Coordinates: 33°1′0″N 35°16′15″E / 33.01667°N 35.27083°E / 33.01667; 35.27083
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  • מַעֲלוֹת-תַּרְשִׁיחָא
  • معالوت ترشيحا
City (from 1996)
Hebrew transcription(s)
 • ISO 259Maˁlot Taršiḥaˀ
 • Translit.Maʻalot-Tarshiḥa
Official logo of Ma'alot-Tarshiha
Ma'alot-Tarshiha is located in Northwest Israel
Ma'alot-Tarshiha is located in Israel
Coordinates: 33°1′0″N 35°16′15″E / 33.01667°N 35.27083°E / 33.01667; 35.27083
Grid position175/268 PAL
Country Israel
Founded12th century
 • MayorArkady Pomeranets
 • Total9,220 dunams (9.22 km2 or 3.56 sq mi)
 • Total22,315
 • Density2,400/km2 (6,300/sq mi)
Name meaningTeir Shiha: Teir, a fortress. Shih is a fragrant herb.[2]

Ma'alot-Tarshiha (Hebrew: מַעֲלוֹת-תַּרְשִׁיחָא; Arabic: معالوت ترشيحا, Maʻālūt Taršīḥā) is a city in the North District in Israel, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Nahariya, and 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, creating a unique type of Israeli mixed city.

As of 2021, the city had a population of 22,315.[3]



Excavations of a 4th-century burial cave in the village, unearthed a cross and a piece of glass engraved with a menorah.[4]

Crusader sources from the 12th and 13th century refer to Tarshiha as Terschia, Torsia, and Tersigha.[5] The King had initiated the settlement of Crusader (Latin, Frankish) people in nearby Mi'ilya ("Castellum Regis"), and from there settlement spread out to Tarshiha.[6] In 1160, Torsia and several surrounding villages were transferred to a Crusader named Iohanni de Caypha (Johannes of Haifa).[7] By 1217, the village was probably inhabited by Crusader ("Frankish") people.[8] In 1220 Joscelin III´s daughter Beatrix de Courtenay and her husband Otto von Botenlauben, Count of Henneberg, sold their land, including Tersyha, to the Teutonic Knights.[9] In 1266, Tarshiha was raided by Crusader troops.[5]

According to popular Arabic etymology,[citation needed] the name may have meant "Artemisia Mountain" in the Canaanite language, where Arabic ṭūr for "mountain" and shīḥ for Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort, or common wormwood) could be identified. E. H. Palmer (1881) explains the name as Teir meaning "a fortress", and Shīḥ, "a fragrant herb".[10]

Ottoman era[edit]

Incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 with the rest of Palestine, the village of Tarshiha was raided by the Lebanese feudal chief, Mansur ibn Furaykh in 1573.[5] The daftar of 1596 show the village to be under the administration of the nahiya of Akka, with a population of 107 households ("khana") and 3 bachelors, all Muslim. 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. Total revenue was 17,660 akçe.[11][12]

In the early eighteenth century, the village was under control of Shaikh Husayn,[13] while later in the Ottoman period it became one of the major cotton-producing villages of Galilee, and the administrative center of the nahiya.[14] Mariti visited the village (which he called Terschia) in 1761, and wrote that it "abounds with water; which adds greatly to the fertility of its cotton plants, its fruit-trees, and above all its tobacco".[15]

Victor Guérin, who visited in 1875, found that Tarshiha "consists of four quarters, under the jurisdiction of as many different sheikhs. There are 2,000 Moslems, who have their mosques. The Christians occupy their own quarters: with the exception of a few families they are all Uniate Melkite Greeks, and number about 500."[16] In 1881 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Tarshiha 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".[17]

A population list from about 1887 showed Tarshiha to have about 4,855 inhabitants; 4,000 Muslims and 855 Christian.[18]

British Mandate era[edit]

Tarshiha sign on Mandatory police station

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Tarsheha had a population of 1,880 residents; 1,521 Muslims, 358 Christians and 1 Druze,[19] where the Christians were 298 Melkite, 53 Orthodox and 7 Church of England.[20] The population had increased in the 1931 census to a total of 2522; 2047 Muslims and 475 Christians, in a total of 584 houses.[21]

In the 1945 statistics the population of Tarshiha was 3,840; 3140 Muslims and 690 Christians.[22][23][24][25] The total population of Tarshiha combined with Al-Kabri was 5,360 Arabs, with 47,428 dunams of land.[26] Of this, a total of 743 dunums of land in the two places was used for citrus and bananas, 5,301 were plantation and irrigable land, 14,123 for cereals,[27] while 252 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[28]

