Gedera was founded in 1884 by members of the Bilu group, near the ruins of a biblical Israelite city. Those ruins were thought to have been the ruins of a biblical city called HaGdera (The fenced city) or another biblical city called Gderot (fences), and therefore the name Gedera (Fenced city) was chosen.
Recent excavations in the Gedera area of Tel Qatra have revealed artifacts from the Middle Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age, and Iron Age. In addition, remains of a more recent Muslim cemetery have been found.
Up until the 1948 War of Independence Gedera was flanked by the Arab Muslim village of Kfar Qatra, which was situated directly next to the original Gedera homes. The majority of the residents of the villages were expelled during the war, never to return, and their locations have now been built over in the northern half of Gedera, primarily in the first 25 years after the War of Independence.
In the 1940s Idi Amin lived in Gedera for around a year as he received military training.
Geography and demographics
Gedera is built on 7 hills in the Shephelah, which rise to the height of 80 meters above sea level. It has an area of 14,500 dunams (14.5 km²) and a population of 13,600 (end of 2004 estimate). Gedera's Per Capita GDP as of a 2005 was 35,573 NIS, or 9,321 US Dollars. In its history it has always been a small village, not bordered by any other villages of considerable size, and it is also many miles away from the suburbs of Tel Aviv, allowing it to remain relatively small and rural, serving as one of the last stops for drivers entering the Negev Desert.
It is famous for its pastoral countryside view. Surrounded by green hills and agricultural lands, on the west it is possible to see all the way to the coastal city of Ashdod, and on the east there is a clear view of the Judean Mountains and Jerusalem Mountains, and due to the near proximity to the border, also into the West Bank.
Gedera is often considered to be the southern edge of central Israel, while Hadera is considered the northern edge, hence the Israeli expression "from Hadera to Gedera" to describe the most populated area in Israel.
Gedera has a very large population of Yemenite Jews that came before and during the founding of the nation around the time of the War of Independence. Most estimates put their population at 50% of Gedera, making it one of the few primarily Mizrahi (Arab Jews) towns in the center district of Israel.
Over the past 15 years, Ethiopian Jews have steadily moved to Gedera, now making up a 16% of the population. Their economic condition is improving, as the younger generation had adapted to Israeli culture and the language, whereas the older immigrants have not.
Recent expansion and development
Gedera's position near the large south-central cities of Israel (Rehovot, Ashdod and Kiryat Gat), low prices for private homes and the fact that it is a green and quiet town yet it is in the central district near Tel Aviv and Jerusalem make it very attractive to Israelis. Gedera is one of the faster-growing towns in Israel, with a 7.9% growth rate. Recently, major developments have taken place in one section, creating a housing development for well-to-do and middle class residents, simply called New Gedera.
This major development, funded and built by the Azorim company, is an agglomeration of new close-knit houses-filled neighborhoods and low-rise apartment buildings. The development has expanded inhabited Gedera by a large degree and added key services (banks, restaurants, shopping locations and a planned movie theatre). A major shopping venue built by Azorim is the Gedera Mall, located in the southeast of the town. First opened in September 2007, Gedera Mall has small businesses along with anchor tenants from semi-major department stores from Israel and Europe. Several restaurants are located within the building, along with a sports complex that is possible to expand in size depending on future needs. The mall's size is similar to most in satellite cities in Israel, containing approximately 15 stores of varying sizes. The mall has two floors, and covers half a city block in Gedera.
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