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Geography of Israel: Kfar Saba

This city in the Sharon region, nine kilometers from Petah Tikvah saw its beginnings in 1892 when a group of Jerusalemites advertised via leaflets the sale of plots of land. The plots were located in what at the time was a desolate place, they were untended, shabby and far away from all other Jewish settlements. The land was finally purchased by Baron de Rothschild in 1896.

Kfar Saba is mentioned in the Talmud a number of times and was an important city during the Second Temple period. It is known that King Alexander Yannai built a network of fortifications stretching to coast, to ward off an invasion from the north. Ancient Kfar Saba is associated with Tel Khirbet Sabieh (near the Ge'ulim neighborhood). Findings at the Tel provide evidence of Roman, Byzantine and Arab occupation.

In 1903 the lands were sold to farmers from Petah Tikvah, for eight francs per dunam. The idea was that these lands would be geared for the children of Petah Tikvah's farmers. However, most of them ended up selling off most of the land, to new immigrants. Those who did settle in the area began planting vines, almond, eucalyptus and olive trees.

At the time, the Turkish authorities did not allow building of homes - so the first settlers who settled in 1905 had to live in makeshift dwellings made of mud and straw. In 1906 the first 'Chan' or hotel was built. The settlement's first permanent homes were built in 1913 and by 1915 the settlement had 18 houses.

Kfar Saba was a place of refuge during World War I for roughly a thousand residents of Jaffa and Tel Aviv who were expelled by the Turkish. These refugees had to live in stables, tents and endure many hardships.

In 1917-1918 the settlement found itself on the front-line fighting between the British and the Turkish and was destroyed as a result of the fighting. Before it had a chance to make a full recovery, it was once again destroyed (by Arabs), in the 1921 disturbances.

During 1924 the settlement saw an increase in the number of new settlers and for a while it was once again on its way to recovery. These settlers had means and began to develop the citrus industry in the area. By 1931 Kfar Saba boasted 1405 residents and 395 homes. During the 1936-1939 disturbances the settlement was again attacked a number of times by Arabs. In 1937 a municipal council was formed.

After World War II many new immigrants arrived and by the War of Independence Kfar Saba's population reached over 5,500. In 1962, the once rural settlement formally gained status as a city.

Today, Kafar Saba has a population of more than 80,000.

Sources: Copyright © 2002 Gems in Israel All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.