Jisr az-Zarqa

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Jisr az-Zarqa
  • גִ'סְּר א-זַּרְקָא
  • جـِسـْر الزرقاء
Hebrew transcription(s)
 • ISO 259 Ǧissr ʾa-Zárqaʾ
View of Jisr az-Zarqa
View of Jisr az-Zarqa
Jisr az-Zarqa is located in Haifa region of Israel
Jisr az-Zarqa
Jisr az-Zarqa
Coordinates: 32°32′17″N 34°54′44″E / 32.53806°N 34.91222°E / 32.53806; 34.91222Coordinates: 32°32′17″N 34°54′44″E / 32.53806°N 34.91222°E / 32.53806; 34.91222
Grid position 141/217 PAL
District  Haifa
 • Type Local council
 • Head of Municipality Az-Adin Amash
 • Total 1,520 dunams (1.52 km2 or 380 acres)
Population (2016)[1]
 • Total 14,207
Name meaning The bridge over the River Zerka[2]

Jisr az-Zarqa (Arabic: جِسْر الزَّرْقَاء‎, Hebrew: גִ'סְּר א-זַּרְקָא‬ lit. bridge over the blue; often shortened as Jisr) is an Israeli Arab town on Israel's northern Mediterranean coastal plain. Located just north of Caesarea within the Haifa District, it achieved local council status in 1963. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) the town had a population of 13,689 in 2014,[3] living on 1,500 dunams (1.5 km2) of coastal land.[4] 80% of residents reportedly live below the poverty line.[5] The name Jisr az-Zarqa is a reference to Taninim Stream, which is known in Arabic as the "Blue Valley" (Wadi az-Zarka). The mayor is Az-Adin Amash.


Excavations have revealed walls with pottery remains dating from the 1st CE, with amphoras dating from the 4th to 7th CE,[6] and remains of a structure carrying a ceramic pipe, most probably dating to the Byzantine era.[7] It has been suggested that the aqueduct in Jisr az-Zarqa is part of the aqueduct ending in Caesarea Maritima, but was never completed.[8]

Ottoman era[edit]

In 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described it: “This is properly speaking a dam rather than a bridge, built across the river so as to form a large pool. There is a causeway on the top of the dam: the height on the west is 20 feet; on the east the level of the water was 3 feet below the roadway. The masonry resembles that of the aqueduct fed from the pool. [..] The eastern face of the dam is cemented. Sluices lined with cement are constructed in the dam. The roadway is 8 feet to 10 feet broad. The work appears to be Roman."[9]

The SWP further noted: "There are small encampments of Arabs who live permanently in the marshes of the river Zerka. They are so strongly posted (the intricate way through the marshes being only known to themselves), that they are almost free from contributions to Government. They are known as 'Arab el Ghawarni."[10]

A population list from about 1887 showed that Guwarnet ez Zerka had about 335 inhabitants, all Muslim.[11]

British Mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Jisr al Zarqa showed a population of 348 Muslims,[12] increasing in the 1931 census (when it was counted with Kabara) to 572 Muslims, in a total of 117 houses.[13]

In 1945 the population of Arab el Ghawarina (Jisr Zerqa) was 620, all Muslims,[14] while the total land area was 3,428 dunams, according to an official land and population survey.[15] Of this, 6 were plantations and irrigable land, 674 for cereals,[16] while 69 dunams were classified as built-up areas.[17]

1948, aftermath[edit]

Before the establishment of the state, it was inhabited by Bedouin of the Ghawarina tribe.[18] The intervention of Jews from the neighboring towns of Zikhron Ya'akov and Binyamina, who relied on the population of Jisr az-Zarqa for agricultural labor, prevented the dispersal of its population in 1948.[19]

In November 2002, the Caesarea Development Corporation constructed a large earthen embankment running the length of the 160 meter-wide corridor between Jisr az-Zarqa and neighboring Caesarea. The embankment was built to block noise from the muezzin in local mosques, celebratory gunfire,[20] and to reduce property crime in surrounding communities.[21] Residents of Jisr az-Zarqa claim that the national park in the north, the embankment to the south, the highway to the east and the sea to the west, are keeping the town from expanding.[21][dead link]

