning in the 1700s the site was visited, and occasionally drawn, by a number of adventurers and tourists. It was also often scavenged for building materials. The first known excavation occurred in 1815. The Lady Hester Stanhope dug there for two weeks using 150 workers. No real records were kept.[11] In the 1800s some classical pieces from Askelon (though long thought to be from Thessaloniki) were sent to the Ottoman Museum.[12] From 1920 to 1922 John Garstang and W. J. Phythian-Adams excavated on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund. They focused on two areas, one Roman and the other Philistine/Canaanite.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20] In the years following, a number of salvage excavations were done by the Israel Antiquities Authority.[21]

Modern excavation began in 1985 with the Leon Levy Expedition. Between then and 2006 seventeen seasons of work occurred, led by Lawrence Stager of Harvard University.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28] In 2007 the next phase of excavation began under Daniel Master. It continued until 2016.

In the 1997 season a cuneiform table fragment was found, being a lexical list containing both Sumerian and Canaanite language columns. It was found in a Late Bronze Age II context, about 13th century BC.[29]

In 2012 an Iron Age IIA Philistine cemetery was discovered outside the city. In 2013 200 graves were excavated of the estimated 1,200 the cemetery contained. Seven were stone built tombs.[30]

One ostracon and 18 jar handles were recovered inscribed with the Cypro-Minoan script. The ostracon was of local material and dated to 12th to 11th century BC. Five of the jar handles were manufactured in coastal Lebanon, two in Cyprus, and one locally. Fifteen of the handles were found in an Iron I context and the rest in Late Bronze Age context.[31]


Ashkelon was the oldest and largest seaport in Canaan, part of the pentapolis (a grouping of five cities) of the Philistines, north of Gaza and south of Jaffa.

Neolithic period

Archaeological site with artifacts from the Neolithic era

The Neolithic site of Ashkelon is located on the Mediterranean coast, 1.5 kilometres (1 mi) north of Tel Ashkelon. It is dated by Radiocarbon dating to c. 7900 bp (uncalibrated), to the poorly known Pre-Pottery Neolithic C phase of the Neolithic. It was discovered and excavated in 1954 by French archaeologist Jean Perrot. In 1997–1998, a large scale salvage project was conducted at the site by Yosef Garfinkel on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and nearly 1,000 m2 (11,000 sq ft) were examined. A final excavation report was published in 2008.

In the site over a hundred fireplaces and hearths were found and numerous pits, but no solid architecture, except for one wall. Various phases of occupation were found, one atop the other, with sterile layers of sea sand between them. This indicates that the site was occupied on a seasonal basis.

Ashkelon Pre-Pottery Neolithic C flint arrowheads

The main finds were enormous quantities of around 100,000 animal bones and around 20,000 flint artifacts. Usually at Neolithic sites flints far outnumber animal bones. The bones belong to domesticated and non-domesticated animals. When all aspects of this site are taken into account, it appears to have been used by pastoral nomads for meat processing. The nearby sea could supply salt necessary for the conservation of meat.

Canaanite settlement

Restored Canaanite city gate of Ashkelon[32] (2014)
Ashqelon as mentioned on Merneptah Stele: it reads <jsq3rwny> /'Asqaluni/ (with two determinatives)

The city was originally built on a sandstone outcropping and has a good underground water supply. It was relatively large as an ancient city with as many as 15,000 people living inside the walls. Ashkelon was a thriving Middle Bronze Age (2000–1550 BCE) city of more than 60 hectares (150 acres). Its commanding ramparts measured 2.5 kilometres (1+12 mi) long, 15 m (50 ft) high and 45 m (150 ft) thick,[citation needed] and even as a ruin they stand two stories high. The thickness of the walls was so great that the mudbrick city gate had a stone-lined, 2.4-metre-wide (8 ft) tunnel-like barrel vault, coated with white plaster, to support the superstructure: it is the oldest such vault ever found.[32] Later Roman and Islamic fortifications, faced with stone, followed the same footprint, a vast semicircle protecting Ashkelon on the land side. On the sea it was defended by a high natural bluff. A roadway more than six metres (20 ft) in width ascended the rampart from the harbor and entered a gate at the top.

In 1991 the ruins of a small ceramic tabernacle was found a finely cast bronze statuette of a bull calf, originally silvered, ten centimetres (4 in) long. Images of calves and bulls were associated with the worship of the Canaanite gods El and Baal.

Beginning in the time of Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC) the city was under Egyptian control, under a local governor. In the Merneptah Stele that Pharaoh (1213–1203 BC) notes putting down a rebellion in the city.[33] Ashkelon is mentioned in the Egyptian Execration Texts of the 11th dynasty as "Asqanu."[34] In the Amarna letters (c. 1350 BC), there are seven letters to and from Ashkelon's (Ašqaluna) king Yidya, and the Egyptian pharaoh. One letter from the pharaoh to Yidya was discovered in the early 1900s.

