Kiryat Gat קִרְיַת גַּת

Kiryat Gat in the Southern District of Israel. It is 56 km south of Tel Aviv, 43 km north of Beersheba and 68 km from Jerusalem. In 2015 it had a population of 51,483. Kiryat Gat is named after Gath which was one of the five major Philistine cities. In Hebrew, ‘gat’ means ‘winepress’. In the 1950s, archaeologists found ruins of Tel Erani nearby which were mistaken for the Philistine city of Gath. The location most favored for Gath now is Tel es-Safi which is thirteen kilometers northeast.

Kiryat Gat was founded in 1954. From 1958 to 1969 the population grew from 4,400 inhabitants to 17,000 in 1969, mostly Jewish immigrants from North Africa. The economy was initially based on processing the agricultural produce of the Lachish region, such as cotton and wool. In December 1972, Kiryat Gat’s municipal status was declared a city.

During the 1990s, the mass immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel brought many new residents to the town and its population grew to 42,500 by 1995. The development of the Rabin industrial zone on the eastern edge of the city, and the opening of Highway 6 has greatly improved the economy.