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{{about|the city in Gaza Strip|the part of the city in North Sinai|Rafah, Egypt}}

Palestine grid>Palestine grid| grid_position = 77/78| subdivision_type = State| subdivision_name = State of PalestineGovernorates of the Palestinian National Authority>GovernorateRafah Governorate>Rafah| established_title = Founded| established_date = | government_footnotes = List of cities in Palestinian Authority areas>City | leader_title = Head of Municipality| leader_name = Sa'ad Zoarub| unit_pref = dunam| area_footnotes = | area_total_km2 = | area_total_dunam = | elevation_footnotes = | elevation_m = | elevation_min_m = | elevation_max_m = PUBLISHER=, 15 February 2018, | population_total = 152,950| population_as_of = 2014| population_note = | population_density_km2 = auto| website = | footnotes = }}Rafah ( – Rafaḥ) is a Palestinian city and refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. It is the district capital of the Rafah Governorate, located {{convert|30|km|mi|sp=us}} south of Gaza City. Rafah's population of 152,950 (2014) is overwhelmingly made up of Palestinian refugees. Rafah camp and Tall as-Sultan camp form separate localities.When Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1982, Rafah was split into a Gazan part and an Egyptian part, dividing families, separated by barbed-wire barriers. The core of the city was destroyed by Israelweblink" title="">Razing Rafah — Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip, pp. 27–28 and 52–66 (PDF text version) on weblink" title="https:/-/">weblink, weblink" title="">Summary:. The report on refworld:. Human Rights Watch (HRW), October 2004Supplementary Appeal for Rafah. UNWRA, May 2004PCHR, Uprooting Palestinian Trees And Leveling Agricultural Land – The tenth Report on Israeli Land Sweeping and Demolition of Palestinian Buildings and Facilities in the Gaza Strip 1 April 2003 – 30 April 2004 On weblink and EgyptEgyptian military doubling buffer zone with Gaza , demolishing nearly 1,220 more homes. Associated Pres, 8 January 2015“Look for Another Homeland”. Human Rights Watch, September 2015 to create a large buffer zone.Rafah is the site of the Rafah Border Crossing, the sole crossing point between Egypt and the State of Palestine. Gaza's only airport, Yasser Arafat International Airport, was located just south of the city. The airport operated from 1998 to 2001, until it was bombed and bulldozed by the Israeli military (IDF) after the killing of Israeli soldiers by members of Hamas.


Over the ages it has been known as "Robihwa" by the ancient Egyptians, "Rafihu" by the Assyrians, "Ῥαφία, Rhaphia"Polybii Historiae [5,80]. by the Greeks, "Raphia" by Romans, רפיח "Rafiaḥ" by the Israelites, "Rafh" by the Arab Caliphate. The transliteration of the Hebrew name, "Rafiah", is used in modern English alongside "Rafah"WEB,weblink Rafīah: Gaza Strip; name, map, geographic coordinates,, 2014-08-11, {{citation|last=Zaki|first=Chehab|year=2007|title=Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of Militants, Martyrs and Spies|publisher=I.B.Tauris|page=180|url=|accessdate=2015-09-02}}