Philistine settlement

The Philistines conquered Canaanite Ashkelon about 1150 BCE. Their earliest pottery, types of structures and inscriptions are similar to the early Greek urbanised centre at Mycenae in mainland Greece, adding weight to the hypothesis that the Philistines were one of the populations among the "Sea Peoples" that upset cultures throughout the eastern Mediterranean at that time.

Ashkelon became one of the five Philistine cities that were constantly warring with the Israelites and later the United Kingdom of Israel and successive Kingdom of Judah. According to Herodotus, its temple of Venus was the oldest of its kind, imitated even in Cyprus, and he mentions that this temple was pillaged by marauding Scythians during the time of their sway over the Medes (653–625 BCE). As it was the last of the Philistine cities to hold out against Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. When it fell in 604 BCE, burnt and destroyed and its people taken into exile, the Philistine era was over.[citation needed]

Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods

Ancient sarcophagus in Ashkelon

Ashkelon was soon rebuilt. Until the conquest of Alexander the Great, Ashkelon's inhabitants were influenced by the dominant Persian culture. It is in this archaeological layer that excavations have found dog burials. It is believed the dogs may have had a sacred role; however, evidence is not conclusive. After the conquest of Alexander in the 4th century BCE, Ashkelon was an important free city and Hellenistic seaport.

It had mostly friendly relations with the Hasmonean kingdom and Herodian kingdom of Judea, in the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE. In a significant case of an early witch-hunt, during the reign of the Hasmonean queen Salome Alexandra, the court of Simeon ben Shetach sentenced to death eighty women in Ashkelon who had been charged with sorcery.[35] Herod the Great, who became a client king of Rome over Judea and its environs in 30 BCE, had not received Ashkelon, yet he built monumental buildings there: bath houses, elaborate fountains and large colonnades.[36][37] A discredited tradition suggests Ashkelon was his birthplace.[38] In 6 CE, when a Roman imperial province was set in Judea, overseen by a lower-rank governor, Ashkelon was moved directly to the higher jurisdiction of the governor of Syria province.

The city remained loyal to Rome during the Great Revolt, 66–70 CE.

Byzantine period

The city of Ascalon appears on a fragment of the 6th-century Madaba Map.[39]

The bishops of Ascalon whose names are known include Sabinus, who was at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, and his immediate successor, Epiphanius. Auxentius took part in the First Council of Constantinople in 381, Jobinus in a synod held in Lydda in 415, Leontius in both the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Bishop Dionysius, who represented Ascalon at a synod in Jerusalem in 536, was on another occasion called upon to pronounce on the validity of a baptism with sand in waterless desert and sent the person to be baptized in water.[40][41]

No longer a residential bishopric, Ascalon is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[42]

Early Islamic period

Ashkelon mosque

During the Muslim conquest of Palestine begun in c. 633–634, Ascalon (called Asqalan by the Arabs) became one of the last Byzantine cities in the region to fall.[43] It may have been temporarily occupied by Amr ibn al-As, but definitively surrendered to Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan (who later founded the Umayyad Caliphate) not long after he captured the Byzantine district capital of Caesarea in c. 640.[43] The Byzantines reoccupied Asqalan during the Second Muslim Civil War (680–692), but the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705) recaptured and fortified it.[43] A son of Caliph Sulayman (r. 715–717), whose family resided in Palestine, was buried in the city.[44] An inscription found in the city indicates that the Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi ordered the construction of a mosque with a minaret in Asqalan in 772.[43]

Asqalan prospered under the Fatimid Caliphate and contained a mint and secondary naval base.[43] Along with a few other coastal towns in Palestine, it remained in Fatimid hands when most of Islamic Syria was conquered by the Seljuks.[43] However, during this period, Fatimid rule over Asqalan was periodically reduced to nominal authority over the city's governor.[43] In 1091, a couple of years after a campaign by grand vizier Badr al-Jamali to reestablish Fatimid control over the region, the head of Husayn ibn Ali (a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) was "rediscovered", prompting Badr to order the construction of a new mosque and mashhad (shrine or mausoleum) to hold the relic.[45][46][47] (According to another source, the shrine was built in 1098 by the Fatimid vizier al-Afdal Shahanshah.[48][verification needed]) The mausoleum was described as the most magnificent building in Ashkelon.[49] In the British Mandate period it was a "large maqam on top of a hill" with no tomb, but a fragment of a pillar showing the place where the head had been buried.[50] In July 1950, the shrine was destroyed at the instructions of Moshe Dayan in accordance with a 1950s Israeli policy of erasing Muslim historical sites within Israel.[51] Around 2000, a modest marble mosque was constructed on the site by Mohammed Burhanuddin, an Indian Islamic leader of the Dawoodi Bohras.[52]

