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About the Galilee Panhandle

The Galilee Panhandle

The Galilee Panhandle (Hebrew: אצבע הגליל, Etzba HaGalil [lit. "Finger of the Galilee"]) is a panhandle along the Hula Valley in northern Israel that incorporates five municipal authorities. The largest towns in the Galilee panhandle include Metula and Kiryat Shmona. The Galilee Panhandle is a narrow strip of land running from the Israel-Lebanon border in the far north to an imaginary line above the Hula Valley in the south.



In 1920, the Sykes-Picot Treaty was amended to transfer areas of Jewish settlement from the French Mandate of Lebanon to the British Mandate for Palestine.From April 1924, the area came under British control. An agreement was reached which enabled cultivation on both sides of the border with taxes being distributed between the British and French mandate authorities.The boundary was problematic, strategically and politically, but harnessing water sources in this region was vital for the development of the country.

Kiryat Shmona
located on the western slopes of the Hula Valley, Kiryat Shmona is the largest city in the Galil Panhandle was founded in 1949, and its current mayor is Nissim Malka. The population of the city is 23,100 and the name of the city means 'City of Eight', in honor of the eight people, including Joseph Trumpeldor, who died in 1920 defending Tel Hai.

Today, about one-third of Kiryat Shmona's population are younger than 19, and the majority of its inhabitants are Jews, particularly of Moroccan descent. Located near the Israel-Lebanon border, Kiryat Shmona is Israel's northernmost city.

Kiryat Shmona is located in the Finger of the Galilee next to the Hula Valley, about 5 kilometres (3 miles) south and 2 km (1 mile) east of the Israel–Lebanon border. Its elevation is about 150 metres (492 feet) above sea level. Kiryat Shmona is located above the Dead Sea Transform faultline, and as a result, is one of the cities in Israel most at risk to earthquakes (along with Safed, Beit She'an, Tiberias, and Eilat).

In 2001 the ethnic makeup of the city was 97.9% Jewish and other non-Arabs, without a significant Arab population. In 2001 there were 121 immigrant settlers. The Jewish population of the town is largely of Sephardi and Mizrahi heritage, and many are industrial workers employed in local small industry and in neighboring kibbutzim.

According to Central Bureau of Statistics (Israel), in 2001 there were 10,800 males and 10,700 females. The population of the city was spread out with 33.5% 19 years of age or younger, 19.8% between 20 and 29, 19.3% between 30 and 44, 15.3% from 45 to 59, 3.5% from 60 to 64, and 8.5% 65 years of age or older. The population growth rate in 2001 was 1.8%.

Meytav, Israel's largest technology incubator, is based in Kiryat Shmona. Pictured above is one of their company labs in 2007. As of 2000, in the city there were 8,303 salaried workers and 467 are self-employed. The mean monthly wage in 2000 for a salaried worker in the city is 4,306 shekels, a real change of 4.6% over the course of 2000. Salaried males have a mean monthly wage of 5,443 shekels (a real change of 7.1%) versus 3,065 shekels for females (a real change of −2.2%). The mean income for the self-employed is 6,769. There are 564 people who receive unemployment benefits and 1,655 people who receive an income guarantee.

Kiryat Shmona has diverse economic activities among its inhabitants. The town's economy is based on both light industry, involving consumer-oriented products such as communications, information technology, and electronics as well as agriculture on the surrounding lands and tourism.

The town has a cable car link with Manara above in the Naftali mountain range and also is home to an activity center and toboggan run located in the south of the town.

In the residential area there is an urban natural space called Park HaZahav. Zahav means ‘gold’ in Hebrew; the park is named after the stream running through it - Ein Zahav Stream – whose source is Ein Zahav ('ein' means spring). Park HaZahav covers 11 hectares in the middle of the city. It comprises many diverse natural resources. In addition to intensive activity areas designated for leisure and play, and open to all, the park contains a diverse, protected, natural area comprising Ein Zahav Stream and HaTachanot Stream (Tachanot refers to two water mills [tachana=mill] which were active along this stream in the past), which flow through the middle of the park. These streams have created different aquatic habitats, including shallow sections, rapids, deep sections and pools that support diverse riparian vegetation that has developed with time into a riparian forest. This isn't common in Israel. The park has a trail that goes through the forest and along the stream. Included in the park are different gardening initiatives by local volunteers, a picnic area, and a playground. The park is used for educational purposes by the community.

According to CBS, there are 12 schools and 4,339 students in the city. They are spread out as 9 elementary schools and 2,355 elementary school students, and 6 high schools and 1,984 high school students. 49.3% of 12th grade students were entitled to a matriculation certificate in 2001.

The Tel-Hai Academic college is a college located near Kibbutz Kfar Giladi and north of Kiryat Shmona. The college offers academic and continuing education programs for approximately 4,500 students, 70 percent of whom come from outside the Galilee. Minorities comprise about 10 percent of the student body. The college offers degrees in life sciences, social sciences, computer science and the humanities. (do link to tel-Hai)

Kiryat Shmona is the smallest city in Israel with a top flight football club, Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona. Formed by a merger of Hapoel Kiryat Shmona and Maccabi Kiryat Shmona in 2000, the club won promotion to the top division for the first time at the end of the 2006–07 season, and won the Israeli Premier League Championship in 2011-2012.

Tennis is also part of the Kiryat Shmona sport scene. The town is home to one of the 14 Israel Tennis Centers (ITC). These Centers throughout Israel teach children life skills through tennis. The Centers are primarily funded through donations. The Israel Children's Centers in the United States, and the Canada Israel Children's Centres are largely responsible for the funding of the Tennis Centers, which strive to never turn a child away due to financial need.