Haifa hī´fä [key], city (1994 pop. 246,700), NW Israel, a port on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of Mt. Carmel. Haifa is the chief city of N Israel and the country's principal oil refining center. Along with Ashdod , Haifa is one of Israel's main ports and handles oceangoing vessels, including oil tankers. Industries include steel, shipbuilding, textiles, chemicals, high-tech electronics, and food processing. Haifa is known to have existed by the 3d cent. AD but was of little importance during early Muslim times. The Crusaders, who called it Caiffa or Caiphas, developed it commercially. Destroyed by Saladin in 1191, it began to revive in the late 18th cent. The city's main growth occurred in the 20th cent. with the development of its port. Haifa was contested by Jews and Arabs in the 1948–49 war because of its industrial importance. By the late 20th cent. the city's population was largely Jewish, although Muslims, Christians, and Druze continued to live in the area. Haifa was a target of Iraqi missiles during the Persian Gulf War and Hezbollah missiles launched from S Lebanon in 2006. Haifa Univ. and the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology; est. 1924) are there. Haifa is the world center of Baha'i and the site of the shrine of Bab and a Baha'i temple.
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