Crusaders, Ayyubids, and Mamluks

Battle of Ascalon, 1099. Engraving after Gustave Doré
Dawoodi Bohra pilgrims at the newly constructed Maqam al-Husayn, August 2019

During the Crusades, Asqalan (known to the Crusaders as Ascalon) was an important city due to its location near the coast and between the Crusader States and Egypt. In 1099, shortly after the Siege of Jerusalem, a Fatimid army that had been sent to relieve Jerusalem was defeated by a Crusader force at the Battle of Ascalon. The city itself was not captured by the Crusaders because of internal disputes among their leaders. This battle is widely considered to have signified the end of the First Crusade.[citation needed] As a result of military reinforcements from Egypt and a large influx of refugees from areas conquered by the Crusaders, Asqalan became a major Fatimid frontier post.[48] The Fatimids utilized it to launch raids into the Kingdom of Jerusalem.[53] Trade ultimately resumed between Asqalan and Crusader-controlled Jerusalem, though the inhabitants of Asqalan regularly struggled with shortages in food and supplies, necessitating the provision of goods and relief troops to the city from Egypt on several occasions each year.[48] According to William of Tyre, the entire civilian population of the city was included in the Fatimid army registers.[48] The Crusaders' capture of the port city of Tyre in 1134 and their construction of a ring of fortresses around the city to neutralize its threat to Jerusalem strategically weakened Asqalan.[48] In 1150 the Fatimids fortified the city with fifty-three towers, as it was their most important frontier fortress.[54] Three years later, after a seven-month siege, the city was captured by a Crusader army led by King Baldwin III of Jerusalem.[48] The Fatimids secured the head of Husayn from its mausoleum in the city and transported it to their capital Cairo.[48] Ascalon was then added to the County of Jaffa to form the County of Jaffa and Ascalon, which became one of the four major seigneuries of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

After the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem the six elders of the Karaite Jewish community in Ashkelon contributed to the ransoming of captured Jews and holy relics from Jerusalem's new rulers. The Letter of the Karaite elders of Ascalon, which was sent to the Jewish elders of Alexandria, describes their participation in the ransom effort and the ordeals suffered by many of the freed captives. A few hundred Jews, Karaites and Rabbanites, were living in Ashkelon in the second half of the 12th century, but moved to Jerusalem when the city was destroyed in 1191.[55]

In 1187, Saladin took Ashkelon as part of his conquest of the Crusader States following the Battle of Hattin. In 1191, during the Third Crusade, Saladin demolished the city because of its potential strategic importance to the Christians, but the leader of the Crusade, King Richard I of England, constructed a citadel upon the ruins. Ashkelon subsequently remained part of the diminished territories of Outremer throughout most of the 13th century and Richard, Earl of Cornwall reconstructed and refortified the citadel during 1240–41, as part of the Crusader policy of improving the defences of coastal sites. The Egyptians retook Ashkelon in 1247 during As-Salih Ayyub's conflict with the Crusader States and the city was returned to Muslim rule. The Mamluk dynasty came into power in Egypt in 1250 and the ancient and medieval history of Ashkelon was brought to an end in 1270, when the Mamluk sultan Baybars ordered the citadel and harbour at the site to be destroyed. As a result of this destruction, the site was abandoned by its inhabitants and fell into disuse.

Ottoman period

Images from the 1871-77 PEF Survey of Palestine


The Palestinian village of Al-Jura (El-Jurah) stood northeast of and immediately adjacent to Tel Ashkelon and is documented in Ottoman tax registers.


The Arab village of Majdal was mentioned by historians and tourists at the end of the 15th century.[56] In 1596, Ottoman records showed Majdal to be a large village of 559 Muslim households, making it the 7th-most-populous locality in Palestine after Safad, Jerusalem, Gaza, Nablus, Hebron and Kafr Kanna.[57][58]

An official Ottoman village list of about 1870 showed that Medschdel had a total of 420 houses and a population of 1175, though the population count included men only.[59][60]

Mandatory Palestine

Ashkelon 2020 street map overlaid on Survey of Palestine map from 1942.png
Ashkelon area in the Survey of Palestine maps.png
Ashkelon street map (date 2018, white text and light grey streets) overlaid on a Survey of Palestine map (date 1942, black text, red urban areas and black streets), showing the relative locations of Al Majdal, Hamama, Al-Jura, Al-Khisas and Ni'ilya


El-Jurah was depopulated during the 1948 war.


