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Gilo

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Gilo is a neighborhood in southern East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

 with a population of 40,000, mostly Jewish. It is one of the five ring neighborhoods
Ring Neighborhoods, Jerusalem
The Ring neighborhoods of Jerusalem are seven suburban neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. The neighborhoods are Ramot, Ramat Shlomo, Neve Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev, East Talpiot, Har Homa and Gilo...

 of Jerusalem and is built on land in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 that was annexed to Israel in 1980 under the Jerusalem Law
Jerusalem Law
The Jerusalem Law is a common name of Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel passed by the Knesset on July 30, 1980 .It began as a private member's bill proposed by Geula Cohen, whose original text stated that "the integrity and unity of greater Jerusalem in its boundaries after the Six-Day War...

. The international community
International community
The international community is a term used in international relations to refer to all peoples, cultures and governments of the world or to a group of them. The term is used to imply the existence of common duties and obligations between them...

 regards it as an Israeli settlement
Israeli settlement
An Israeli settlement is a Jewish civilian community built on land that was captured by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered occupied territory by the international community. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank...

 that is illegal under international law
International law and Israeli settlements
The international community considers the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories illegal under international law, but Israel maintains that they are consistent with international law because it does not agree that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the...

, although Israel disputes this. The area around Gilo has been inhabited since at least the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

, though Gilo itself was only established in 1973. Previously the area was ruled by the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 before becoming part of the British Mandate of Palestine and subsequently captured by Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. It lies beyond the Green Line
Green Line (Israel)
Green Line refers to the demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbours after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War...

, on land Israel captured during the Six Day War in 1967. The expansion of Gilo has been a cause of controversy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

.

Geography




Gilo is located on a hilltop in southwest Jerusalem, separated from Beit Jala by a deep gorge. The Tunnels Highway to Gush Etzion
Gush Etzion
Gush Etzion is a cluster of Israeli settlements located in the Judaean Mountains directly south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the West Bank, Palestinian territories. The core group includes four agricultural villages that were founded in 1940-1947 on property purchased in the 1920s and 1930s, and ...

 runs underneath it on the east, and the settlement of Har Gilo
Har Gilo
Har Gilo is an Israeli settlement and communal village located about five kilometers south of Jerusalem, and two kilometers west of Bethlehem in the northern Judean hills of the West Bank....

 is visible on the adjacent peak. Beit Safafa
Beit Safafa
Beit Safafa is an Arab neighborhood in south Jerusalem midway between the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Patt and Gilo, on the outskirts of Bethlehem. Beit Safafa had a population of 5,463 in 2000. It covers an area of 1,577 dunams.-History:...

 and Sharafat
Sharafat, East Jerusalem
Sharafat is a Palestinian village in East Jerusalem. Historically, it was located in Palestine, about 5 km to the south west of Jerusalem. It is mentioned in Jerusalem chronicles from the 13th and 15th centuries, Ottoman tax records from the 16th century, and the travel writings and...

 are located north of Gilo, while Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 is to the South.

Biblical era


A site dating to the period of Israelite settlement
Israelite highland settlement
Israelite highland settlement refers to ancient Israelite settlement in the highlands north of Jerusalem discovered in archaeological field surveys conducted in Israel since the 1970s....

 known as Iron Age I (1200 – 1000 BCE) was identified and excavated at Gilo. The site revealed a small planned settlement with dwellings along the perimeter of the site, together with pottery dating to the twelfth century BCE. The southern part of the Iron Age site at Gilo is believed to be one of the earliest Israelite sites from this period. The site was surrounded by a defensive wall and divided into large yards, possibly sheep pens, with houses at the edges. Buildings at the site are amongst the earliest examples of the pillared four room house
Four room house
The Four room house is the name given to the typical mud brick Israelite house in the iron age Levant. It is so named because its floor plan, the only portion typically remaining in excavated archeological sites, is divided into four sections...

 characteristic of Iron Age Israelite architecture, featuring a courtyard divided by stone pillars, a rectangular back room and rooms along the courtyard. The foundations of a structure built of large stones were also uncovered, possibly a fortified defense tower.

The biblical town of Gilo is mentioned in the Book of Joshua
Book of Joshua
The Book of Joshua is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible and of the Old Testament. Its 24 chapters tell of the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, their conquest and division of the land under the leadership of Joshua, and of serving God in the land....

 (Joshua 15:51) and the Book of Samuel (II Sam 15:12). Some scholars believe that biblical Gilo was located in the central Hebron Hills, whereas the name of the modern settlement was chosen because of its proximity to Beit Jala, possibly a corruption of Gilo. A city in the southwest part of the hill-country of Judah (Josh. 15:51), Gilo was the birthplace of Ahithophel "the Gilonite" (Josh. 15:51; 2 Sam. 15:12), and the place where he committed suicide (17:23). Gilo has been identified with Kurbet Jala, about 7 miles (11.3 km) north of Hebron.

During the construction of Gilo, archaeologists discovered a fortress and agricultural implements from the period of the First Temple period above the shopping center on Rehov Haganenet. Between Givat Canada and Gilo Park, they unearthed the remains of a farm and graves from the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 period. Roman and Byzantine remains have also been found at various sites.

Modern era


During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian army positioned its artillery at Gilo, heavily shelling West Jerusalem. An attempt to advance on Jerusalem from Gilo was beaten back in a fierce battle. Kibbutz
Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

 Ramat Rachel
Ramat Rachel
Ramat Rachel is a kibbutz located south of Jerusalem in Israel, as an enclave within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries. Overlooking Bethlehem and Rachel's Tomb and situated within the Green Line, it falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Yehuda Regional Council...