The main coastal highway was built without providing an access to the village. However, a new interchange to Jisr az-Zarqa is being planned. The municipality of Jisr az-Zarka is seeking to promote environmental tourism to the town and its beachfront.[22] The Israel National Trail, a cross-country trail that runs from Dan in the north to Eilat in the south, passes through Jisr az-Zarka.[23] In 2013 it was reported that there were efforts to turn the town into a tourist destination[24][25]

In 2011, a women's leadership program was established in the wake of a similar project in the nearby town of Fureidis, to encourage women's participation in political and public leadership positions.[26]

Problems of pollution and overfishing in the coastal waters have affected the local economy, and many now work inland. From 20 to 30 buses transport on a daily basis Jisr az-Zarq residents to jobs, mostly menial, in Haifa, Tel Aviv and elsewhere.[27]


Typical sea-view street in Jisr az-Zarqa

The inhabitants of Jisr az-Zarqa are primarily Muslim.[28]

In 2006, the town reportedly had the lowest average monthly wage in Israel.[29] According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, it also had the highest high school drop out rates in the country, at 12%.[30][31]

A local resident, Mariam Amash, applied for a new identity card in Hadera in February 2008, using a birth document issued by the Ottoman Empire showing she was born in 1888. If verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, this would have made her the oldest living person in the world at 120.[32][33] She died on December 22, 2012 at the age of 124.[34]

In 1998, the first multiple kidney transplant in Israel took place between a couple from Jisr az-Zarqa and a Jewish couple from Jerusalem.[35]


The film Al Jiser (2004) by Ibtisam Mara'ana examines the lives of residents of Jisr-az Zarka.[36]

Panoramic view of Jisr az-Zarqa

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of localities, in Alphabetical order" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved September 26, 2017. 
  2. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 140
  3. ^ "לוח 3.- אוכלוסייה( 1), ביישובים שמנו מעל 2,000 תושבים( 2) ושאר אוכלוסייה כפרית Population (1) of localities numbering above 2,000 Residents (2) and other rural population". Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  4. ^ A Classic Zionist Story, Meron Rapoport, Jun 10, 2010, Haaretz
  5. ^ "In poor Arab villages like Jisr az-Zarka, poverty and alienation keep people from the polls". Retrieved 2016-09-24. 
  6. ^ Said, 2009, Jisr ez-Zarqa Final Report
  7. ^ Massarwa, 2010, Jisr ez-Zarqa, Final Report
  8. ^ Shadman, 2011, Jisr ez-Zarqa, Final Report
  9. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 13
  10. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 35
  11. ^ Schumacher, 1888, p. 181
  12. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Haifa, p. 35
  13. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 92
  14. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 13
  15. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 47
  16. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 89
  17. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 139
  18. ^ State Lands and Rural Development in Mandatory Palestine, 1920-1948, Warwick P. N. Tyler
  19. ^ Sacred Landscape: CHAPTER FIVE
  20. ^ Caesarea Archived 2006-10-08 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ a b Long Archived January 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Forgotten Arab Israeli Town Gets Chance to Change Eco-Image
  23. ^ Israel's new beach town
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ In an impoverished Israeli Arab town, women are learning the ABCs of leadership, Haaretz
  27. ^ Skylar Lindsay, 'Palestinian fishermen struggle to survive next door to Netanyahu’s palatial suburb,' Mondoweiss 23 September 2016.
  28. ^ ג'סר א-זרקא 2014
  29. ^ "Settlers earn double the minimum wage and more than the average wage". הגדה השמאלית. 24 August 2006. Archived from the original on 18 October 2006. 
  30. ^ "Jisr al-Zarqa, J'lem, Eilat have highest high school dropout rates". Haaretz. 8 September 2006. 
  31. ^ "Equal opportunity? Not in our school". Haaretz. 27 September 2006. 
  32. ^ Patience, Martin (2008-02-15). "World's 'oldest' person in Israel". BBC News. BBC MMVII. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  33. ^ "120 year-old woman files for identity card". Ynetnews.com. 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  34. ^ "Mariam Amash, possibly world's oldest person, dies age 124 (with video)". Ynetnews.com. 2012-12-23. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  35. ^ "An Israeli and an Arab showing the way". ArabicNews.com. 13 May 1998. Archived from the original on 15 February 2006. 
  36. ^ Al-Jiser


External links[edit]