Weavers in Majdal, 1934–39

In the 1922 census of Palestine, Majdal had a population of 5,064; 33 Christians and 5,031 Muslims,[61] increasing in the 1931 census to 6,166 Muslims and 41 Christians.[62]

In the 1945 statistics Majdal had a population of 9,910; ninety Christians and 9,820 Muslims,[63] with a total (urban and rural) of 43,680 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey. Two thousand two hundred and fifty dunes were public land; all the rest was owned by Arabs.[64] of the dunams, 2,337 were used for citrus and bananas, 2,886 were plantations and irrigable land, 35,442 for cereals,[65] while 1,346 were built-up land.[66]

Majdal was especially known for its weaving industry.[citation needed] The town had around 500 looms in 1909. In 1920 a British Government report estimated that there were 550 cotton looms in the town with an annual output worth 30–40 million francs.[67] But the industry suffered from imports from Europe and by 1927 only 119 weaving establishments remained. The three major fabrics produced were "malak" (silk), 'ikhdari' (bands of red and green) and 'jiljileh' (dark red bands). These were used for festival dresses throughout Southern Palestine. Many other fabrics were produced, some with poetic names such as ji'nneh u nar ("heaven and hell"), nasheq rohoh ("breath of the soul") and abu mitayn ("father of two hundred").[68]


High-rise residential development along the beach
Ashkelon Marina

During the 1948 war, the Egyptian army occupied a large part of the Gaza region including Majdal. Over the next few months, the town was subjected to Israeli air-raids and shelling.[5] All but about 1,000 of the town's residents were forced to leave by the time it was captured by Israeli forces as a sequel to Operation Yoav on 4 November 1948.[5] General Yigal Allon ordered the expulsion of the remaining Palestinians but the local commanders did not do so and the Arab population soon recovered to more than 2,500 due mostly to refugees slipping back and also due to the transfer of Palestinians from nearby villages.[5][56] Most of them were elderly, women, or children.[56] During the next year or so, the Palestinians were held in a confined area surrounded by barbed wire, which became commonly known as the "ghetto".[7][56][69] Moshe Dayan and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion were in favor of expulsion, while Mapam and the Israeli labor union Histadrut objected.[5] The government offered the Palestinians positive inducements to leave, including a favorable currency exchange, but also caused panic through night-time raids.[5] The first group was deported to the Gaza Strip by truck on 17 August 1950 after an expulsion order had been served.[70] The deportation was approved by Ben-Gurion and Dayan over the objections of Pinhas Lavon, secretary-general of the Histadrut, who envisioned the town as a productive example of equal opportunity.[71] By October 1950, twenty Palestinian families remained, most of whom later moved to Lydda or Gaza.[5] According to Israeli records, in total 2,333 Palestinians were transferred to the Gaza Strip, 60 to Jordan, 302 to other towns in Israel, and a small number remained in Ashkelon.[56] Lavon argued that this operation dissipated "the last shred of trust the Arabs had in Israel, the sincerity of the State's declarations on democracy and civil equality, and the last remnant of confidence the Arab workers had in the Histadrut."[71] Acting on an Egyptian complaint, the Egyptian-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission ruled that the Palestinians transferred from Majdal should be returned to Israel, but this was not done.[72]

Ashkelon was formally granted to Israel in the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Re-population of the recently vacated Arab dwellings by Jews had been official policy since at least December 1948, but the process began slowly.[7] The Israeli national plan of June 1949 designated al-Majdal as the site for a regional urban center of 20,000 people.[7] From July 1949, new immigrants and demobilized soldiers moved to the new town, increasing the Jewish population to 2,500 within six months.[7] These early immigrants were mostly from Yemen, North Africa, and Europe.[73] During 1949, the town was renamed Migdal Gaza, and then Migdal Gad. Soon afterwards it became Migdal Ashkelon. The city began to expand as the population grew. In 1951, the neighborhood of Afridar was established for Jewish immigrants from South Africa,[74] and in 1953 it was incorporated into the city. The current name Ashkelon was adopted and the town was granted local council status in 1953. In 1955, Ashkelon had more than 16,000 residents. By 1961, Ashkelon ranked 18th among Israeli urban centers with a population of 24,000.[7] This grew to 43,000 in 1972 and 53,000 in 1983. In 2005, the population was more than 106,000.

