Jaffa يَافَا, ;(Yafo; also Japho, Joppa) is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world.
Archaeological evidence shows that Jaffa was inhabited some 7,500 years before the Common era (BCE).Jaffa's natural harbor has been in use since the Bronze Age. It is mentioned in an Ancient Egyptian letter from 1470 BCE, glorifying its conquest by Pharaoh Thutmose III, who hid armed warriors in large baskets and gave the baskets as a present to the Canaanite city's governor. The city is also mentioned in the Amarna letters under its Egyptian name Ya-Pho, ( Ya-Pu, EA 296, l.33). The city was under Egyptian rule until around 800 BCE.
Tel Yafo (Jaffa Hill) rises to a height of 40 meters (130 ft) and offers a commanding view of the coastline. Hence its strategic importance in military history. The accumulation of debris and landfill over the centuries made the hill even higher.
Jaffa is mentioned four times in the Bible, as one of the cities given to the Tribe of Dan (Book of Joshua 19:46), as port-of-entry for the cedars of Lebanon for Solomon's Temple (2 Chronicles 2:16), as the place whence the prophet Jonah embarked for Tarshish (Book of Jonah 1:3) and as port-of-entry for the cedars of Lebanon for the Second Temple of Jerusalem (Book of Ezra 3:7). It was also an important city in the Arab Middle East. During the Crusades, it was the County of Jaffa, a stronghold of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Jaffa is mentioned in the Book of Joshua as the territorial border of the Tribe of Dan, hence the term "Gush Dan", used today for the coastal plain. Many descendants of Dan lived along the coast and earned their living from shipmaking and sailing. In the "Song of Deborah" the prophetess asks: "דן למה יגור אוניות": "Why doth Dan dwell in ships?"
King David and his son King Solomon conquered Jaffa and used its port to bring the cedars used in the construction of the First Temple from Tyre. The city remained in Jewish hands even after the split of the Kingdom of Israel. In 701 BCE, in the days of King Hezekiah (חזקיהו), Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invaded the region from Jaffa.
Jaffa was a Seleucid port until it was taken over by the Maccabean rebels (1 Maccabees x.76, xiv.5). In the Roman suppression of the Jewish Revolt, Jaffa was captured and burned by Cestius Gallus. The Roman Jewish historian Josephus writes that 8,000 inhabitants were massacred. Pirates operating from the rebuilt port incurred the wrath of Vespasian, who razed the city and erected a citadel in its place, installing a Roman garrison there.
The New Testament account of St. Peter's resurrection of the widow Tabitha, (Dorcas) (Acts, ix, 36-42) takes place in Jaffa. St. Peter later had a vision in which God told him not to distinguish between Jews and Gentiles or between kosher and non-kosher (Acts, x, 10-16). This vision heralded a major ideological split between Judaism and Christianity. A painting in St. Peter's, a Roman Catholic church in Jaffa, depicts this event.
Jaffa was captured during the Crusades, and became the County of Jaffa and Ascalon, one of the vassals of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. One of its counts, John of Ibelin, wrote the principal book of the Assizes of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. During the period of the Crusades, the Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela (1170) sojourned at Jaffa, and found there just one Jew, a dyer by trade. Saladin conquered Jaffa in 1187. The city surrendered to King Richard the Lionheart on September 10, 1191, three days after the Battle of Arsuf. Despite efforts by Saladin to reoccupy the city in July 1192 (see Battle of Jaffa) the city remained in the hands of the Crusaders. On September 2, 1192, the Treaty of Jaffa was formally signed, guaranteeing a three-year truce between the two armies. In 1268, Jaffa was conquered by Egyptian Mamluks, led by Baibars. In the 14th century, the city was completely destroyed for fear of new crusades. According to the traveler Cotwyk, Jaffa was a heap of ruins at the end of the 16th century.
In the 19th century, Jaffa was best known for its soap industry. Modern industry emerged in the late 1880s. The most successful enterprises were metalworking factories, among them the machine shop run by the Templers that employed over 100 workers in 1910. Other factories produced orange-crates, barrels, corks, noodles, ice, seltzer, candy, soap, olive oil, leather, alkali, wine, cosmetics and ink.
From the 1880s, real estate became an important branch of the economy. Most of the newspapers and books printed in Palestine were published in Jaffa.
Jaffa's citrus industry began to flourish in the last quarter of the 19th century. Shamuti oranges were the major crop, but citrons, lemons and mandarin oranges were also grown.
Until the mid-19th century, Jaffa's orange groves were mainly owned by Arabs, who employed traditional methods of farming. The pioneers of modern agriculture in Jaffa were American settlers, who brought in farm machinery in the 1850s and 1860s, followed by the Templers and the Jews.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, the population of Jaffa had swelled considerably and new suburbs were built on the sand dunes along the coast. By 1909, the new Jewish suburbs north of Jaffa were reorganized as the city of Tel Aviv.
In 1917, the Ottomans banished all of Jaffa's residents as they feared the British army would occupy the city. The British did indeed occupy the city (see Sinai and Palestine Campaign), but let its residents return after a year.
During 1917–1920, there were thousands of Jewish residents in Jaffa. A wave of Arab pogrom attacks during 1920 and 1921 caused many Jewish residents to flee and resettle in Tel Aviv. The 1921 riots (known in Hebrew as Meoraot Tarpa) began with a May Day parade that turned violent. The Arab rioters attacked Jewish residents and buildings. The Hebrew author Yosef Haim Brenner was killed by Arabs in Jaffa.
