• Issue: August 1983
  • Designer: M. Pereg
  • Stamp size: 51.4 x 20 mm
  • Plate no.: 65
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Photolithography

Afula, urban centre of the Jezreel Valley, stands at an important junction about 35 kilometres south-east of Haifa. Beautifully situated in the luscious Plain of Jezreel at the foot of Givat Hamoreh which rises 51 5 meters above sea level, it forms a natural link between the coastal lowlands and the Samarian hills, and between Lower Galilee and the Jordan Valley. It is also the hub of a road network spreading like spokes from a wheel north-west to Haifa; north to Nazareth; north-east to Tiberias; south-east to Beth Shean; south to Nablus and south-west to Megiddo and Hadera.

Despite its remarkable strategic location, Afula never fulfilled its early promise of developing into a prosperous town. First marked on the map as a railway station built by the Turks in 1905 it was part of the track laid connecting Haifa to Beth Shean - a line shut down in 1948. From Afula a second branch, closed in 1936, ran south to Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem. This 80-year-old structure - the oldest in Afula - became the focus of a military base for Turkish and German troops in World War I.

Afulas modern history starts in 1925 when, encouraged by the British Mandatory authorities, the American Zion Commonwealth settled a number of families on the site of an Arab village called el-Fula, from which the present-day town takes its name. Great hopes were raised, envisaging the townlet as an industrial and market centre for the kibbutzim and moshavim in the vicinity, but for many reasons this dream never materialized.

The surrounding settlements tended to make themselves, as far as possible, independent, while for large-scale purchases or marketing, it was more satisfactory to deal with Haifa, barely 40 minutes drive away. Another crucial question was that of land ownership in areas earmarked for development. Plots were small, many were subdivided or owned by absentee landlords - a fact which limited planning, and as a result the total population of Afula at the outbreak of the War of Independence was under 2,500.

However, with the establishment of the State, Afula progressed. New immigrants streamed in, then in 1954 when Upper Afula was founded on the slopes of Givat Hamoreh, an impetus was given both to settlement and to trade and industry. Commercial centres were set up and factories initiated, including those for textile and plastic manufacture.

Most of Afula's 20,000 citizens earn their livelihood by working on farms and in factories, and by the provision of services in the administrative offices; in schools; in clinics and in the 400-bed District Hospital of Kupat Holim. Afula's emblem, divided diagonally into two, shows terraced houses and trees beneath gentle hills, while below is an ear of corn and a sickle. A hammer and anvil symbolize industry. Little remains visible of Afula's ancient history, but digs made in 1926 and 1931 unearthed remnants of a 4000 BCE community with pottery typical of the time. Later excavations on the same spot in 1950 and 1951 revealed graves and other evidence of habitation of the early, middle and late Bronze Age - about 3000 to 1200 BCE - as well as of the Iron Age, around 1000 BCE. Scant evidence of late Roman and early Byzantine presence of the second to the fourth centuries CE was found, as well as traces of a Crusader castle not far off. Then comes a long gap, and only centuries later - in 1799 - chronicles relate how Napoleon's army defeated the Turks near AfuIa.

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