KIRYAT SHEMONAH (Heb. קִרְיַת שְׁמוֹנָה; "City of Eight"), town in northern Israel, in the Ḥuleh Valley, founded in 1950 when a local camp for new immigrants (*ma'barah) was transformed into a permanent residential area. In 1953 it received municipal council status and in 1974 it become a city, with an area of about 4 sq. mi. (10 sq. km.). The name Kiryat Shemonah commemorates Joseph *Trumpeldor and seven others who fell in 1920 in the defense of neighboring Tel Ḥai (*Kefar Giladi) against an attack led by notables of KhāliṢa village, which stood until 1948 on the site of what would later become Kiryat Shemonah. The town grew from 3,300 inhabitants in 1954 to 6,000 in 1956 and 10,000 in 1959, although the lack of solid economic foundations caused a much larger turnover of population in that period. The population then reached 15,300 in 1969 and stabilized somewhat. The oldest part of the town, in the valley between the narrow basalt ridge (the "Snake Head"), had small houses with adjoining auxiliary farms. Later, the main part of the town developed with multistory houses on the mountain slope to the west. In the mid-1990s the population was approximately 19,000, and by the end of 2002 it had risen slightly to 21,600, of whom 18% were new immigrants; 30% of the city's population was younger than 17. In 1969 local industry began to develop, e.g., a spinning mill (the largest enterprise), a fruit-packing plant and other plants based on the region's farming produce, and textile factories. Some of the enterprises were initiated by the Upper Galilee (i.e., Ḥuleh Valley) Regional Council, which has its seat at Kiryat Shemonah. In the initial years most of Kiryat Shemonah's workers were employed as hired farm laborers in the vicinity. This type of employment diminished in the 1960s, although the Ḥuleh Valley settlements, including kibbutz factories, were still important sources of employment for Kiryat Shemonah inhabitants. The beginning of settlement of the *Golan after the *Six-Day War furthered the town's development, though the city continued to suffer from severe economic problems, with income considerably below the national average. The city served as an urban center for the rural settlements around it.
From 1968 Kiryat Shemonah became the object of repeated shelling from beyond the nearby Lebanese frontier. The escalation of attacks on the city at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s led to the *Lebanon War. During these years the economic situation worsened and many residents left the city. The shelling – mainly by the Hizballah organization – continued after the end of the war, but to a lesser extent. Up to May 2000, when Israel withdrew its troops from Lebanon, the city was hit by 4,000 shells, causing 24 casualties and wrecking nearly 7,000 apartments and 250 cars. Since the withdrawal the Upper Galilee area, including Kiryat Shemonah, has enjoyed relative quiet.
Levenberg, Pirkei Kiryat Shemonah (1964); E. Spiegel, New Towns in Israel (1966). website: www.k-8.co.il.
[Efraim Orni /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]