French Hill

For other uses, see French Hill (disambiguation).
French Hill

French Hill (Hebrew: הגבעה הצרפתית, HaGiv'a HaTzarfatit, Arabic: التلة الفرنسية, at-tel al-faransiya), also Giv'at Shapira (Hebrew: גִּבְעַת שַׁפִּירָא) is a neighborhood and Israeli settlement[1] in northern East Jerusalem. It is located on territory that has been occupied since the Six-Day War in 1967 and later unilaterally annexed by Israel under the Jerusalem Law in 1980 in a move not recognized internationally. The international community considers Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, such as French Hill, illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this.[2]


Jerusalem Light Rail
Red Line

Leah Goldberg
Neve Yaakov South
Mazal Shor
'Heil Ha-Avir (Air Force Street)
Sayeret Duchifat
Pisgat Ze'ev Center
Yekuti'el Adam
Beit Hanina
To depot
Giv'at HaMivtar
Ammunition Hill
Shimon HaTzadik
Shivtei Israel
Damascus Gate
Safra Square (City Hall)
Jaffa – Center
Mahane Yehuda Market
Central Station
Kiryat Moshe
Denia Square
Yefeh Nof
Mount Herzl
Shmaryahu Levin
Haaim Habib
Haddassa Medical School
Hadassah Medical Center

The source of the name French Hill is unclear. According to local legend, it was named after a British general, John French, 1st Earl of Ypres who is said to have had his headquarters on this hill. According to this legend there was a mistake with the translation to Hebrew that named the place after the country France (in Hebrew: Tzarfat). However, French never served in this region.[3] According to Israeli geographer Zev Vilnay, the land belonged to the Catholic Monastery of St. Anne, whose monks hailed mainly from France.[4] If the neighborhood had been named for General French, the correct name in Hebrew would have been Giv'at French.[5]


Under Jordanian rule, the area (Arabic: Karm el-Wiz)[6] was a military outpost.[7] According to Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi, a small number of Palestinians from Lifta moved to the area prior to 1967.[8] In 1969, construction began on a new residential neighborhood to create a land link between West Jerusalem and the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, which had been an Israeli enclave in Jordanian territory before the war.[9] The official name of the new neighborhood was Giv'at Shapira. Another section of French Hill, Tzameret HaBira, was populated mainly by American immigrants.[10]


French Hill has a population of 6,631. Giv'at Shapira has a population density of 10.9 persons per dunam (10,900 people/km²), while Tzameret HaBira is less crowded, with 4.7 persons per dunam (4,700 people/km²). The population is mostly Jewish, including a large number of immigrants from South America and the former Soviet Union.[11] In recent years, an increasing number of Arabs have been buying apartments in the neighborhood.[12] The neighborhood has also seen a large influx of Orthodox Jews (Haredim) in recent years. The ethnic mix is much more diverse than in most other Jewish areas in the city, partly due to the proximity of the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus.[12]

Schools and religious institutions

French Hill has 9 synagogues. One of them, Kehillat Ramot Zion (Hebrew: קהילת רמות ציון),[13] is a Conservative congregation. The first elementary school in Israel run by the Conservative movement, the Frankel School, was established in Givat Shapira.[14]

Arab-Israeli conflict

Main article: French Hill attacks

The French Hill intersection which connects northern Jerusalem to Maale Adumim and the Dead Sea has been the site of eleven Palestinian terror attacks. According to an article by the US News and World Report, "the busy thoroughfare, which divides the Jewish neighborhood of French Hill from the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat, is the most accessible corner in the city for a West Bank terrorist looking for a crowd of Israelis."[15] In 2004, members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade shot and killed George Khoury, an Israeli Arab economics student, while he was jogging in French Hill.


A salvage dig in French Hill in 1970-1971 unearthed late Hellenistic and Herodian tombs. One of the 13 ossuaries discovered was inscribed with the name "Yehosef (Joseph) ben Haggai."[6]

Notable residents


  2. "The Geneva Convention". BBC News. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  3. ,
  4. The Guide to Israel Zev Vilnay, Hamakor Press, Jerusalem, 1972, p.130
  5. BBC - h2g2 - French Hill, Jerusalem
  6. 1 2 , JSTOR 1356442 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. Walid Khalidi All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992
  9. Understanding Jerusalem - Middle East Quarterly
  10. Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem, 2002-2003. Jerusalem, Israel: Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. ISSN 0333-9831
  11. Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem, 2002-2003 Jerusalem, Israel: Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. ISSN 0333-9831
  12. 1 2 Love thy neighbor
  13. Kehillat Ramot Zion
  14. French Hill
  15. Jerusalem's Violent Crossroads
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Coordinates: 31°48′20.52″N 35°14′20.37″E / 31.8057000°N 35.2389917°E / 31.8057000; 35.2389917

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