, located just north-east of Gilo, changed hands three times, ultimately remaining part of Israel, but Gilo remained on the side of the Green Line
Green Line (Israel)
Green Line refers to the demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbours after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War...

 held by the Kingdom of Jordan until 1967.

In 1970, the Israeli government expropriated
Eminent domain
Eminent domain , compulsory purchase , resumption/compulsory acquisition , or expropriation is an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent...

 12,300 dunams of land to build a ring of new neighborhoods around Jerusalem on land conquered in the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

. Gilo was established in 1973. According to an Israeli municipal planner, most Gilo land had been legally purchased by Jews before World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, much of it during the 1930s, and that Jewish landowners had not relinquished their ownership of their land when the area was captured by the Jordanians in the 1948 War.According to other sources, the land belonged to the Palestinian villages of Sharafat
Sharafat, East Jerusalem
Sharafat is a Palestinian village in East Jerusalem. Historically, it was located in Palestine, about 5 km to the south west of Jerusalem. It is mentioned in Jerusalem chronicles from the 13th and 15th centuries, Ottoman tax records from the 16th century, and the travel writings and...

, Beit Jala
Beit Jala
Beit Jala is an Arab Christian town in the Bethlehem Governorate of the West Bank. Beit Jala is located 10 km south of Jerusalem, on the western side of the Hebron road, opposite Bethlehem, at altitude...

 and Beit Safafa
Beit Safafa
Beit Safafa is an Arab neighborhood in south Jerusalem midway between the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Patt and Gilo, on the outskirts of Bethlehem. Beit Safafa had a population of 5,463 in 2000. It covers an area of 1,577 dunams.-History:...

. With its expansion over the years, Gilo has formed a wedge between Jerusalem and Beit Jala-Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

.

Demography



From its inception, Gilo has provided housing to new Jewish immigrants from around the world. Many of those who spent their first months in the country at the immigrant hostel in Gilo, including those from Iran, Syria, France and South America, chose to remain in the neighborhood. Since the large influx of Soviet Jews in the 1990s, Gilo has absorbed 15% of all immigrants of that wave settling in Jerusalem. The immigrant hostel is now the site of an urban kibbutz
Urban kibbutz
An urban kibbutz is a form of kibbutz which is located within an existing city. There are currently just over 100 in Israel, totalling around 2,000 members....

, Beit Yisrael. Gilo is a mixed community of religious and secular Jews, although more Haredi families are moving in.

Schools and institutions


Beit Or (Home of Light), a hostel for autistic
Autism
Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their...

 young adults, opened in Gilo in March 2008. The Ilan home for handicapped adults is located in Gilo. Gilo has 35 synagogues. In 2009, the Gilo community center, one of the largest in the country, introduced a new hybrid water heating system that saves energy and greatly reduces pollution. Park Gilo has a large adventure playground for children.

Settlement/neighborhood debate



Because Gilo is located beyond the 1949 Green Line
Green Line (Israel)
Green Line refers to the demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbours after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War...

, on land occupied since the Six Day War, the United Nations, the European Union and Japan refer to it as an illegal settlement.

Israel disputes this, and considers it a neighborhood of Jerusalem. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Gilo community council director Yaffa Shitrit, invited the world "to come and see the neighborhood of Gilo and to understand the geography. We're not a settlement, we're part of the city of Jerusalem, we're a neighborhood like Katamon." Palestinians
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 regard it as occupied territory and make no distinction between Gilo and the West Bank settlements.

Plans to expand Gilo have drawn criticism from the United States and United Kingdom. Israel maintains that it has the right to build freely in Gilo because the neighborhood is within Jerusalem municipal borders and not a West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 settlement. In 2009, the Jerusalem Planning Committee approved construction of 900 new housing units in Gilo, sparking a fresh round of global criticism.

Arab-Israeli conflict



From 2000, Beit Jala, a predominantly Palestinian Christian
Palestinian Christian
Palestinian Christians are Arabic-speaking Christians descended from the people of the geographical area of Palestine. Within Palestine, there are churches and believers from many Christian denominations, including Oriental Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholic , Protestant, and others...

 town, was used as a base by Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

's Tanzim
Tanzim
Tanzim is a militant faction of the Palestinian Fatah movement.-Overview:The Tanzim militia, founded in 1995 to counter Palestinian Islamism, is widely considered to be an armed offshoot of Fatah with its own leadership structure...

 gunmen to launch sniper and mortar attacks against Gilo. The Israeli government built a concrete barrier and installed bulletproof windows in the homes and schools on the periphery of Gilo, facing Beit Jala. The attacks on Gilo subsided after Operation Defensive Shield
Operation Defensive Shield
Operation Defensive Shield was a large-scale military operation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces in 2002, during the course of the Second Intifada. It was the largest military operation in the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. The operation was an attempt by the Israeli army to stop the...

, with the rate slowing to three incidents of gunfire that year. On August 15, 2010, following years of relative quiet, the IDF started dismantling the concrete barrier, nearly a decade after its construction.

Seventeen of the 19 passengers killed in the Patt Junction bus bombing were residents of Gilo.

Notable residents

  • Eli Amir
    Eli Amir
    -External links:...

     (born 1937), writer and civil servant
  • Rami Levi

External links