Mevaseret Zion - History

History

Due to its strategic location, settlement in the area of Mevaseret Zion goes back to antiquity. The Romans built a fortress there, known as Castellum. On the ruins of this fortress, the Crusaders built a castle, Castellum Belveer, of which no trace remains.Belveer is mentioned in a letter from Eraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, dated September 1187, in which he describes the slaughter of Christians "by the sword of Mafumetus the Unbeliever and his evil worshipper Saladin" and the Arab conquest of the town, which was renamed al-Qastal.

During the British Mandate of Palestine, the British referred to this district as "The Castle", dropping the "t" as is customary in English. The Arabs called it "al-Qastal", pronouncing the "t." The Jews called it "Hacastel" ("the Castel").

In the 1948 Palestine War, battles took place here as Arabs and Jews fought for control of Qastal, which overlooked the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. Qastal exchanged hands several times in the course of the fighting. The tides turned when the Arab commander Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni was killed. Many of the Arabs left their positions to attend al-Husayni's funeral at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, April 9. That same day, Qastal fell to the Yishuv forces, virtually unopposed.

Maoz Zion ("Stronghold of Zion") was established in 1951 to house new immigrants from Iraq, Kurdistan, North Africa and Iran who had been living in a ma'abara, or transit camp, at the foot of the Castel. Many were employed at the nearby Solel Boneh stone quarry.

Mevaseret Yerushalayim was established east of Ma'oz Zion in 1956 by Jewish immigrants from North Africa. It was located on a ridge near the armistice line, north of Motza. The residents worked in the fruit orchards in the Arazim Valley.

In 1963, Maoz Zion and Mevaseret Yerushalayim formed a joint local council, which was called Mevaseret Zion. The source of the name comes from the Book of Isaiah: "על הר גבוה עלי לך מבשרת ציון" ("Ascend a lofty mountain, O herald of joy to Zion") (Isaiah 40:9).

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