ROSH HA-AYIN (Heb. רֹאשׁ הָעַיִן), urban settlement in the coastal plain of Israel, 3 mi. (5 km.) east of Petaḥ Tikvah, near the Yarkon, whence the name Rosh ha-Ayin ("Head of the Spring") is derived. Ancient place names of the vicinity, the Hebrew *Aphek and the Greek Pegai (πηγαί, "springs"), also point to the river sources. Since the Middle Bronze period, the site constituted a major road station on the Via Maris leading from Egypt to Mesopotamia. As the area also commands the commodious entrance to the northern Judean Hills, sites of the vicinity were repeatedly fortified in history (Aphek, *Antipatris). The springs (which today are important in Israel's national water planning), and adjacent pumping installations, which provided water to Jerusalem during the British Mandate, were occupied by Israeli forces in July 1948. A large British army camp erected during World War ii was converted in 1950 into a ma'barah that provided shelter for immigrants from Yemen. In 1951, Rosh ha-Ayin was transformed into a permanent settlement, and in 1955 it received municipal council status. The town was Israel's only large Jewish agglomeration in which nearly all the inhabitants originated in a single country, i.e., Yemen. The population grew through natural increase from 5,880 persons in 1950 to 11,600 in 1970, although hardly any immigrants came after 1951 and a considerable number of inhabitants left for other places in Israel over the years. Most breadwinners were employed outside Rosh ha-Ayin in industrial and other enterprises in Petaḥ Tikvah and other towns in the outer ring of the Tel Aviv conurbation. In the mid-1990s, the population was approximately 17,800, doubling to 35,200 in 2002 as the city absorbed many residents from the Gush Dan area (the Tel Aviv conurbation). In 1994 Rosh ha-Ayin received city status in the presence of late Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin. Its municipal area was 11.5 sq. mi. (30 sq. km.), its population heterogeneous, and its new industrial area (Afek) based on high-tech industry, mainly communications.
[Shlomo Hasson /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]