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Jisr az-Zarqa

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Jisr az-Zarqa
Jisr az-Zarqa
View of Jisr az-Zarqa
District Haifa
Government Local council
Hebrew גִ'סְּר א-זַּרְקָא
Arabic جـِسـْر الزرقاء
Name meaning Bridge over the Blue
Population 11,100 (2005)
Area 1520 dunams (1.52 km2; 0.59 sq mi)
Founded in 1963
Coordinates 32°32′N 34°54′E / 32.533°N 34.9°E / 32.533; 34.9Coordinates: 32°32′N 34°54′E / 32.533°N 34.9°E / 32.533; 34.9

Jisr az-Zarqa (Arabic: جـِسـْر الزرقاء‎, Hebrew: גִ'סְּר א-זַּרְקָא‎ lit. bridge over the blue [stream]) is an Israeli Arab local council on Israel's northern Mediterranean coastal plain. Located just north of Caesarea within the Haifa District, it achieved local council status in 1963. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) the town had a population of 11,100 residents at the end of 2005. Its name refers to the Taninim stream, which is known in Arabic as 'the blue [stream].'


Jisr az-Zarqa is the only Arab town in Israel that is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea (though there are coastal towns such as Acre, Haifa, and Jaffa with significant Arab populations). Other Arab towns located along the coast were depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War during a large Israeli offensive called Coastal Clearing. However, the intervention of Jews from the neighboring towns of Zikhron Ya'akov and Binyamina, who relied on the population of Jisr az-Zarqa and nearby Fureidis for agricultural labor, prevented the Israeli authorities from dispersing the Arab populations there.[1]

Caesarea embankment

In November 2002, the Caesarea Development Corporation began constructing a large earthen embankment running the length of the 160 meter-wide corridor between the village and neighboring Caesarea. The construction was undertaken without informing the Jisr az-Zarqa municipal council, and for acoustical reasons; i.e., to block out noise from the muezzin, celebratory gunfire, etc.[2] Other explanations given have been the frequent thefts by village residents and the preservation of property values in Caesarea.[3][4] The residents of Jisr az-Zarqa refer to the 4 to 5 meter high and 1-1.5km long embankment as "the racist barrier." They claim that with a national park located to the north, the embankment to the south, a highway to the east and the sea to the west, that there is no room for their town to develop, and that it is effectively cut off from the surrounding areas.[3]


The inhabitants of Jisr az-Zarqa are primarily Muslim, although there is a Christian minority. There have also been unverified reports of the existence of a small community of idol worshipers or polytheists, who are alleged to be the descendants of the ancient Canaanite and Philistine nations.[5] The town has the lowest average monthly wage of any locality in Israel at 3,800 New Israeli Sheqel (NIS), or a little over 1,100 USD.[6] According the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Jisr az-Zarqa also has the highest high school drop out rates in the country at 12%.[7][8]

A woman from the town, Mariam Amash, applied for a new identity card in Hadera in February 2008, claiming she was 120 years old, born in 1888. This would make her the oldest living person in the world by six years, but the records during the Ottoman period when she was born were poor, thus her claim cannot be verified.[9][10]


Several events involving the village's residents highlight tensions surrounding its place in wider Israeli society:

  • In 1998, the first multiple kidney transplant in Israel took place between a couple from the village and a Jewish couple from Jerusalem.[11]
  • A Jewish motorist killed after a stone was thrown at his vehicle as he drove on the Haifa-Tel Aviv freeway near Jisr az-Zarqa and is generally considered the first Israeli fatality in the al-Aqsa Intifada. Four youths from the village were initially arrested, but for lack of evidence three were released, and one subject to house arrest.[12][4]
  • In the course of the Intifada, a 41 year old Arab resident was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in Afula.[4]


Street in Jisr

Typical sea-view street in Jisr

Further reading

ca:Jisr az-Zarqa

cs:Džisr a-Zarka

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