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Ness Ziona

Ness Ziona (Heb. נֵס צִיּוֹנָה; Banner toward Zion) is a semiurban settlement with municipal council status in central Israel, between Rishon le-Zion and Reḥovot. Ness Ziona was founded in 1883 in the Arab hamlet Wadi Ḥanīn on the initiative of a single Jewish immigrant from Russia, Reuben Lehrer.

A few more Jewish families joined the founder in the first years. The moshavah was given its present name in the 1890s when, for the first time in the country, the blue and white Jewish flag was raised at its anniversary celebration. In the first decade of the 20th century, citrus groves became prominent there and attracted both immigrants of the Second Aliyah and, in even greater numbers, Arab workers, some of whom settled there. Ness Ziona thus became the principal stage in the struggle for the conquest of labor. 

Until 1948, Ness Ziona was the only village in the country with a mixed Arab-Jewish population–the two communities living on opposite sides of the main road and, on the whole, coexisting peacefully.

In the War of Independence (1948), the Arabs abandoned the village, which had by then 1,800 Jewish inhabitants. After 1948, Ness Ziona quickly expanded and reached 9,500 inhabitants in 1953; its rate of growth, however, slowed down subsequently. There were 11,900 inhabitants in 1968, in a municipal area extending over 6 sq. mi. (16 sq. km.), of which nearly two-thirds were cultivated for farming.

Aside from the citrus branch, Ness Ziona was a beekeeping center, producing an annual average of 330,000 lb. (150,000 kg.) of honey. Industry was a prime factor in the local economy, employing workers in factories for building materials, electric appliances, fiberglass, rubber, metal, and foodstuffs. The Institute for Biological Research, a top-secret defense establishment employing 350 people, was also located there. By the mid-1990s the population had nearly doubled to 21,800, and in 2002 it was 25,800. In 1992, Ness Ziyona received city status.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.