Nazareth Illit

Nazareth Illit
  • נָצְרַת עִלִּית
  • الناصرة العليا

Nazareth Illit

Nazareth Illit
Coordinates: 32°43′N 35°20′E / 32.717°N 35.333°E / 32.717; 35.333Coordinates: 32°43′N 35°20′E / 32.717°N 35.333°E / 32.717; 35.333
District Northern
Founded 1957
  Type City (from 1974)
  Mayor Ronen Plot
  Total 32,521 dunams (32.521 km2 or 12.556 sq mi)
Population (2015)[1]
  Total 40,198
Name meaning Upper Nazareth

Nazareth Illit (Hebrew: נָצְרַת עִלִּית, Arabic: الناصرة العليا, lit. Upper Nazareth) is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Founded in 1957, it was planned as a Jewish town overlooking the Arab city of Nazareth and the Jezreel Valley.[2] In 2015 it had a population of 40,198.


View of Jezreel Valley from Nazareth Illit

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 municipal elections in 1954, in which the Israel communist party Maki became the largest faction, were a source of concern.[3]

A parcel of 1,200 dunams of land, about half within the municipal boundaries of Nazareth, was expropriated 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.[4]

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 Upper Nazareth was meant to "overpower Nazareth numerically, economically, and politically."[5]

Initially the settlement was referred to as the "Jewish neighborhood" of Nazareth, then as Kiryat Natzeret. The name Nazareth Illit was adopted in 1958. In 1961, Nazareth Illit was recognized as a municipal local council.[6]


Nazareth Illit city hall

According to CBS, in 2001 the ethnic and religious makeup of the city was 91.0% Jewish and other non-Arabs, 9.0% Arab (2.3% Muslim and 6.7% Christian). In the 1990s, Upper Nazareth 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.[2] In 2012, Arabs accounted for 17 percent of the city's 40,000 residents.[7]


Strauss-Elite factory in Nazareth Illit

The Strauss-Elite chocolate factory in the city's industrial zone employs over 600 workers.[8]


In 2010, the city had 12 elementary schools and two high schools. A new high school for religious boys opened that year and the Yeshivat Hesder of Maalot, which combines army service with Torah study, planned to open a branch there. Nazareth Illit also has a regional engineering college.[9]


Nazareth Illit's 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 Britain 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.


Green Stadium

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.[9] 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 basketball team, Hapoel Nazareth Illit, plays in the IBA fourth tier, Liga Alef (Basketball).

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

Nazareth Illit is twinned with:

Notable residents


  1. "List of localities, in Alphabetical order" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  2. 1 2 A City with Character, Jerusalem Post
  3. 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.
  4. Forman, p349.
  5. Forman, p350.
  6. Forman, p351.
  7. Our Canadian friend, The Jerusalem Post
  8. Nazeret Illit
  9. 1 2 About Nazeret Illit
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