Ḥefer Plain

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ḤEFER PLAIN (Heb. עֵמֶק חֵפֶר), the central part of the Sharon Plain between the *Ḥaderah sand dunes in the north and

the *Netanyah-Tul-Karm road in the south. In 1928–29, the *Jewish National Fund (jnf) acquired the Wadi Hawārith lands initially comprising an area of some 8,000 acres. This purchase, one of the largest at the time, was made through aid extended by Canadian Zionists. A continuous chain of Jewish holdings was now created throughout the length of the Sharon to form the backbone of the Jewish settlement network. The first settlers, members of the moshav group "Irgun Vitkin," who arrived in the Ḥefer Plain in 1929, drained the swamps of the Alexander River which flows through the region from east to west, and planted trees to prevent the shifting of sand dunes. The legal land transfer was finalized and arrangements made with Bedouin who claimed tenant rights, while obstacles placed in the way by Arab nationalists and British Mandatory officials were dealt with. From 1931, permanent villages were set up, and in 1939–40, a further portion of the Hefer Plain ("Wadi Kabāni") was acquired, where additional settlements were later founded, partly by veterans of World War ii. After the *War of Independence (1948), the settlement bloc was extended also eastward, in the direction of Tul-Karm. The Hefer Plain became one of Israel's most thoroughly developed and densely settled rural districts, with 32 villages (44, including the newer villages in the east). Farming is highly intensive throughout, with citrus groves and dairy cattle breeding as prominent features. Midrashiyyat Ruppin (named after A. *Ruppin), maintained by the *Histadrut and other bodies, was for a time a center of agricultural study and research. Numerous industrial enterprises were founded in its kibbutzim, and its seaside villages developed as bathing resorts.

[Efraim Orni]