KIRYAT GAT (Heb. קִריַת גַּת), town with municipal status (from 1972) in the southern Coastal Plain of Israel. Kiryat Gat was founded in 1955 near the tell then held to be the site of Philistine *Gath. West of the present municipal area lay the village Fālūja, which was abandoned in 1948. It was destroyed after the "Ten Plagues" Operation in the *War of Independence, when Israeli forces laid siege to a large contingent of Egyptian forces there. Kiryat Gat, planned to serve as the urban center of the *Lachish Development Region, expanded quickly, rising from 4,400 inhabitants in 1958, to 17,000 in 1969. Of the adult population (1968), about 50% were immigrants from Mediterranean countries, mainly North Africa, 20% from Eastern Europe, mainly Romania, and 15% from Western Europe and North and South America, while the rest were Israeli-born or veteran Israelis. In the mid-1990s the population was approximately 38,300, increasing to 48,200 in 2002, with a municipal area of around 4 sq. mi. (10 sq. km.). The development of the town's economy began with services rendered to the Lachish Region's rural settlements and with industries based on farming produce, e.g., cotton ginneries. These were soon followed by large cotton and wool spinning and weaving plants, clothes factories, and a sugar factory. In the later 1960s other enterprises developed. The local labor demand made it necessary to attract additional population by stepping up apartment building. The industrial area, to the southwest of the town, was twice enlarged to make room for new enterprises, while the commercial region in the center was replanned and a municipal park laid out. At the end of the 1990s Intel Industries opened a microprocessor factory in Kiryat Gat. The plant employed 3,700 workers. Another 400 workers were employed in nearby factories servicing the Intel plant. Average income in the city was considerably below the national average.
[Efraim Orni /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]