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Title: Tarshiha  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Suhmata, Dayr al-Qassi, Kuwaykat, Tarbikha, Operation Hiram, Safsaf, Neocatechumenal Way, 69 Squadron (Israel), Ain al-Hilweh, Meiron
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Hebrew transcription(s)
 • Hebrew מַעֲלוֹת-תַּרְשִׁיחָא
 • ISO 259 Maˁlot Taršiḥaˀ
 • Translit. Maʻalot-Tarshiḥa
Arabic transcription(s)
 • Arabic معالوت ترشيحا, Maʻālūt Taršīḥā

coat of arms

Coordinates: 33°1′N 35°16′E / 33.017°N 35.267°E / 33.017; 35.267Coordinates: 33°1′N 35°16′E / 33.017°N 35.267°E / 33.017; 35.267

District North
 • Type City (from 1996)
 • Mayor Shlomo Bohbot
 • Total
Population (2009)[1]
 • Total 20,600

Ma'alot-Tarshiha (Hebrew: מַעֲלוֹת-תַּרְשִׁיחָא; Arabic: معالوت ترشيحا‎) is a mixed city in the North District in Israel, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Nahariya, about 600 metres (1,969 feet) above sea level. The city was established in 1963 through a municipal merger of the Arab town of Tarshiha and the Jewish town of Ma'alot. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), in December 2009 the city had a total population of 20,600.[1]



Tarshiha is believed to have been built on the site of a Canaanite settlement, Haki , dating back to the 2nd-3rd millennium BC. Excavations of a 4th-century burial cave in the village unearthed a cross and a piece of glass engraved with a menorah.[2]

Crusader sources from the (12th and 13th century) refer to Tarshiha as Terschia, Torsia and Tersigha.[3] During the Crusader period, Tarshiha was the site of battles between Christians and Arabs. According to popular Arabic etymology (no reference), the name may have meant "Artemisia Mountain" in the Canaanite language, where Arabic Tuur for "mountain" and shiiH for Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort, or common wormwood) could be identified, or alternatively from Taar shiiHaa ("Shiha flew"), i.e. Shiha Jamaluddin (a legendary hero) rushed to the battlefield to fight the Crusaders.

In 1573, under the Ottoman Empire, the village of Tarshiha was raided by the Lebanese feudal chief, Mansur ibn Furaykh.[4] The daftar of 1596 show the village to be under the administration of the nahiya of Akka, with a population of 110 households ("khana"). The inhabitants paid taxes on "occasional revenues", bees and goats. The village was also taxed for a press, used either of olives or for grapes.[5] In the early eighteenth century, the village was under control of Shaikh Husayn,[6] while later in the Ottoman period it became one of the major cotton-producing villages of Galilee, and the administrative center of the nahiya.[7]

V. Guérin wrote in the 1860s that the principal mosque in Tarshiha had been built by Abdullah Pasha, (the Governor of Acre at the time.)[8] In the "Survey of Western Palestine" in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Tarshiha was described as: "a very large village, containing about 1,500 Moslems and 300 Christians; there is a fine mosque with minarets newly built, also an old one; the houses are well-built; a new and handsome church has been built in the Christian quarter".[9]

In 1945 the population of Tarshiha was 3,840.[10][11] Tarshiha was in the territory allotted to the Arab state under the 1947 UN Partition Plan.[12] However, in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the village was captured by the Israel Defense Forces in Operation Hiram on October 29.[13] The village was bombed by three Israeli planes on the evening of 28 October. This was followed by a prolonged artillery barrage and a further air raid in the morning with the village defenders and most of the inhabitants retreating north into Lebanon.[14][15] A UN observer reported that on 1 November 1948 the village was deserted and exstensively looted.[16] By December 1948 around 700 villagers, mostly Christians, had returned to the village.[17]

Any Arab who had not registered, as of November 1948, was regarded as illegal and if caught deported. An American Quaker relief worker with the American Friends Service Committee described a raid on Tarshiha on 15 January 1949. All males over sixteen were questioned by a panel of eight Israelis. 33 heads of families and 101 family members, aged 1 year to 79 years, were selected for deportation. They were robbed and expelled via 'Ara to Jenin. A UN observer in Jenin reported that their homes were being re-populated by large numbers of Jewish refugees from Austria.[18] In December 1949 the Israeli Foreign Ministry blocked an IDF plan to clear Tarshiha and five other villages along the Lebanon border of their remaining Arab populations in order to create a 5 to 10 kilometres (3 to 6 miles) Arab-free zone.[19] Arabs in the Galilee remained under Martial Law until 1966.