On 1–2 March 2008, rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip (some of them Grad rockets) hit Ashkelon, wounding seven, and causing property damage. Mayor Roni Mahatzri stated that "This is a state of war, I know no other definition for it. If it lasts a week or two, we can handle that, but we have no intention of allowing this to become part of our daily routine."[75] In March 2008, 230 buildings and 30 cars were damaged by rocket fire on Ashkelon.[76] On 12 May 2008, a rocket fired from the northern Gazan city of Beit Lahiya hit a shopping mall in southern Ashkelon, causing significant structural damage. According to The Jerusalem Post, four people were seriously injured and 87 were treated for shock. Fifteen people suffered minor to moderate injuries as a result of the collapsed structure. Southern District Police chief Uri Bar-Lev believed the Grad-model Katyusha rocket was manufactured in Iran.[77]

In March 2009, a Qassam rocket hit a school, destroying classrooms and injuring two people.[78]

In November 2014, the mayor, Itamar Shimoni, began a policy of discrimination against Arab workers, refusing to allow them to work on city projects to build bomb shelters for children. His discriminatory actions brought criticism from others, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat who likened the discrimination to the anti-Semitism experienced by Jews in Europe 70 years earlier.[79][80]

On May 11, 2021, Hamas fired 137 rockets on Ashkelon[81][82] killing 2 and injuring many others.[83]

Ashkelon is located in the 20–30 seconds' run to safety area due to grad rocket range
Panorama of modern Ashkelon

Urban development

Holiday Inn and 13th-century tomb of Sheikh Awad

In 1949 and 1950, three immigrant transit camps (ma'abarot) were established alongside Majdal (renamed Migdal) for Jewish refugees from Arab countries, Romania and Poland. Northwest of Migdal and the immigrant camps, on the lands of the depopulated Palestinian village al-Jura,[84] entrepreneur Zvi Segal, one of the signatories of Israel's Declaration of Independence, established the upscale Barnea neighborhood.[85]

A large tract of land south of Barnea was handed over to the trusteeship of the South African Zionist Federation, which established the neighborhood of Afridar. Plans for the city were drawn up in South Africa according to the garden city model. Migdal was surrounded by a broad ring of orchards. Barnea developed slowly, but Afridar grew rapidly. The first homes, built in 1951, were inhabited by new Jewish immigrants from South Africa and South America, with some native-born Israelis. The first public housing project for residents of the transit camps, the Southern Hills Project (Hageva'ot Hadromiyot) or Zion Hill (Givat Zion), was built in 1952.[85]

Under a plan signed in October 2015, seven new neighborhoods comprising 32,000 housing units, a new stretch of highway, and three new highway interchanges will be built, turning Ashkelon into the sixth-largest city in Israel.[86]


Ashkelon is the northern terminus for the Trans-Israel pipeline, which brings petroleum products from Eilat to an oil terminal at the port. The Ashkelon seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant is the largest in the world.[87][88] The project was developed as a BOT (build–operate–transfer) by a consortium of three international companies: Veolia water, IDE Technologies and Elran.[89] In March 2006, it was voted "Desalination Plant of the Year" in the Global Water Awards.[90]

Since 1992, Israel Beer Breweries has been operating in Ashkelon, brewing Carlsberg and Tuborg beer for the Israeli market. The brewery is owned by the Central Bottling Company, which has also held the Israeli franchise for Coca-Cola products since 1968.[91]

Arak Ashkelon, a local brand of arak, is operating since 1925 and distributed throughout Israel.


The city has 19 elementary schools, and nine junior high and high schools. The Ashkelon Academic College opened in 1998, and now hosts thousands of students. Harvard University operates an archaeological summer school program in Ashkelon.[92]


Ashkelon National Park

The ancient site of Ashkelon is now a national park on the city's southern coast. The walls that encircled the city are still visible, as well as Canaanite earth ramparts. The park contains Byzantine, Crusader and Roman ruins.[93] The largest dog cemetery in the ancient world was discovered in Ashkelon.[94]

Bath Houses

In 1986 ruins of 4th- to 6th-century baths were found in Ashkelon. The bath houses are believed to have been used for prostitution. The remains of nearly 100 mostly male infants were found in a sewer under the bathhouse, leading to conjectures that prostitutes had discarded their unwanted newborns there.[95]

Religious sites

Places of worship

The remains of a 4th-century Byzantine church with marble slab flooring and glass mosaic walls can be seen in the Barnea Quarter.[96] Remains of a synagogue from this period have also been found.[97]

Maqam al-Imam al-Husayn

Muslims at Mejdal, April 1943, with Maqam al-Imam al-Husayn in the background.

