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Mi'ilya

MI'ILYA, Christian-Arab village in northern Israel, in western Upper Galilee, west of *Ma'alot. Mi'ilya constitutes an important center in Israel for the Greek-Catholic faith, to which almost all its inhabitants belong. Tobacco, deciduous fruit, vineyards, and olive groves, on land reclaimed from rocky slopes, formed the base of the village's economy. In 1957 Mi'ilya received municipal council status. In 1969 its population was 1,390, rising to 2,550 in 2002, on an area of 0.07 sq. mi. (1.8 sq. km.). According to archaeological evidence, Mi'ilya has been inhabited since the second millennium B.C.E. Although few remains from the earlier periods have been preserved, the crusader fortress built by German knights in the 13th century C.E. (Chasteau du Roi or Castrum Regis) has remained almost intact and still forms the village's nucleus. Another crusader fortress, Montfort (Burg Starkenberg), lies nearby in the Chezib River gorge.