Ma'alot was established as a development town for Jewish immigrants from Romania, Iran, Lebanon and Morocco, in 1957. The first homes were built on Har HaRakafot (Cyclamen Hill), known in Arabic as Bab Al-Hauwa ("Gate of the Winds").[20]

Joint Ma'alot-Tarshiha

In 1963, Ma'alot was merged with the larger Tarshiha, and the unified town was renamed to reflect both origins. The inhabitants of Tarshiha hoped that the merger would improve the level of services.

On 15 May 1974, an elementary school in Ma'alot was attacked by terrorists of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in what became known as the Ma'alot massacre.[21] Twenty-two teenagers and three teachers from Safed on a class trip were murdered in the attack. They had been sleeping on the floor inside the building.[22] In addition, three Israeli women, one of them seven months pregnant, one four-year-old child, and two men were killed by the same terrorists in the events before the murder of the school children.[23]

Ma'alot-Tarshiha was officially recognized as a city in 1996.

Nearly 700 Katyusha rockets landed in the vicinity of Ma'alot-Tarshiha during the Second Lebanon War. Three Arab residents of the city were killed in a rocket attack.[24]

Demographics and income

In 2001, ethnic and religious makeup of the city was 79.7% Jewish and other non-Arabs, and 20.0% Arab (8.9% Muslim, 9.9% Christian, and 1.0% Druze). In the early 2000s, 52% of the population were Russian immigrants. In 2001, there were 10,100 males and 10,100 females. The population of the city was diverse in age with 35.7% 19 years of age or younger, 15.3% between 20 and 29, 20.4% between 30 and 44, 14.6% from 45 to 59, 3.9% from 60 to 64, and 10.0% 65 years of age or older. The population growth rate in 2001 was 3.0%.

As of 2000, CBS reported there were 6,931 salaried workers and 408 self-employed persons in the city. The mean monthly wage in 2000 for a salaried worker was NIS 4,435, a real change of 7.0% over the course of 2000. Salaried men had a mean monthly wage of NIS 5,652 (a real change of 9.9%) versus NIS 3,073 for women (a real change of 2.0%). The average income for the self-employed was NIS 6,320. There were 559 people who received unemployment benefits, and 1,785 people who received an income guarantee.


The Iscar plant and industrial parks built in the vicinity of Ma'alot-Tarshiha by Stef Wertheimer are major sources of employment for the city's residents. In 2007, the jobless rate in Ma’alot-Tarshiha was 5.5 percent, compared to 7.9 percent nationally.[25]


In 2001, there were 11 schools and 4,272 students in the city, including 7 elementary schools with an enrollment of 2,000, and 7 high schools with 2,272 students. 58.5% of the city's 12th graders earned a matriculation certificate in 2001. In August 1975, Yeshivat Ma'alot, a Hesder yeshiva, was established, attracting students from all over the world. In recent years the Yeshiva has estimated 300 students per year.

Landmarks and culture

Lake Monfort, an artificial lake to the east of Ma'alot-Tarshiha, has become a local tourist attraction. It was previously known as the Hosen Reservoir. The lake is featured in the city's emblem.[26]

In January 2008, Ma'alot-Tarshiha hosted the Israel International Chess Championship. The tournament, held at the community center, carried a prize of $20,000. The city has also hosted other international events, among them an international fencing tournament.[27] The "Stone in the Galilee" International Sculpture Symposium has been held annually in Ma'alot-Tarshiha since 1991. In this 10-day springtime event, sculptors from Israel and around the world convene at Montfort Lake to create stone sculptures from huge blocks of stone.[2]

In 2009, the non-profit Docaviv established an annual documentary film festival in the city in an effort to bring "high quality cultural activity to the Israeli periphery."[28]

Twin Towns — Sister Cities



  • Cohen, A. (1973), Palestine in the Eighteenth Century: Patterns of Government and Administration, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Cited in Petersen, (2002)
  • Conder, Claude Reignier and p.149 )
  • Palmer, E. H. (1881): p.55 )
  • p. 293-296
  • p.376)
  • Shammas, Anton (1988), The Retreat from Galilee, Granta 23, Spring 1988. ISBN 014-00-8603-X

External links

  • Official city website
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