At the end of 1922, Jaffa had 32,000 residents and Tel Aviv, 15,000. By 1927, the population of Tel Aviv was up to 38,000. The Jews of Jaffa lived on the outskirts of Jaffa, close to Tel Aviv, whereas the old city was predominantly Arab.
The 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, also known as the Great Arab uprising, inflicted great economic and infrastructural damage on Jaffa. On April 19, 1936, the Arab leadership of Palestine declared a general strike which paralyzed the economy. The strike began in the port of Jaffa, which had become a symbol of Arab resistance. . Military reinforcements were brought in from Malta and Egypt to subdue the rioting which spread throughout the country. Jaffa's old city, with its maze of homes, winding alleyways and underground sewer system, provided an ideal escape route for the rioters fleeing the British army. In May, municipal services were cut off, the old city was barricaded, and access roads were covered with glass shards and nails. In June, British bombers dropped boxes of leaflets in Arabic requesting the inhabitants to evacuate that same day. On the evening of June 17, 1936, 1,500 British soldiers entered Jaffa and a British warship sealed off escape routes by sea. The British Royal Engineers blew up homes from east to west, leaving an open strip that cut through the heart of the city from end to end. On June 29, security forces implemented another stage of the plan, carving a swath from north to south. The mandatory authorities claimed the operation was part of a "facelift" of the old city.
In 1945, Jaffa had a population of 101,580, of whom 53,930 were Muslims, 30,820 were Jews and 16,800 were Christians. The Christians were mostly Greek Orthodox and about one sixth of them were Greek-Catholic. One of the most prominent members of the Arab Christian community was the Arab Orthodox publisher of Filastin, Issa Daoud El-Issa Daoud Isa.
Before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the UN's Special Commission on Palestine in 1947 recommended that Jaffa become part of the planned Jewish state. Due to the large Arab majority, however, it was instead designated as an Arab enclave in the Jewish state in the 1947 UN Partition Plan.
The Arabs rejected the plan and on November 30, 1947, the day following the adoption of the UN resolution, seven Jews were killed by Arabs in Palestine in three separate incidents. At 8:00 in the morning, in what came to be seen as the opening shots of the 1948 War, three Arabs attacked a bus from Netanya to Jerusalem, killing five Jewish passengers. Half an hour later a second bus attack left a Jewish passenger dead. Later in the day, a twenty-five-year-old Jewish man was shot dead in Jaffa, where there were alleged attacks on Arabs by Jews. In Jerusalem, the Arab Higher Committee called a three-day general strike from Tuesday, December 2 to be followed by mass demonstrations after Friday prayers.
From the beginning of the strike onwards, Arab and Jewish clashes escalated and by December 11 the Jerusalem correspondent of The Times estimated that at least 130 people had died, "about 70 of them being Jews, 50 Arabs, and among the rest three British soldiers and one British policeman".
On April 25, 1948, Irgun launched an offensive on Jaffa, then the largest Arab city in Palestine, during which many of its Arab residents fled through the harbor. Haganah units took the city on May 14. Out of 70,000-80,000 Arabs, 3,600-4,100 remained, about 5%. Shortly after, impoverished Jewish families whom the war had left homeless settled in Jaffa.
In 1954, Jaffa became part of the municipality of Tel Aviv. Together, they are known as Tel Aviv-Yafo. Modern Jaffa has a heterogeneous population of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Parts of the Old City have been renovated, turning Jaffa into a tourist attraction featuring old restored buildings, art galleries, theaters, souvenir shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and promenades. Beyond the Old City and tourist sites, many neighborhoods of Jaffa are poor and underdeveloped. However, real-estate prices have risen sharply due to gentrification projects in al Ajami and Lev Yafo. The municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa is currently working to beautify and modernize the port area, and are expanding the boardwalk along the sea from Bat Yam to Tel Aviv. They are also constructing a light rail that will travel from Bat Yam to Petach Tikvah and throughout the Gush Dan territory.
The Tel Aviv municipality has been accused of trying to erase the city's Arab past. In the early 1950s, many Arabic street names were replaced by Hebrew names. From the 1990s onwards, however, efforts have been made to restore Arab and Islamic landmarks, such as the Mosque of the Sea and Hassan Bek Mosque, and document the history of Jaffa's Arab population.
The Clock Square with its distinctive clocktower was built in 1906 in honor of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The Seraya (governor's palace) was built in the 1890s. Mahmoudia Mosque was built in 1812 by Abu Nabbut, governor of Jaffa from 1810-1820. Outside the mosque is a water fountain (sabil) for pilgrims. St. Peter's Church is a Franciscan church and hospice built in the 19th century on the remains of a Crusaders fortress; Napoleon is believed to have stayed there. St. Michael's Church, restored in 1994, serves Romanian Christians. St. Tabitha chapel serves the Russian Christian community, with services in Russian and Hebrew. St. Peter's Church was built in 1895 on the site of St. Peter's resurrection of Tabitha. Inside the monastery is the site of the house where St. Tabitha lived with her family. Andromeda rock is the rock to which beautiful Andromeda was chained in Greek mythology. The Zodiac alleys are a maze of restored alleys leading to the harbor. Jaffa Hill is a center for archaeological finds, including restored Egyptian gates, about 3,500 years old. The Libyan Synagogue'(Beit Zunana) was a synagogue built by a Jewish landlord, Zunana, in the 18th century. It was turned into a hotel and then a soap factory, and reopened as a synagogue for Libyan Jewish immigrants after 1948. In 1995, it became a museum. Nouzha Mosque on Jerusalem Boulevard is Jaffa's main mosque today.