YAVNEH, development town in central Israel, 5 mi. (8 km.). S.W. of Reḥovot. At the end of the 19th century the population of the Arab village Yibn, on the site of historical *Jabneh, increased due to the proximity of such Jewish settlements as *Gederah and *Reḥovot, which supplied opportunities for hired labor and constituted markets for farm products. Arab farmers added garden crops to their grain fields and later planted citrus groves. In 1943 the village had about 3,600 inhabitants and in 1947 about 4,000. During the *War of Independence *Haganah forces occupied Yibnā in May 1948, thereby halting the Egyptian army's advance against Jaffa and Tel Aviv. From the end of 1948 Jewish immigrants were housed in the abandoned village, and in 1949 a number of moshavim – Ben Zakkai, Bet Gamli'el and Benayah – were founded in the vicinity. Yavneh gradually became a semi-urban agglomeration and received municipal council status. In the first phase, small trade, hired labor in farming and industry, and some auxiliary farming formed a narrow economic base. Living standards were low, housing was often primitive, and social cases were numerous. With progressive industrialization, including the transfer of several enterprises from the Tel Aviv area to Yavneh, the town progressed economically, particularly in the 1960s. It contains leather, textiles, metals, and other industries. New housing quarters were built and social and educational standards improved. Its population increased from 1,600 in 1953 to over 10,100 in 1970. By the mid-1990s the population was 25,600, further rising to 31,700 in 2002 and occupying an area of 12 sq. mi. (30 sq. km.). Yavneh received city status in 1986. The main latter-day economic branches were industry, crafts, commerce, and services. A splendid *Mamluk building is traditionally held to house the tomb of R. *Simeon ben Gamaliel II, the Sanhedrin president at Jabneh.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.