Ramla

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RAMLA

Also called Er Ramleh; a town in Israel 12 miles southeast of Tel Aviv.

Ramla was founded in 717 c.e. to replace nearby Lydda as the region's capital under the Arab caliphate. It soon outstripped its neighbor in size and prosperity, thriving on trade and industry, particularly soap and olive oil. More than three-quarters of Ramla's 1946 population of 16,380 were Palestinian. In the 1948 ArabIsrael War, Israeli troops occupied the area and forced the evacuation of thousands of the town's Palestinian residents. The town grew again after the war with the arrival of Jewish immigrants. As of 1994, its population of 62,000 included fewer than 12,000 Arabs (similar to the nationwide balance between the two populations), half of whom lived in mixed neighborhoods and the other half in two rundown all-Arab sections. In 1993 Yoel Lavi, the newly elected mayor from the right-wing Likud Party and a son of Holocaust survivors, undertook a program to improve the educational opportunities available to the town's Arab children, in cooperation with several Israeli-Arab town councilors.

see also arabisrael war (1948); likud.

elizabeth thompson
updated by yehuda gradus

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Ramla or Ramleh (both: räm´lĕ) [Arab.,=sand], town (1994 pop. 57,300), central Israel, in a farming area. Ramla may be the biblical Ramathaim-zophim, but more probably it was founded (c.716) by the Arabs. It became the capital of Palestine and was fought over constantly during the Crusades. After Israeli forces took it in 1948, Ramla was resettled with Jewish immigrants. Landmarks include the Great Mosque (originally a 12th-century Crusader church) and the Square Tower (1318).