The Ottoman–British agreement of 1 October 1906 established a boundary between Ottoman ruled Palestine and British ruled Egypt, from Taba to Rafah. After World War I Palestine was also under British control, but the Egypt-Palestine Boundary was maintained to control movement of the local Bedouin. From the mid-1930s the British enhanced the border control and Rafah evolved as a small boundary town which functioned as a trade and services centre for the semi-settled Beduin population.The Evolution of the Egypt-Israel Boundary: From Colonial Foundations to Peaceful Borders, pp. 3, 9, 18. Nurit Kliot, Boundary and Territory Briefing, Volume 1 Number 8. At Google books During the Second World War it became an important British base.Following the Armistice Agreement of 24 February 1949, Rafah was located in Egypt-occupied Gaza and consequently, a Gaza–Egypt border did no longer exist. Rafah could grow without any consideration being taken of the old 1906 international boundary. In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel conquered the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt and all of the city now was under Israeli occupation.In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty that returned the Sinai, which borders the Gaza Strip, to Egyptian control. In the Peace Treaty, the re-created Gaza–Egypt border was drawn across the city of Rafah. Rafah was divided into an Egyptian and a Palestinian part, splitting up families, separated by barbed-wire barriers. Families were separated, property was divided and many houses and orchards were cut across and destroyed by the new boundary, bulldozed, allegedly for security reasons. Rafah became one of the three border points between Egypt and Israel.weblink" title="">Cinderella in Rafah. Al-Ahram, Issue No. 761, 22–28 September 2005


In 1922, Rafah's population was 599, which increased to 2,220 in 1945. In 1982, the total population was approximately 10,800.Welcome to Rafah Palestine Remembered.In the 1997 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) census, Rafah and its adjacent camp had a combined population of 91,181, Tall as-Sultan was listed with a further 17,141.WEB,weblink Palestinian Population by Locality, Sex and Age Groups in Years, 15 February 2018, Refugees made up 80.3% of the entire population.Palestinian Population by Locality and Refugee Status {{webarchive|url= |date=2008-11-18 }}. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). In the 1997 census, Rafah's (together with Rafah camp) gender distribution was 50.5% male and 49.5% female.Palestinian Population by Locality, Sex and Age Groups in Years {{webarchive|url= |date=2008-06-14 }} Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.In the 2006 PCBS estimate, Rafah city had a population of 71,003,WEB,weblink PCBS] [Palestinian Central Bureau of Statisctics (PCBS) Projected Mid-Year Population for Rafah Governorate by Locality 2004–2006, 15 February 2018, Rafah camp and Tall as-Sultan form separate localities for census purposes, having populations of 59,983 and 24,418, respectively.


(File:Gaza Strip map2.svg|thumb|right|Rafah is at the bottom of map.)Rafah has a history stretching back thousands of years. It was first recorded in an inscription of Egyptian Pharaoh Seti I, from 1303 BCE as Rph, and as the first stop on Pharaoh Shoshenq I's campaign to the Levant in 925 BC. In 720 BCE it was the site of the Assyrian king Sargon II's victory over the Egyptians, and in 217 BC the Battle of Raphia was fought between the victorious Ptolemy IV and Antiochus III.Raphia – (Rafah) Studium Biblicum Franciscanum – Jerusalem. (It is said to be one of the largest battles ever fought in the Levant, with over a hundred thousand soldiers and hundreds of elephants).The town was conquered by Alexander Yannai and held by the Hasmoneans until it was rebuilt in the time of Pompey and Gabinius; the latter seems to have done the actual work of restoration for the era of the town dates from 57 BCE. Rafah is mentioned in Strabo (16, 2, 31), the Antonine Itinerary, and is depicted on the Map of Madaba.During the Byzantine period, it was a diocese,Joseph Bingham, Origines Ecclesiasticae; Or the Antiquities of the Christian Church and Other Works: In Nine Volumes, Volume 3(Straker, 1843) p 61. and Byzantine ceramics and coins have been found there.Dauphin, 1998, p. 953 It was represented at the Council of Ephesus 431AD but remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic ChurchTadrous Y. Malaty, Introduction to the Coptic Orthodox Church OrthodoxEbooks,1993) page 13. but a small Greek Orthodox presence exists.