An 11th-century mosque, Maqam al-Imam al-Husayn, a site of pilgrimage for both Sunnis and Shiites,[52]: 185–186 [98][99] which had been built under the Fatimids by Badr al-Jamali and where tradition held that the head of Mohammad's grandson Hussein ibn Ali was buried, was blown up by the IDF under instructions from Moshe Dayan as part of a broader programme to destroy mosques in July 1950.[100][51][101] The area was subsequently redeveloped for a local Israeli hospital, Barzilai. After the site was re-identified on the hospital grounds, funds from Mohammed Burhanuddin, leader of a Shi'a Ismaili sect based in India, were used to construct a marble mosque, which is visited by Shi'ite pilgrims from India and Pakistan.[52][99][51][102]


A domed structure housing the 13th-century tomb of Sheikh Awad sits atop a hill overlooking Ashkelon's northern beaches.[103]

A Roman burial tomb two kilometres north of Ashkelon Park was discovered in 1937. There are two burial tombs, a painted Hellenistic cave and a Roman cave. The Hellenistic cave is decorated with paintings of nymphs, water scenes, mythological figures and animals.[96]


Ashkelon marina breakwater

Ashkelon Khan and Museum contains archaeological finds, among them a replica of Ashkelon's Canaanite silver calf, whose discovery was reported on the front page of The New York Times.[96]

The Outdoor Museum near the municipal cultural center displays two Roman burial coffins made of marble depicting battle and hunting scenes, and famous mythological scenes.[96]


The Ashkelon Marina, located between Delila and Bar Kochba beaches, offers a shipyard and repair services. Ashkeluna is a water-slide park on Ashkelon beach.[96]

Health care

Ashkelon and environs is served by the Barzilai Medical Center, established in 1961.[102] It was built in place of Hussein ibn Ali's 11th-century mosque, a center of Muslim pilgrimages, destroyed by the Israeli army in 1950.[104] Situated ten kilometres (6 mi) from Gaza, the hospital has been the target of numerous Qassam rocket attacks, sometimes as many as 140 over one weekend. The hospital plays a vital role in treating wounded soldiers and terror victims.[105] A new rocket and missile-proof emergency room is under construction.


Historical population
  • [106]

In the early years, the city was primarily settled by Mizrahi Jews, who fled to Israel after being expelled from Muslim lands. Today, Mizrahi Jews still constitute the majority of the population. In the early 1950s, many South African Jews settled in Ashkelon, establishing the Afridar neighbourhood. They were followed by an influx of immigrants from the United Kingdom.[107] During the 1990s, the city received additional arrivals of Ethiopian Jews and Russian Jews.

Culture and sports

Ashkelon arena

The Ashkelon Sports Arena opened in 1999. The "Jewish Eye" is a Jewish world film festival that takes place annually in Ashkelon. The festival marked its seventh year in 2010.[108] The Breeza Music Festival has been held yearly in and around Ashkelon's amphitheatre since 1992. Most of the musical performances are free. Israel Lacrosse operates substantial youth lacrosse programs in the city and recently hosted the Turkey men's national team in Israel's first home international in 2013.[109]

Im schwarzen Walfisch zu Askalon ("In Ashkelon's Black Whale inn") is a traditional German academic commercium song that describes a drinking binge staged in the ancient city.[110]


Twin towns – sister cities

Ashkelon is twinned with:

