Urban community in Upper Galilee, Israel.
Founded in 1956 to replace two maʿabarot (temporary housing communities) of mostly North African Jewish immigrants, Maʿalot is situated some 6 miles south of the Lebanese border, in the heart of the Western Galilee, on hilly terrain at an elevation of 1,970 feet, with a commanding view of Wadi Koren. In 1963 the town united with the nearby Palestinian village of Tarshiha. The town's population, totaling some 20,000 in 2002, works mainly in industry.
On 15 May 1974 three Arab terrorists from Nayif Hawatma's Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, disguised in Israeli uniforms, entered Maʿalot, overpowered and killed a guard posted outside, and took control of a school building, where a group of ninety children on a field trip slept on the floor. Some of the children were killed on the spot, but others escaped by jumping out of a window on the second floor. The terrorists demanded the release of Arab guerrillas from Israeli prisons by 6:00 p.m. and threatened to kill the hostage children if the demands were not met. At 5:45 p.m. a unit of the Israeli army's elite Golani Brigade stormed the building, killing the three terrorists, but not before the terrorists killed sixteen children and wounded seventy.
see also hawatma, nayif.
updated by yehuda gradus