Petaḥ Tikvah

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PETAḤ TIKVAH (Heb. פֶּתַח תִּקְוָה), city in Israel's Coastal Plain, 7 mi. (12 km.) E. of Tel Aviv. In the 1870s a number of observant Jews from Jerusalem decided to become farmers and establish a village called Petaḥ Tikvah ("Gateway of Hope"), after Hosea 2:17. They initially set out to purchase a tract of land near Jericho, but did not obtain the consent of the Turkish Crown to the transfer of ownership. Not abandoning their plan, in 1878 they chose an area of 3,400 dunams near the Yarkon River course, adjoining an Arab village called Mulabbis and owned by a Greek. The area looked attractive with its greenery, uncommon for the country in those days. Disregarding warnings of the danger of malaria there, the settlers acquired the land and thus laid the ground for the first Jewish village in the country, which later became known as "the mother of the moshavot." The founders, Joel Moses *Salomon, David *Gutmann, and Yehoshua *Stampfer, succeeded in mobilizing additional settlers, but soon malaria wrought havoc, the first harvests were disappointing, and quarrels broke out within the group. In 1882 Petaḥ Tikvah numbered 10 houses and 66 inhabitants. As health conditions became unbearable, the settlers had to transfer to the neighborhood of the Arab village Yehud further south.

In 1883 *Bilu immigrants renewed settlement on the site of Petaḥ Tikvah itself. They again had to withstand immense difficulties caused by their own lack of farming experience and financial means, frequent raids of Arab neighbors, and the hostility of the Turkish authorities. Baron Edmond de *Rothschild soon came to their aid and enabled them to embark on the drainage of the swamps. The direction of the moshavah passed from the local committee into the hands of the Rothschild administration. This step soon became a source of tension between the officials and the settlers, until Rothschild decided (in 1900) to transfer the moshavah to the *Jewish Colonization Association (ica). The danger of Arab attacks, causing bodily harm to settlers, damage to homes and other property, and the malicious practice of pasturing Arab flocks on Jewish fields prompted the settlers to organize a first guardsmen's group, headed by Abraham *Shapira, which succeeded in securing the village and driving off the marauders. The drainage of the swamps and planting of citrus groves led to an improvement in the economic situation and attracted more settlers and Jewish laborers.

In 1891 Petaḥ Tikvah numbered 464 inhabitants, and in 1900 there were 818. The moshavah was regarded as a center by the nascent Jewish labor movement, and in 1905 the ground was laid there for the Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir and Aḥdut ha-Avodah parties. In World War i, Petaḥ Tikvah came in between armies of the Central Powers (Turkey and Germany) and Allied lines before it was taken by the British in 1917. After the war, the moshavah absorbed many immigrants and in 1920 received municipal council status. In May 1921 an Arab attack on Petaḥ Tikvah was repulsed by a defense force consisting mainly of local youth, assisted by British troops, and four young men, among them Avshalom *Gissin, were killed. In 1930, it attained a population of 8,768. Its growth was accelerated further in the 1930s, thanks to its central location within the Jewish settlement zone, resulting in a population of 20,000 in 1938 and in the attainment of city status in 1939. Petaḥ Tikvah became the marketing center of its region's farming produce and established industries, which, initially, were based mainly on agricultural raw materials. Also in the 1930s underground Jewish defense organizations had headquarters in Petaḥ Tikvah.

With the expansion of its built-up area Petaḥ Tikvah gradually absorbed adjoining workers' quarters and villages (e.g., Mahaneh Yehudah, Ein Gannim, Kefar Gannim, Kefar Avraham, Sha'ariyyah). After 1948, the city's expansion proceeded at an even quicker pace, bringing the population to 45,000 in 1953, 54,000 in 1961, and 83,200 in 1970. In the mid-1990s the population was approximately 151,100, and by the end of 2002 it had increased to 172,600, making it the seventh largest city in Israel, ranging over an area of 15 sq. mi. (39 sq. km.). Its location on the outer ring of the Tel Aviv conurbation deeply influenced Petaḥ Tikvah's character. Although industry, with large enterprises in metals, rubber tires, textiles, food, and other branches, constituted the city's main economic foundation, farming still played a role, as the environs belonged to Israel's central citrus-growing area. Today, there is little farming in the PetaḥTikvah area. However, efforts to limit Petaḥ Tikvah's expansion over additional farmland in the vicinity, which was among Israel's most productive soil, resulted, from the 1960s, in denser and higher building in the city. Petaḥ Tikvah's industrial area has been expanded to include branches of some of the largest firms in Israel, such as Osem, esi, Intel, ibm, etc.

Two large hospitals, Beilinson and Ha-Sharon, are within Petah Tikvah's city limits. An important cultural institution has been Yad la-Banim, which is dedicated to the fallen in all stages of Israel's defense. In 1980 the institution was awarded the Israel Prize for special contribution to the state and society, with its founder, Baruch Oren, receiving special mention. According to the Israeli statistics bureau, Petah Tikvah is rated medium-high socio-economic status. The average salary in 2000 was slightly below the national average.

[Shlomo Hasson /

Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]