Notable people

See also



  1. ^ a b "Population in the Localities 2019" (XLS). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  2. ^ Huehnergard, John (2018). "The Name Ashkelon". Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies. 33: 91–97. JSTOR 26751887.
  3. ^ Masalha, Nur (2012). The Palestine Nakba: Decolonising History, Narrating the Subaltern, Reclaiming Memory. London: Zed Books, Limited. pp. 115–116. ISBN 978-1848139701.
  4. ^ Morris, Benny (1 October 2008). 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. Yale University Press. p. 331. ISBN 978-0300145243 – via
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h B. Morris, The transfer of Al Majdal's remaining Palestinians to Gaza, 1950, in 1948 and After; Israel and the Palestinians.
  6. ^ Kimmerling, Baruch; S Migdal, Joel (2003). "Reconstituting Palestinian Nation". The Palestinian People: A History. United States of America: Harvard University Press. p. 172. ISBN 9780674039599 – via
  7. ^ a b c d e f Golan, Arnon (2003). "Jewish Settlement of Former Arab Towns and their Incorporation into the Israeli Urban System (1948–1950)". Israel Affairs. 9 (1–2): 149–164. doi:10.1080/714003467. S2CID 144137499.
  8. ^ Huss (1985), p. 560.
  9. ^ "shallot". New Oxford American Dictionary (Second ed.). Oxford University Press. 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-517077-1.
  10. ^ shallot. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  11. ^ Charles L. Meryon, Travels of Lady Hester Stanhope. 3 vols. London: Henry Colburn, 1846
  12. ^ Edhem Eldem. "Early Ottoman Archaeology: Rediscovering the Finds of Ascalon (Ashkelon), 1847." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 378, 2017, pp. 25–53,
  13. ^ John Garstang, "The Fund's Excavation of Askalon", PEFQS, vol. 53, pp. 12–16, 1921
  14. ^ John Garstang, "The Fund's Excavation of Askalon, 1920-1921", PEFQS, vol. 53, pp. 73–75, 1921
  15. ^ John Garstang, "Askalon Reports: The Philistine Problem", PEFQS, vol. 53, pp. 162–63, 1921
  16. ^ John Garstang, "The Excavations at Askalon", PEFQS, vol. 54, pp. 112–19, 1922
  17. ^ John Garstang, "Askalon", PEFQS, vol. 56, pp. 24–35, 1924
  18. ^ W. J. Phythian-Adams, "History of Askalon", PEFQS, vol. 53, pp. 76–90, 1921
  19. ^ W. J. Phythian-Adams, "Askalon Reports: Stratigraphical Sections", PEFQS, vol. 53, pp. 163–69, 1921
  20. ^ W. J. Phythian-Adams, "Report on the Stratification of Askalon", PEFQS, vol. 55, pp. 60–84, 1923
  21. ^ [1] Yaakov Huster, Daniel M. Master, and Michael D. Press, "Ashkelon 5 The Land behind Ashkelon", Eisenbrauns, 2015 ISBN 978-1-57506-952-4
  22. ^ [2] Daniel M. Master, J. David Schloen, and Lawrence E. Stager, "Ashkelon 1 Introduction and Overview (1985-2006)", Eisenbrauns, 2008 ISBN 978-1-57506-929-6
  23. ^ [3] Barbara L. Johnson, "Ashkelon 2 Imported Pottery of the Roman and Late Roman Periods", Eisenbrauns, 2008 ISBN 978-1-57506-930-2
  24. ^ [4] Daniel M. Master, J. David Schloen, and Lawrence E. Stager, "Ashkelon 3 The Seventh Century B.C.", Eisenbrauns, 2011 ISBN 978-1-57506-939-5
  25. ^ [5] Michael D. Press, "Ashkelon 4 The Iron Age Figurines of Ashkelon and Philistia", Eisenbrauns, 2012 ISBN 978-1-57506-942-5
  26. ^ Lawrence E. Stager, J. David Schloen, and Ross J. Voss, "Ashkelon 6 The Middle Bronze Age Ramparts and Gates of the North Slope and Later Fortifications", Eisenbrauns, 2018 ISBN 978-1-57506-980-7
  27. ^ Lawrence E. Stager, Daniel M. Master, and Adam J. Aja, "Ashkelon 7 The Iron Age I", Eisenbrauns, 2020 ISBN 978-1-64602-090-4
  28. ^ Tracy Hoffman, "Ashkelon 8 The Islamic and Crusader Periods", Eisenbrauns, 2019 ISBN 978-1-57506-735-3
  29. ^ Huehnergard, John, and Wilfred van Soldt. "A Cuneiform Lexical Text from Ashkelon with a Canaanite Column." Israel Exploration Journal, vol. 49, no. 3/4, 1999, pp. 184–92
  30. ^ Daniel M. Master, and Adam J. Aja. "The Philistine Cemetery of Ashkelon." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 377, 2017, pp. 135–59,
  31. ^ Cross, Frank Moore, and Lawrence E. Stager. "Cypro-Minoan Inscriptions Found in Ashkelon." Israel Exploration Journal, vol. 56, no. 2, 2006, pp. 129–159
  32. ^ a b Lefkovits, Etgar (8 April 2008). "Oldest arched gate in the world restored". The Jerusalem Post. Jerusalem. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
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  34. ^ "Ashkelon, Jewish Virtual Library". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  35. ^ Yerushalmi Sanhedrin, 6:6.
  36. ^ "Ashkelon". Project on Ancient Cultural Engagement/Brill. Archived from the original on 4 September 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
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  39. ^ Donner, Herbert (1992). The Mosaic Map of Madaba. Kok Pharos Publishing House. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-90-3900011-3. quoted in The Madaba Mosaic Map: Ascalon
  40. ^ Bagatti, Ancient Christian Villages of Judaea and Negev, quoted in The Madaba Mosaic Map: Ascalon
  41. ^ Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Leipzig 1931, p. 452
  42. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 840
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  44. ^ Lecker 1989, p. 35, note 109.
  45. ^ Brett, Michael (2017). The Fatimid Empire. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9781474421522.
