Jaffa (jăfˈə, yäˈfä) [key], Heb. Yafo, part of Tel Aviv, W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Originally a Phoenician city, Jaffa has been historically important largely because of its port (which was closed in 1965, when the port of Ashdod was completed). It was captured by Egypt in 1472 B.C. and made a provincial capital. In 701 B.C. the city was besieged by Sennacherib, king of Assyria. It was often held by Philistia, and not until after the Captivity in Babylon (6th cent. B.C.) did it become Hebrew territory. Alexander the Great took Jaffa in the late 4th cent. B.C. The city changed hands frequently in the fighting between the Maccabees and the Syrians (2d and 1st cent. B.C.) and was destroyed by Vespasian in A.D. 68. The rebuilt city of Jaffa was conquered by the Arabs in 636. The Crusaders took it in 1126, Saladin recaptured it in 1187, and Richard I retook the city in 1191. In 1196 the Arabs again captured Jaffa, and in the 16th cent. the city, then in decline, was annexed by the Ottoman Empire. In the late 17th cent. Jaffa began to develop again as a seaport. It was captured by Napoleon in 1799. In World War I British troops took Jaffa, which became part of the British-administered Palestine mandate (1922–48). In 1947 and 1948 there was sharp fighting between Jaffa, which was largely inhabited by Arabs, and the adjoining Jewish city of Tel Aviv. On the day (May 14, 1948) that the state of Israel was proclaimed, the Arabs in Jaffa surrendered and were joined with Jews in a religiously mixed city. Jaffa has an old fishing harbor, modern boat docks, and a tourism center. The city is noted for its export of oranges. The usual Bible spelling is Joppa.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.