Nazareth Illit • נָצְרַת עִלִּית • الناصرة العليا / نتسرات عيليت
|• Mayor||Ronen Plot|
|• Total||32,521 dunams (32.521 km2 or 12.556 sq mi)|
|• Density||1,300/km2 (3,300/sq mi)|
|• Jews and others||71.3%|
|Name meaning||View of Galilee|
|^ From 1957 to 2019|
Nof HaGalil (Hebrew: נוֹף הַגָּלִיל, lit. View of Galilee; Arabic: نوف هچليل) is a city in the Northern District of Israel with a population of 41,734. Founded in 1957 as Nazareth Illit (Hebrew: נָצְרַת עִלִּית, Arabic: الناصرة العليا / نتسرات عيليت), it was planned as a Jewish town overlooking the Arab city of Nazareth and the Jezreel Valley. Today, 29% of the city's population is Arab. Its name was changed in 2019 to "Nof HaGalil" following a plebiscite in which 80% of voters approved the change. Only 5,000 residents of the former Nazareth Illit participated in the referendum (roughly 12% of the city's residents at the time).
The establishment of Nazareth Illit was conceived in the early 1950s when development towns such as Karmiel and Beit She'an were founded. There were economic and security reasons for developing a town in this region, but according to Shimon Landman, director of the Interior Ministry's Department of Minorities, the Nazareth municipal elections in 1954, in which the Israel communist party Maki became the largest faction, were a source of concern.
A parcel of 1,200 dunams of land, about half formerly within the municipal boundaries of Nazareth, was allocated in 1954, relying on a law that permitted expropriations for public purposes. Protests at this action reached the Supreme Court of Israel, which in 1955 accepted (HCJ 30/55) the government's word that the sole purpose of the land was to erect government facilities. However, it had already been decided that only 109 dunams would be used for that purpose and planning for residential neighborhoods continued. The first dwellings were completed in September 1956 and the first residents moved in later that year.
According to historian Geremy Forman, the director of the IDF Planning Department, Yuval Ne'eman, stated that the town would "safeguard the Jewish character of the Galilee as a whole, and... demonstrate state sovereignty to the Arab population more than any other settlement operation." Forman wrote that Nazareth Illit was meant to "overpower Nazareth numerically, economically, and politically."
Initially the city was referred to as the "Jewish neighborhood" of Nazareth, then as Kiryat Natzeret. The name Nazareth Illit (Upper Nazareth) was adopted in 1958. In 1961, Nazareth Illit was recognized as a municipal local council.
According to CBS, in 2014 the ethnic and religious makeup of the city was 64.4% Jewish and other non-Arabs, 21.6% Arab (7.2% Muslim and 14.4% Christian). In the 1990s, Nazareth Illit was the fastest developing city in the country with a growth rate of nearly 70 percent. Newcomers included new immigrants from the former Soviet Union and South America, as well as young couples. In 2012, Arabs accounted for 17 percent of the city's 40,000 residents.
The city's population has been dwindling ever since, due to its failing as a commercial and industrial center. Thus, a large portion of the younger population has left, which altered the city's demographics.
In 2010, the city had 12 elementary schools and two high schools. In 2019, after a successful school fundraising, a scientific and ecological greenhouse was set up on a 500 square meters site in the Atzmon elementry school. The students of Atzmon will not only grow vegetables and fruits, but also invent new varieties and experiment with the scientific process involved in their development.  A new high school for religious boys opened in 2010 and the Yeshivat Hesder of Maalot, which combines army service with Torah study, opened a branch there. The city also has a regional engineering college.
Nof HaGalil municipality cares for maintaining the city's green grounds and for the forestry of the city. Located by the city is the "Churchill Forest" (the money for which has been donated by the Jewish community of the United Kingdom in memory of Sir Winston Churchill). The forest, which lies on the downslope between Nazareth and Jezreel Valley, provides observation spots on the valley view.
Hapoel Nazareth Illit is the city's major football club. Having been promoted to the top division for the first time in 2003, the club was later relegated in 2006 to Liga Leumit, the second tier, where they currently play. The city's other football club, F.C. Nazareth Illit, plays in Liga Gimel.
The city's main football stadium is Green Stadium. In addition to hosting matches of the city's two football teams, the stadium hosted in the past Israeli Premier League matches of Hapoel Acre and Bnei Sakhnin whose stadiums didn't meet Israeli Premier League. During 2013–14 the stadium also hosted Hapoel Afula matches.
The city's table tennis team, Hapoel Nazareth Illit, plays at the Israeli Table-tennis Premier league. The team won both the championship and the state cup at the 2011–12 season.
Twin towns — sister cities
Nof HaGalil is twinned with:
- San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina
- Leverkusen, Germany
- Klagenfurt, Austria
- Győr, Hungary
- Chernivtsi, Ukraine
- Saint-Étienne, France
- Alba Iulia, Romania
- Kikinda, Serbia
- Dudu Aouate (born 1977), professional footballer
- Aya Korem, singer/songwriter
- Naum Prokupets
- Hisham Sulliman (born 1978), actor
- "Population in the Localities 2019" (XLS). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- https://www.gov.il/BlobFolder/unit/names_committee/he/Names_Committee_name070319.pdf, p. 3.
- A City with Character, Jerusalem Post
- G. Forman: Military Rule, Political Manipulation, and Jewish Settlement: Israeli Mechanisms for Controlling Nazareth in the 1950s, The Journal of Israeli History, Vol. 25, No. 2 (2006) 335-359.
- Forman, p349.
- Forman, p350.
- Forman, p351.
- WHAT’S IN A NAME? THE BACKGROUND TO THE NOF HAGALIL NAME-CHANGE
- Moskowitz, Israel (March 11, 2019). "Nazareth Illit changes name to differentiate from biblical Nazareth". Ynetnews. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
- נצרת עילית 2014
- Our Canadian friend, The Jerusalem Post
- Local Employment
- "The grand opening of the Atzmon Ecological Greenhouse". Youtube.
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