  46. ^ Talmon-Heller, Daniella (2020). "Part I: A Sacred Place: The Shrine of al-Husayn's Head". Sacred Place and Sacred Time in the Medieval Islamic Middle East: An Historical Perspective. University Press Scholarship Online. doi:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474460965.001.0001. ISBN 9781474460965. S2CID 240874864.
  47. ^ M. Bloom, Jonathan; S. Blair, Sheila, eds. (2009). "Shrine". The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195309911.
  48. ^ a b c d e f g Hartmann & Lewis 1960, p. 711.
  49. ^ Gil, Moshe (1997) [1983]. A History of Palestine, 634–1099. Translated by Ethel Broido. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 193–194. ISBN 0-521-59984-9.
  50. ^ Canaan, 1927, p. 151
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  52. ^ a b c Talmon-Heller, Daniella; Kedar, Benjamin; Reiter, Yitzhak (January 2016). "Vicissitudes of a Holy Place: Construction, Destruction and Commemoration of Mashhad Ḥusayn in Ascalon" (PDF). Der Islam. 93: 11–13, 28–34. doi:10.1515/islam-2016-0008. Archived from the original on 12 May 2020.
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  54. ^ Gore, Rick (January 2001). "Ancient Ashkelon". National Geographic.
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  56. ^ a b c d e Orna Cohen (2007). "Transferred to Gaza of Their Own Accord" The Arabs of Majdal in Ashkelon and their Evacuation to the Gaza Strip in 1950. The Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  57. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 144
  58. ^ Petersen, Andrew (2005). The Towns of Palestine under Muslim Rule AD 600–1600. BAR International Series 1381. p. 133.
  59. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 157
  60. ^ Hartmann, 1883, p. 131, noted 655 houses
  61. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Gaza, p. 8
  62. ^ Palestine Office of Statistics, Vital Statistical Tables 1922–1945, Table A8.
  63. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 32
  64. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 46
  65. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 87
  66. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 137
  67. ^ "H.M. Stationery Office (1920) Syria and Palestine" — Viewer — World Digital Library".
  68. ^ Shelagh Weir, "Palestinian Costume". British Museum Publications, 1989. ISBN 978-0-7141-1597-9. pages 27–32. Other fabrics produced include Shash (white muslin for veils), Burk/Bayt al-shem (plain cotton for underdresses), Karnaish (white cotton with stripes), "Bazayl" (flannelette), Durzi (blue cotton) and Dendeki (red cotton).
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  73. ^ מגדל־גד בהתפתחותה,בחירות ב־26 בפברואר - דבר. (in Hebrew).
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  75. ^ "Israeli City Shocked As Rockets Hit". Associated Press. 3 March 2008.
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  88. ^ "Projects Archive". Water Technology. Archived from the original on 13 July 2015.
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  • Canaan, T. (1927). Mohammedan Saints and Sanctuaries in Palestine. London: Luzac & Co.
  • Garfinkel, Y.; Dag, D.; Hesse, B.; Wapnish, P.; Rookis, D.; Hartman, G.; Bar-Yosef, D.E.; Lernau, O. (2005). "Neolithic Ashkelon: Meat Processing and Early Pastoralism on the Mediterranean Coast". Eurasian Prehistory. 3: 43–72.
  • Garfinkel, Y.; Dag, D. (2008). Neolithic Ashkelon. Qedem 47. Jerusalem: Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University. OCLC 494272503.
  • Golan, Arnon (2003). "Jewish Settlement of Former Arab Towns and their Incorporation into the Israeli Urban System (1948–1950)". Israel Affairs. 9 (1–2): 149–164. doi:10.1080/714003467. S2CID 144137499.
  • Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics (1945). Village Statistics, April, 1945.
  • Hadawi, S. (1970). Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine. Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center. Archived from the original on 8 December 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
  • Hartmann, M. (1883). "Die Ortschaftenliste des Liwa Jerusalem in dem türkischen Staatskalender für Syrien auf das Jahr 1288 der Flucht (1871)". Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins. 6: 102–149.
  • Hartmann, R. & Lewis, B. (1960). "Askalan". In Gibb, H. A. R.; Kramers, J. H.; Lévi-Provençal, E.; Schacht, J.; Lewis, B. & Pellat, Ch. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume I: A–B. Leiden: E. J. Brill. pp. 710–711. OCLC 495469456.
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  • Kafkafi, Eyal (1998). "Segregation or Integration of the Israeli Arabs: Two Concepts in Mapai". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 30 (3): 347–367. doi:10.1017/S0020743800066216. S2CID 161862941.
  • Khalidi, W. (1992). All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies. ISBN 0-88728-224-5.
  • Lecker, Michael (1989). "The Estates of 'Amr b. al-'Āṣ in Palestine: Notes on a New Negev Arabic Inscription". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 52 (1): 24–37. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00023041. JSTOR 617911. S2CID 163092638.
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External links

  • Ashkelon City Council
  • "Ashkelon, ancient city of the sea", National Geographic, January 2001
  • Ancient Ashkelon—University of Chicago
  • English information on Ashkelon—Ashkelon Volunteers
  • Welcome To The City of al-Majdal Asqalan Information and images about the historical Palestinian city of Mijdal and what remains of it today, as Ashkelon's Migdal neighbourhood
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