Arab and Mamluk rule

Rafah was an important trading city during the early Arab period, and one of the towns captured by the Rashidun army under general 'Amr ibn al-'As in 635‑Biladhuri quoted in le Strange, 1890, p. xix. Al-Biladhuri lists the cities captured by Amr ibn al-'As as Ghazzah (Gaza), Sebastiya (Sebastia), Nabulus, Amwas (Imwas), Kaisariyya (Caesarea), Yibna, Ludd (Lydda), Rafh (Rafah), Bayt Jibrin, and Yaffa (Jaffa). Cited in le Strange, 1890, p. 28 Under the Umayyads and Abbasids, Rafah was the southernmost border of Jund Filastin ("District of Palestine"). According to Arab geographer al‑Ya'qubi, it was the last town in the Province of Syria and on the road from Ramla to Egypt.le Strange, 1890, p. 517A Jewish community settled in the city in the 9th and 10th centuries and again in the 12th, although in the 11th century it suffered a decline and in 1080 they migrated to Ashkelon. A Samaritan community also lived there during this period. Like most cities of southern Palestine, ancient Rafah had a landing place on the coast (now Tell Rafah), while the main city was inland.In 1226, Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi writes of Rafah's former importance in the early Arab period, saying it was "of old a flourishing town, with a market, and a mosque, and hostelries". However, he goes on to say that in its current state, Rafah was in ruins, but was an Ayyubid postal station on the road to Egypt after nearby Deir al‑Balah.

Ottoman and Egyptian period

Rafah appeared in the 1596 Ottoman tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Gaza of the Liwa of Gazza. It had a population of 15 households, all Muslim, who paid taxes on wheat, barley, summer crops, occasional revenues, goats and/or bee hives.Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 150In 1799, the Revolutionary Army of France commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte passed through Rafah during the invasion of Egypt and Syria.Dwyer, 2007, p. 415Rafah was the boundary between the provinces of Egypt and Syria. In 1832, the area came under Egyptian occupation of Muhammad Ali, which lasted until 1840.The French explorer Victor Guérin, who visited in May 1863, noted two pillars of granite which the locals called Bab el Medinet, meaning "The Gate of the town".Guérin, 1869, pp. 233-35 In 1881, Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria wrote: "Fragments of gray granite pillars, still standing, are here to be met with about the road, the fields, and the sand, and we saw one lying on the ground half buried... The pillars are the remains of an ancient temple, Raphia, and are of special importance in the eyes of the Arabs, who call them Rafah, as they mark the boundary between Egypt and Syria."Ludwig Salvator, Archduke of Austria, 1881, p. 54

British mandate era

In 1917, the British army captured Rafah, and used it as a base for their attack on Gaza. The presence of the army bases was an economic draw that brought people back to the city.In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Rafah had a population of 599 inhabitants, all Muslim,Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Gaza, p. 8 increasing in the 1931 census to 1,423, still all Muslims, in 228 houses.Mills, 1932, p. 6(File:Rafah 1931.jpg|thumb|Rafah 1931 1:20,000)In the 1945 statistics Rafah had a population of 2,220, all Muslims,Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 32 with 40,579 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey.Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 46 Of this, 275 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 24,173 used for cereals,Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 88 while 16,131 dunams were un-cultivable land.Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 138


File:14_-_Destroyed_mosque.jpg|thumb|right|Mosque in Rafah, destroyed during the Gaza War ]]After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the refugee camps were established. In the 1956 war involving Israel, Britain, France, and Egypt, 111 people, including 103 refugees, were killed by the Israeli army in the Palestinian refugee camp of Rafah, during the Rafah massacre. The United Nations was unable to determine the circumstances surrounding the deaths.WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2013-08-24, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-11-04, WEB,weblink Rafah (articles/books/maps/cartoons/photographs/video or audio clips),, 15 February 2018, During the 1967 Six-Day War, the Israel Defense Forces captured Rafah with the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, the population was about 55,000, of whom only 11,000 lived in Rafah itself.