Residents of Ma'alot-Tarshiha interviewed in early 1980s recalled Tarshiha as being the leading village in the area with a population of 3,000 including 700 Christians. The Christians had established a successful handcrafts industry. The villages main crop was tobacco. There was a tobacco growers union which ran a trucking cooperative. In the mid 1930s it was learnt that the Sursock family were going to sell land in the Jaqtoun valley. A delegation from the village travelled to Beirut and was able to buy the land. After clearing and draining it was divided into plots which were distributed by lottery to the participating families. Tarshiha was the first Palestinian village to establish a development fund by collecting £1 a year from each adult male resident.[29]

1947-48 war[edit]

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War Tarshiha served as the headquarters of Fawzi al-Qawuqji, who headed the Arab Liberation Army.[citation needed] Tarshiha was in the territory allotted to the Palestinians under the 1947 UN Partition Plan.[30]

Following the establishment of the state of Israel Tarshiha was surrounded on three sides by the Israeli army and the border with Lebanon to the North. Tarshiha and sixteen smaller villages established a regional committee which organised the reopening of schools, regulated imports from Lebanon as well as attending to security and defence.[31]

State of Israel[edit]

In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the village was captured by the Israel Defense Forces in Operation Hiram. 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.[32][33] The village was captured by the Israel Defense Forces on October 29.[34] A UN observer reported that on 1 November 1948 the Arab villages around Tarshiha were deserted and extensively looted by Israeli forces. The New York Times added that the looting appeared systematic, as Israeli army trucks were used carrying off the looted goods.[35] By December 1948 around 700 villagers, mostly Christians, had returned to the village.[36] Families from Tarshiha began arriving in Beirut shortly after the conquest of the village and lived in rented rooms around Bourj el Barajneh which at that time was a suburb on the fringe of the city. About half of the 3,000 villagers arriving in Lebanon settled there in what became Bourj al Barajneh refugee camp. They took on most of the leadership roles and remained the majority population for many years. In 1981 it was estimated 4-5,000 Tarshihans were living in the camp. Those villagers who were unable to reach Beirut in 1948 were rounded up and sent by train to Allepo were they became the largest group in al-Neirab Camp.[37]

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.[38] 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 an 5 to 10 kilometres (3 to 6 miles) Arab-free zone.[39] Arabs in the Galilee remained under Martial Law until 1966.

The abandoned houses in Tarshiha were initially taken over by Jews from Romania. When they were moved on to new settlements the houses were demolished. Around 600 villagers remained after 1948. They were joined by others expelled from nine other local villages.[31]


Ma'alot-Tarshiha city hall

Ma'alot was established as a development town for Jewish immigrants from Romania, Iran 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").[citation needed]

Ma'alot-Tarshiha merger[edit]

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.[40] 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.[41] 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.[42]

A visitor in 1980 estimated that half of the 2,400 Arabs living in the town originated from Tarshiha. 70% of those with jobs worked in the building trade, none of them were farmers. The 3,500 Jewish residents were mostly Moroccan. Few of whom stayed for long periods.[43]

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.[44]


St. George Church, Tarshiha

In 2016, ethnic and religious makeup of the city was 79.2% Jewish and other non-Arabs, and 20.8% Arab (10% Muslim, 9.9% Christian, and 0.3% Druze).[45] In 2016, there were 10,600 males and 10,500 females. The population of the city was diverse in age with 30.8% 19 years of age or younger, 14.2% between 20 and 29, 18.1% between 30 and 44, 18.2% from 45 to 59, 5.5% from 60 to 64, and 13.1% 65 years of age or older. The population growth rate in 2016 was −0.4%.[45]

As of 2016, there were 10,503 salaried workers and 564 self-employed persons in the city. The mean monthly wage in 2016 for a salaried worker was NIS 7,745 (USD 2397.83). Salaried men had a mean monthly wage of NIS 9,360 versus NIS 6,005 for women. The average income for the self-employed was NIS 8,929. Some 37% of the working population worked for minimum wage, 269 people received unemployment benefits, and 940 people who received an income guarantee.[45]

Following Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 some ex South Lebanon Army soldiers and officers who fled from Lebanon settled in Ma'alot with their families.[46]


Sheik Abd Allah Pasha Mosque

The Tefen Industrial Zone, which includes famous companies such as the Iscar plant was built in the vicinity of Ma'alot-Tarshiha by Stef Wertheimer and is major source 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.[47]


Yeshivat Ma'alot

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[edit]

Performing arts center, Ma'alot

Victor Guérin, after his 1875 visit, wrote that the principal mosque in Tarshiha had been built by Abdullah Pasha, (the Governor of Acre at the time.) He further noted that it was "preceded by a court, then by a porch; surmounted by a cupola, above which springs an elegant minaret."[48] Andrew Petersen, who inspected the mosque in 1993, noted that it was built in "classical Ottoman style with four main elements: a courtyard, an arcade, a domed prayer hall, and a minaret."[49]

Monfort Lake, Ma'alot

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.[citation needed]

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.[50] 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.[51]

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."[52]

