MEVASSERET ZION (Heb. מְבַשֶּׂרֶת צִיּוֹן "Herald of Zion"), Israel urban settlement with municipal council status, 5 mi. (8 km.) W. of Jerusalem. The settlement's area extends over 2.2 sq. mi. (5.6 sq. km.). On a 2,600 ft. (799 m.) high hilltop the Romans erected a fortress, Castellum, to secure the road to Jerusalem. The Crusaders renewed it, calling it Castellum Belveer. This strategic spot became a small Arab village which preserved the ancient name (al-Qastal). During the Israel *War of Independence (1948), it changed hands in heavy battles, but finally (April 9) fell into Jewish hands. In 1951 the settlement Ma'oz Zion ("Stronghold of Zion") was established at the foot of Qastal Hill to house immigrants from Iraqi Kurdistan who worked in the nearby *Solel Boneh stone quarry, reactivated after the War of Independence. They developed fruit gardens and auxiliary farms. In 1956 a laborers' garden suburb, Mevasseret Yerushalayim, was established east of Ma'oz Zion, on a ridge close to the armistice lines of the time and north of *Moẓa. Its inhabitants found employment partly in the fruit orchards, in the Arazim Valley stretching south and east of Mevasseret Yerushalayim, and partly in Jerusalem. In 1963 Ma'oz Zion and Mevasseret Yerushalayim merged into one municipal unit, Mevasseret Zion, which in 1969 had 4,160 inhabitants. In the mid-1990s, the population was approximately 14,400, increasing to 20,800 in 2002. From 1978, 11 new neighborhoods were created there under the settlement's continual expansion. It attracts many Jerusalem residents, mainly secular, as an upscale location. It also has the largest immigrant absorption center in Israel, hosting 1,100 olim.

[Efraim Orni /

Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.