Coordinates: 31°43′53″N 35°11′11″E / 31.73139°N 35.18639°E / 31.73139; 35.18639
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Street in Gilo

Gilo (Hebrew: גִּלֹה) is an Israeli settlement in south-western East Jerusalem, with a population of 30,000, mostly Jewish inhabitants. Although it is located within the Jerusalem Municipality, it is widely considered a settlement, because as one of the five Ring Neighborhoods built by Israel surrounding Jerusalem, it was built on land in the West Bank that was occupied by and effectively annexed to Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War and 1980 Jerusalem Law.[1][2][3][4][5]

The international community regards Israeli settlements illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.[6][7] Israel also disputes its designation as a settlement, and it is administered as part of the Jerusalem municipality.[2][3][7]

Map of the Gilo region


Panoramic view of Jerusalem from Gilo
View of Gilo from Beit Jala

Gilo is located on a hilltop in southwestern East Jerusalem separated from Beit Jala by a deep gorge. The Tunnels Highway to Gush Etzion runs underneath it on the east, and the settlement of Har Gilo is visible on the adjacent peak. Beit Safafa and Sharafat are located north of Gilo, while Bethlehem is to the South.[8]


Biblical era

A site dating to the period of Israelite settlement during Iron Age I (1200 – 1000 BCE) was identified and excavated at the modern site of Gilo. The site revealed a small planned settlement with dwellings along the perimeter of the site, together with pottery dating to the twelfth century BC.[9] The southern part of the Iron Age site at Gilo is believed to be one of the earliest Israelite sites from this period.[9] The site was surrounded by a defensive wall and divided into large yards, possibly sheep pens, with houses at the edges. Buildings at the site are amongst the earliest examples of the pillared four room house characteristic of Iron Age Israelite architecture, featuring a courtyard divided by stone pillars, a rectangular back room and rooms along the courtyard. The foundations of a structure built of large stones were also uncovered, possibly a fortified defense tower.[9]

The biblical town of Giloh is mentioned in the Book of Joshua (Joshua 15:51) and the Book of Samuel (II Sam 15:12).[10] Some scholars believe that biblical Giloh was located in the central Hebron Hills, whereas the name of the modern settlement was chosen because of its proximity to Beit Jala, possibly a corruption of Giloh.[11] During the construction of the modern suburb of Gilo, archaeologists discovered a fortress and agricultural implements from the period of the First Temple period above the shopping center on Rehov Haganenet. Between Givat Canada and Gilo Park, they unearthed the remains of a farm and graves from the Second Temple period. Roman and Byzantine remains have also been found at various sites.[12]

Modern era

According to ARIJ, Israel confiscated land from several Palestinian villages/towns in order to construct Gilo:

During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the Egyptian army positioned its artillery at Gilo, heavily shelling West Jerusalem. An attempt to advance on Jerusalem from Gilo was beaten back in a fierce battle. Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, located just north-east of Gilo, changed hands three times, ultimately remaining part of Israel, but Gilo remained on the side of the Green Line held by the Kingdom of Jordan until 1967.[17][better source needed]

In 1970, the Israeli government expropriated 12,300 dunams of land to build Ring Neighborhoods around Jerusalem on land conquered in the Six-Day War.

Gilo was established in 1973. According to some sources, the land belonged to the Palestinian villages of Sharafat, Beit Jala and Beit Safafa.[18][19] With its expansion over the years, Gilo has formed a wedge between Jerusalem and Beit Jala-Bethlehem.[18]


Beit Or hostel

In 2017, Gilo had a population of 30,900.[20] From its inception, Gilo has provided housing to new Jewish immigrants from around the world. Many of those who spent their first months in the country at the immigrant hostel in Gilo, including those from Iran, Syria, France and South America, chose to remain in the neighborhood. Since the large influx of Soviet Jews in the 1990s, Gilo has absorbed 15% of all immigrants of that wave settling in Jerusalem.[21] The immigrant hostel is now the site of an urban kibbutz, Beit Yisrael.[11] Gilo is a mixed community of religious and secular Jews, although more Haredi families are moving in.[11]

Schools and institutions

Beit Or (Home of Light), a hostel for autistic young adults, opened in Gilo in March 2008.[22] The Ilan home for handicapped adults is located in Gilo.[23] Gilo has 35 synagogues.[24] In 2009, the Gilo community center, one of the largest in the country, introduced a new hybrid water heating system that saves energy and greatly reduces pollution.[25] Park Gilo has a large adventure playground for children.[26]

Settlement debate

Gilo shopping center and residential towers

Because Gilo is located beyond the 1949 Green Line, on land occupied since the Six-Day War, the United Nations,[27] the European Union[28] and Japan[29] refer to it as an illegal settlement.