After 1967

In the summer of 1971, the IDF, under General Ariel Sharon (then head of the IDF southern command), destroyed approximately 500 houses in the refugee camps of Rafah in order to create patrol roads for Israeli forces. These demolitions displaced nearly 4,000 people.UN Doc {{webarchive|url= |date=2007-02-12 }} A/8389 of 5 October 1971 (h) The continued transfer of the population of the occupied territories to other areas within the occupied territories. Such transfers of population have occurred in the case of several villages that were systematically destroyed in 1967: the population of these villages was either expelled or forced to live elsewhere in the occupied territories. The same practice has been followed in occupied Jerusalem. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post of 17 May 1971, Mr. Teddy Kollek, Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem, stated that 4,000 Arabs had been evacuated from Jerusalem. Likewise, in the case of Gaza, according to reports appearing in several newspapers and in letters addressed by Governments, several thousands of persons were displaced from the three major refugee camps in Gaza. Official Israeli sources have stated that these transfers of population were necessitated by new security measures, such as the construction of wider roads inside the camps in order to facilitate patrolling and the maintenance of law and order in the camps. Most of the persons whose refugee accommodation was destroyed to permit of the construction of these roads were forced to leave for the West Bank and El Arish, while a few were said to have sought refuge with other families inside Gaza. The Special Committee considers that the transfers were unwarranted and that even if the construction of new roads was considered indispensable for the maintenance of law and order, the arbitrary transfer of population was unnecessary, unjustified and in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel established the Brazil and Canada housing projects to accommodate displaced Palestinians and to provide better conditions in the hopes of integrating the refugees into the general population and its standard of living;WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2007-04-16, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2006-09-14, Brazil is immediate south of Rafah, while Canada was just across the border in Sinai. Both were named because UN peacekeeping troops from those respective countries had maintained barracks in those locations. After the 1978 Camp David Accords mandated the repatriation of Canada project refugees to the Gaza Strip, the Tel al-Sultan project, northwest of Rafah, was built to accommodate them.Human Rights Watch. Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip. October 2004.In May 2004, the Israeli Government led by, yet Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon approved another mass demolition of homes in Rafah. Therefore, he obtained the nickname "the bulldozer".Razing Rafah, Map 2: Rafah Features. HRW, October 2004In September 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza strip but Rafah remained divided, with part of it on the Egyptian side of the border under Egyptian rule. It has been claimed that it was in order to cope with the division of the town, that smugglers have made tunnels under the border, connecting the two parts and permitting the smuggling of goods and persons.About Rafah {{webarchive|url= |date=2009-01-30}} Rafah Today.

Rafah Border Crossing

(File:Border between Israel and Egypt visible from space.jpg|thumbnail|The city of Rafah, split by the border into an Egyptian part and a Gazan part, is located at the center of the image.)Rafah is the site of the Rafah Border Crossing, the sole crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Formerly operated by Israeli military forces, control of the crossing was transferred to the Palestinian Authority in September 2005 as part of the larger Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. A European Union commission began monitoring the crossing in November 2005 amid Israeli security concerns, and in April 2006, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Presidential Guard assumed responsibility for the site on the Palestinian Authority side.Mitch Potter, Something that works: the Rafah crossing, The Toronto Star, May 21, 2006. On the Egyptian side, the responsibility is assumed by the 750 Border Guards allowed by an agreement of Egypt with Israel. The agreement was signed in November 2005 forced by US pressure, and specifies that it is under security requirements demanded by Israel.


Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot semi-arid (BSh).WEB,weblink Climate: Rafiah – Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table,, 2014-02-21, WEB,weblink Climate: Rafah – Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table,, 2014-02-21, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2014-02-23, {{Weather box|metric first=yes|single line=yes|location=Rafiah, Gaza Strip|Jan high C=17.4|Feb high C=18.1|Mar high C=20.5|Apr high C=23|May high C=25.8|Jun high C=28.3|Jul high C=29.6|Aug high C=30.5|Sep high C=29.1|Oct high C=27.6|Nov high C=23.8|Dec high C=19.4|Jan mean C=12.9|Feb mean C=13.6|Mar mean C=15.6|Apr mean C=18.1|May mean C=20.9|Jun mean C=23.6|Jul mean C=25.2|Aug mean C=26|Sep mean C=24.7|Oct mean C=22.6|Nov mean C=18.7|Dec mean C=14.8|Jan low C=8.4|Feb low C=9.1|Mar low C=10.8|Apr low C=13.3|May low C=16.1|Jun low C=19|Jul low C=20.9|Aug low C=21.6|Sep low C=20.3|Oct low C=17.6|Nov low C=13.7|Dec low C=10.2|Jan precipitation mm=48|Feb precipitation mm=36|Mar precipitation mm=27|Apr precipitation mm=6|May precipitation mm=4|Jun precipitation mm=0|Jul precipitation mm=0|Aug precipitation mm=0|Sep precipitation mm=0|Oct precipitation mm=8|Nov precipitation mm=39|Dec precipitation mm=53|source 1= (altitude: 45m)}}{{Weather box|metric first=yes|single line=yes|collapsed=yesRafah, Egypt>Rafah, North Sinai|Jan high C=17.2|Feb high C=18|Mar high C=20.3|Apr high C=22.9|May high C=25.8|Jun high C=28.2|Jul high C=29.6|Aug high C=30.5|Sep high C=29|Oct high C=27.4|Nov high C=23.7|Dec high C=19.3|Jan mean C=12.7|Feb mean C=13.5|Mar mean C=15.4|Apr mean C=18|May mean C=20.8|Jun mean C=23.5|Jul mean C=25.2|Aug mean C=25.9|Sep mean C=24.5|Oct mean C=22.4|Nov mean C=18.6|Dec mean C=14.7|Jan low C=8.2|Feb low C=9|Mar low C=10.6|Apr low C=13.2|May low C=15.9|Jun low C=18.8|Jul low C=20.8|Aug low C=21.4|Sep low C=20|Oct low C=17.4|Nov low C=13.5|Dec low C=10.1|Jan precipitation mm=49|Feb precipitation mm=37|Mar precipitation mm=28|Apr precipitation mm=6|May precipitation mm=4|Jun precipitation mm=0|Jul precipitation mm=0|Aug precipitation mm=0|Sep precipitation mm=0|Oct precipitation mm=8|Nov precipitation mm=39|Dec precipitation mm=54|source 1= (altitude: 78m)}}

See also




  • BOOK, The Caravan Route between Egypt and Syria, Ludwig Salvator, Archduke of Austria,weblink Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria, 1881, Chatto & Windus, London,
  • BOOK, Barron, J. B., Palestine: Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1922,weblink Government of Palestine, 1923,
  • BOOK, Dauphin, Claudine, La Palestine byzantine, Peuplement et Populations,weblink III : Catalogue, BAR International Series 726, 1998, Archeopress, Oxford, French, 0-860549-05-4,
  • BOOK, Dwyer, Philip, Napoleon -The Path To Power 1769-1799, 2007, Bloomsbury, 0747574901,
  • BOOK, Village Statistics, April, 1945,weblink Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics, 1945,
  • BOOK, Guérin, V., Victor Guérin, Description Géographique Historique et Archéologique de la Palestine,weblink 1: Judee, pt. 2, 1869, L'Imprimerie Nationale, Paris, French,
  • BOOK, Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine,weblink S., Hadawi, Sami Hadawi, 1970, Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center,
  • BOOK, Hütteroth, Wolf-Dieter, Kamal, Abdulfattah, Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century,weblink 1977, Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft, 3-920405-41-2,
  • BOOK, Mills, E., Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas,weblink Government of Palestine, Jerusalem, 1932,
  • BOOK, Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500,weblink G., Strange, le, Guy Le Strange, 1890, Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund,

External links

{{Cities in the Gaza Strip}}{{Rafah Governorate}}{{Palestinian refugee camps}}{{Authority control}}

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