Lod (اَلْلُدّْ, al-Ludd; Greco-Latin Lydda) is a mixed Arab-Jewish city about 15 km southeast of Tel Aviv in the Center District of Israel. In 2007, its population was 67,200.
A historic city dating from the Greek and Roman eras, Lod is the home of Israel's main international airport, Ben Gurion International Airport, previously known as Lod Airport. The airport and related industries are a major source of employment for the residents of Lod. The Jewish Agency Absorption Centre, the main facility for handling olim arriving in Israel, is also located in Lod.
Lod is situated on the site of the ancient settlement of Lydda.
It appears on a list of Canaanite cities drawn up by Thutmose III
in the 2nd millennium BC
. According to the Bible, Lod was founded by Shemed, a member of the Tribe of Benjamin
. It was abandoned during the Babylonian captivity
and resettled upon the return of the Jews
from exile. In the Hellenistic period, it was outside the boundaries of Judea, but under the Maccabees, it became a Jewish town. In 43 CE, Cassius, the governor of Syria, sold its inhabitants into slavery. The Roman proconsul of Syria, Cestius Gallus, razed the town on his way to Jerusalem in 66 CE. It was occupied by Vespasian in 68 CE.
By the Byzantine era, the town was predominantly Christian. It was one of the legendary birthplace of St. George, patron saint of England, and was known as Georgiopolis. The shrine of St. George
was built there. In the New Testament, Lod is the site of Peter
's healing of a paralytic man in .
Captured by the Muslims in 636, Lod served as the headquarters of the province of Filastin. The capital later moved to Ramla
occupied Lod in 1099. It was briefly taken by Saladin
but retaken by the Crusaders in 1191
. For the English Crusaders
, such as King Richard the Lionheart
, Lod was a place of great significance, since it was believed to be the birthplace of England's patron saint
, Saint George
. The Crusaders made it the seat of a Latin
rite diocese, and it is still a titular see
. According to the Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela
, in 1170 there was only one Jewish family living in the town.
During the early Ottoman period, there were no Jews in Lod, but a small Jewish community developed in the 19th century. The Jewish inhabitants were driven out in the 1921 Arab riots. In 1944, Lydda had a population of 17,000, one-fifth of them Christian Arabs.
Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Lydda was included in the territory slated to became an Arab state.
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
captured Lydda in July 1948 in Operation Danny
. Arab inhabitants were expelled, along with those of the nearby town of Ramla
, numbering about 50,000 in all, in order to secure the strategically important road connecting Tel Aviv
. Israeli historian Benny Morris writes: "All the Israelis who witnessed the events agreed that the exodus, under a hot July sun, was an extended episode of suffering for the refugees, especially from Lydda...Some were stripped by soldiers of their valuables as they left town or at checkpoints along the way. Hundreds of civilians died in the scorching heat, from exhaustion, dehydration and disease.
In 1972, 28 passengers were gunned down at Ben Gurion International Airport by members of the Japanese Red Army
, who were acting on behalf of the PFLP
in what became known as the Lod Airport massacre
. The founder of PFLP, George Habash
, had been visiting Lod in July 1948 when the population was driven out by Israeli troops.
According to the CBS
, in 2001 the ethnic and religious makeup of the city was 80.3% Jewish
and other non-Arab, and 19.7% Arab
and 1.1% Christian
). There are 561 "olim", or new immigrants to Israel, included in these figures. See Population groups in Israel
According to CBS, in 2001 there were 32,400 males and 33,700 females. The population of the city was spread out with 36.7% 19 years of age or younger, 16.4% between 20 and 29, 19.2% between 30 and 44, 14.5% from 45 to 59, 3.7% from 60 to 64, and 9.5% 65 years of age or older. The population growth rate in 2001 was 1.7%.
According to CBS figures for 2000, there were 23,032 salaried workers and 1,405 self-employed. The mean monthly wage for a salaried worker was NIS
4,754, a real change of 2.9% over the course of 2000. Salaried men had a mean monthly wage of NIS 5,821 (a real change of 1.4%) versus NIS 3,547 for women (a real change of 4.6%). The mean income for the self-employed was NIS 4,991. There were 1,275 people receiving unemployment benefits and 7,145 receiving an income supplement.
According to CBS, there are 38 schools and 13,188 pupils in the city. They are spread out as 26 elementary schools and 8,325 elementary school pupils, and 13 high schools and 4,863 high school pupils. 52.5% of 12th grade pupils were entitled to a matriculation certificate in 2001.
Plagued by a poor image for decades, projects are under way to improve services in Lod. New upscale neighborhoods are expanding the city to the east, among them Ganei Ya'ar and Ahisemah.
The city's major football club, Hapoel Bnei Lod
, currently plays in Liga Leumit
(the second division) and is based at the Lod Municipal Stadium
. The club was formed by a merger of Bnei Lod and Rakevet Lod in the 1980s. Two other clubs in the city play in the regional leagues; Hapoel MS Ortodoxim Lod in Liga Bet
and Maccabi Lod in Liga Gimel
Until the 2000s, Hapoel Lod, who played in the top division during the 1960s and 1980s, and won the State Cup in 1984, were they city's major club. However, after several relegations they folded in 2002. A new club, Hapoel Maxim Lod (named after former mayor Maxim Levy) was established soon after, but folded in 2007.