Notable people[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]


  1. ^ "Regional Statistics". Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  2. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 55
  3. ^ "Oops, Something is wrong" (PDF).
  4. ^ Hachlili, Rachel (2001). The Menorah, the Ancient Seven-armed Candelabrum: Origin, Form, and Significance. Brill. pp. 108–109. ISBN 9789004120174.
  5. ^ a b c Petersen, 2001, p. 293
  6. ^ Ellenblum, 2003, pp. 44, fig 1. 68, 95, 213
  7. ^ Strehlke, 1869, pp. 2-3, No. 2; Cited in Röhricht, 1893, RRH, p. 89, No. 341; cited in Frankel, 1988, pp. 263, 267
  8. ^ Strehlke, 1869, p. 41, no. 49; Cited in Ellenblum, 2003, p. 53
  9. ^ Strehlke, 1869, pp. 43- 44, No. 53; cited in Röhricht, 1893, RHH, p. 248, No. 934 (2); cited in Frankel, 1988, p. 263
  10. ^ "The survey of Western Palestine : Arabic and English name lists collected during the survey". 1881.
  11. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 192. Quoted in Petersen, 2001, pp. 293-4
  12. ^ Note that Rhode, 1979, p. 6 writes that the register that Hütteroth and Abdulfattah studied was not from 1595/6, but from 1548/9
  13. ^ Cohen, 1973, p. 9. Quoted in Petersen, 2001, p. 294
  14. ^ Cohen, 1973, pp. 12, 121. Quoted in Petersen, 2001, p. 294
  15. ^ Mariti, 1792, p. 339
  16. ^ Guérin, 1880, pp. 63-64, as translated by Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 149
  17. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 149
  18. ^ Schumacher, 1888, p. 190
  19. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Acre, p. 36
  20. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XVI, p. 49
  21. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 103
  22. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 5
  23. ^ Village Statistics The Palestine Government, April 1945 Archived 2012-06-09 at the Wayback Machine, p. 3
  24. ^ Khalidi, 1992, p. 19
  25. ^ Morris, 1987, p. 239. Gives the population as 4-5,000. 4/5 Muslim.
  26. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 41
  27. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 81
  28. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 131
  29. ^ Middle East International No 151, 5 June 1981; Publishers Lord Mayhew, Dennis Walters MP Editor Michael Adams; Per A Christiansen p.16
  30. ^ Palestine Plan of Partition (Map). United Nations. Archived from the original on 2009-01-24. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
  31. ^ a b Middle East International No 151
  32. ^ Khalidi, 1992, pp.13,477
  33. ^ O'Ballance, Edgar (1956) The Arab-Israeli War. 1948. Faber & Faber, London. pp. 188, 190. Writes of an Arab Liberation Army garrison in the village.
  34. ^ "Tour and Signposting in Tarshiha". Zochrot. 2006-11-11. Archived from the original on January 17, 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  35. ^ Khalidi, 1992, p.6
  36. ^ Morris, 1987, pp. 194, 225, 239. 100 Muslims and 600 Christians.
  37. ^ Middle East International No 152, 19 June 1981; Publisher Christopher Mayhew, Editor Michael Adams; Per A. Christiansen p.16
  38. ^ Morris, 1993, p. 145
  39. ^ Morris, 1987, p. 242
  40. ^ "Top 10 Worst School Massacres". The List Universe. 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
  41. ^ "1974: Dozens Die as Israel Retaliates for Ma'alot". BBC. 1974-05-16. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
  42. ^ "Bullets, Bombs and a Sign of Hope", TIME, May 27, 1974.
  43. ^ Middle Ast International No 151
  44. ^ Ben Simon, Daniel. "On TV, They Said There Were No Katyushas Left". Haaretz. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
  45. ^ a b c "Ma'alot Tarshiha" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  46. ^ Shachmon, Ori; Mack, Merav (2019). "The Lebanese in Israel – Language, Religion and Identity". Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft. 169 (2): 343–366. doi:10.13173/zeitdeutmorggese.169.2.0343. ISSN 0341-0137. JSTOR 10.13173/zeitdeutmorggese.169.2.0343. S2CID 211647029.
  47. ^ Sher, Hanan (November 2007). "$4 Billion Man". 89. Hadassah Magazine. Retrieved 2008-10-25. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  48. ^ Guérin, 1880, pp. 63-64, as translated by Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 149, and cited in Petersen, 2002, p. 294
  49. ^ Petersen, 2001, p. 294
  50. ^ Khoury, Jack (2008-01-17). "12-Year-Old Kfar Sava Girl Defeats 20 Men (In Chess Tournament)". Haaretz. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  51. ^ "Ma'alot". B&B Israel. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
  52. ^ "Docaviv (Hebrew)". Docaviv. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  53. ^ "State-to-State Cooperation: Pennsylvania and Israel". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2022-03-10.


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