Israel disputes this, and considers it a neighborhood of Jerusalem.[3][28] In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Gilo community council director Yaffa Shitrit, invited the world "to come and see the neighborhood of Gilo and to understand the geography. We're not a settlement, we're part of the city of Jerusalem, we're a neighborhood like Katamon."[30] Palestinians regard it as occupied territory and make no distinction between Gilo and the West Bank settlements.[31]

Plans to expand Gilo have drawn criticism from the United States and United Kingdom. Israel maintains that it has the right to build freely in Gilo because the neighborhood is within (expanded) Jerusalem municipal borders and not a West Bank settlement.[32] In 2009, the Jerusalem Planning Committee approved construction of 900 new housing units in Gilo, sparking a fresh round of global criticism.[33]

Arab-Israeli conflict

Concrete wall decorated with landscape mural built to shield Gilo residents from Palestinian gunfire (dismantled in 2010)

From 2000, Beit Jala, a predominantly Palestinian Christian town, was used as a base by Fatah's Tanzim gunmen to launch sniper and mortar attacks[34] against Gilo.[35] The Israeli government built a concrete barrier and installed bulletproof windows in the homes and schools on the periphery of Gilo, facing Beit Jala.[36] The attacks on Gilo subsided after Operation Defensive Shield, with the rate slowing to three incidents of gunfire that year.[37] On August 15, 2010, following years of relative quiet, the IDF started dismantling the concrete barrier, nearly a decade after its construction.[38]

Seventeen of the 19 passengers killed in the Patt Junction bus bombing were residents of Gilo.[39]

Notable residents

See also


  1. ^ "UN official: Gilo expansion threatens Middle East peace". Haarerz. 24 November 2009. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Israel Angers Palestinians With Plan for Housing". New York Times. September 27, 2011. Archived from the original on November 20, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c KERSHNER, ISABEL (November 17, 2009). "Plan to Expand Jerusalem Settlement Angers U.S." The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 24, 2018. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  4. ^ BEN-DAVID, LENNY (2007-12-15). "The strategic significance of Har Homa (op-ed)". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2013-02-24.
  5. ^ "Israel dismantles security barrier at Gilo". BBC News. August 16, 2010. Archived from the original on August 18, 2010.
  6. ^ "Israel approves new settler homes". BBC News. 5 April 2011. Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b "The Geneva Convention". BBC News. December 10, 2009. Archived from the original on October 18, 2015. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  8. ^ "Het conflict Palestijnen – Israël". Likoed Nederland. Archived from the original on January 7, 2009.
  9. ^ a b c Mazar, Amihai, (1994) “The Iron Age I” in Ben-Tor, Amnon (Ed.), “The Archaeology of Ancient Israel”, pp. 286–295, Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-05919-1
  10. ^ "Gilo & Har Choma". Archived from the original on February 27, 2007.
  11. ^ a b c LIDMAN, MELANIE (2009-11-29). "Housing on the horizon?". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  12. ^ "Jerusalem neighborhoods". Archived from the original on 9 April 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  13. ^ Beit Safafa & Sharafat Town Profile p. 14
  14. ^ Bethlehem City Profile, ARIJ, p. 25
  15. ^ Beit Jala City Profile ARIJ pp. 23-24
  16. ^ Al Walaja Village Profile, p. 17
  17. ^ "A history of Jerusalem's highest neighborhood". Archived from the original on 25 July 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  18. ^ a b Shaul Ephraim Cohen (1993). The politics of planting: Israeli-Palestinian competition for control of land in the Jerusalem periphery (Illustrated ed.). University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-11276-4.
  19. ^ Ashkenasi, Abraham (1999). Abraham Ashkenasi (ed.). The future of Jerusalem. P. Lang. p. 293. ISBN 0-8204-3505-8."Gilo It was established in 1973 on Beit Safafa, Sharafat and Beit Jala land..."
  20. ^ Korach, Michal; Choshen, Maya (2019). "Jerusalem Facts and Trends" (PDF). Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research. p. 21. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  21. ^ "Jerusalem neighborhoods: Gilo". Archived from the original on 9 April 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  22. ^ "A house for life". Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Gilo Residence of the Ilan Foundation". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  24. ^ "Our Jerusalem: Pain and sorrow are not a sign of weakness". Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  25. ^ Waldoks, Ehud Zion (2013-03-24). "Hybrid water heating system to be dedicated at Gilo community center". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  26. ^ "Israel hot spots: Jerusalem information". Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  27. ^ SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPLORES ISRAEL'S SETTLEMENT EXPANSION DECISION Archived 2014-07-25 at the Wayback Machine November 17, 2009
  28. ^ a b PHILLIPS, LEIGH (November 19, 2009). "EU rebukes Israel for Jerusalem settlement expansion". Archived from the original on November 22, 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  29. ^ McGlynn, John (December 28, 2008). "Japan, Israeli Settlements, and the Future of a Palestinian State". The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (52–1–09). Archived from the original on May 5, 2010. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  30. ^ "Oops! the page you were looking for doesn't exist, please retry – GoJerusalem". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  31. ^ Klein Halevi, Yossi (December 22, 2000). "The War Within East Jerusalem (op-ed)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  32. ^ Jeffrey Heller (Nov 18, 2009). "Obama criticizes Israel over settlement-building". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24.
  33. ^ "Oops! the page you were looking for doesn't exist, please retry – GoJerusalem". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  34. ^ Haberman, Clyde (30 August 2001). "Gilo Waits for Deliverance As Mideast Violence Goes On". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  35. ^ Rees, Matt (18 December 2000). "Fields Of Fire". Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2018 – via
  36. ^ WILKINSON, TRACY (3 September 2001). "It's Back-to-School Day for Israeli Children on Gilo's Front Line". Archived from the original on 5 July 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2018 – via LA Times.
  37. ^ "Shooting and buying, Haaretz". Archived from the original on 22 April 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  38. ^ מדזיני, רונן (15 August 2010). "עשור אחרי: שכונת גילה נפרדת מחומות הבטון". Ynet. Archived from the original on 28 June 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  39. ^ Fisher, Ian (20 June 2002). "MIDEAST TURMOIL: THE MOOD; In Jerusalem, Despair and Determination". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 27 May 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2018.

External links

31°43′53″N 35°11′11″E / 31.73139°N 35.18639°E / 31.73139; 35.18639