Neve Yaakov

Neve Yaakov also Neve Ya’aqov, (Hebrewנווה יעקב‎; lit. Jacob’s Oasis), is an Israeli settlement[1] and neighborhood[2] located in East Jerusalem,[3][4][5][6][7] north of Pisgat Ze’ev and south of al-Ram. Established in 1924 during the period of the British Mandate, it was depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The area was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War and a new neighborhood was built nearby, at which time international opposition to its legitimacy began.[8] The international community considers Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this,[9] defining it as a neighborhood within the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Municipality, which provides all services.[10] The population of Neve Yaakov is 30,000. Neve Yaakov is one of Jerusalem’s Ring Neighborhoods.[11]

Neve Yaakov was established in 1924 on a 65 dunams (0.065 km2; 0.025 sq mi)[12] parcel of land purchased from the Arabs of Beit Hanina by members of the American Mizrachi movement.[13] HaKfar HaIvri Neve Yaakov (The Jewish Village of Neve Yaakov) was named for the leader of the movement, Rabbi Yitzchak Yaacov Reines (1839–1915).[14] It was an hour’s walk to the Old City, where most Jews of Jerusalem lived at the time. Until they were abandoned in 1948, Neve Yaakov and Atarot were the only Jewish settlements north of the Old City.[13]

The first houses were ready for occupancy in Av (summer) 1925. The village’s rav, Rabbi Yitzchak Avigdor Orenstein, ruled that new homeowners could move into their homes even during The Nine Days, saying that the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel overrode the laws of the mourning period. Rabbi Orenstein himself moved into his new house during The Nine Days, while village administrator Dov Brinker moved his furniture and belongings into his new house on Tisha B’Av itself.[12]

The village, home to 150 families, suffered from financial problems and lack of a regular water supply. After years of hauling water in buckets from a well six kilometers away, the village received a government water pipeline in 1935. Electricity was hooked up in 1939.[13]

After years of peaceful co-existence with the surrounding Arab villagers, from whom they purchased vegetables, fruit and eggs, the inhabitants of Neve Yaakov were attacked during the 1929 Palestine riots, and many families returned to the Old City. According to a census conducted in 1931 by the British Mandate authorities, Neve Yaakov had a population of 101 inhabitants, in 20 houses.[15] In the course of the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine, shots were heard from the Arab side almost every night. The British Mandate government supplied a cache of arms to defend Neve Yaakov, and members of the Zionist Haganah pre-state army moved in to guard the village and its water pipeline.[13]

During the peaceful years from 1940 to 1947, the village operated a school that accepted students from all over the country. Children’s summer camps and convalescent facilities were opened, taking advantage of the rural atmosphere and fresh air. Veteran Jerusalem residents remember hiking to Neve Yaakov to buy fresh milk from dairy farmers.[13]

When the Jordanian Arab Legion advanced toward Jerusalem from the north during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Neve Yaakov and Atarot were abandoned in the wake of advance warning that they were about to be attacked.[16][17] Atarot was abandoned on May 17, 1948.[17] The region was occupied by the Jordanians until the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel captured the Old City and its surroundings.[13]

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