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Nazareth

Nazareth is the capital of, and largest city in, the North District of Israel. As of 2006, Nazareth had an estimated population of 64,800.

During 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the city, despite having a majority Arab population, was easily captured by Israeli troops. Arab town leaders agreed to a formal surrender document in exchange for promises for Israeli officers, including Ben Dunkelman who led the operation, that no harm would come to either the town or the civilian population of the town. Hours later Haim Laskov (who would later in life become Israeli Chief of Staff) ordered Dunkelman to expel all Arab civilians from the town, but Dunkelman refused the order. Laskov then tried to get the order sanctioned by higher authority, but David Ben-Gurion vetoed it. As a result of these events, the Arab population remained in the Nazareth, and today the city is home to a large number of Israel's Arab citizens, and acts as the effective capital for Israeli Arabs.

According to the New Testament, Jesus spent his childhood in Nazareth. The city is thus an important location for Christian pilgrimage, and there are many sites in Nazareth with biblical associations. These include:

- The Church of the Annunciation - The largest Christian building in the Middle East, and in Roman Catholic tradition, the site where the Archangel Gabriel announced the future birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.

- St. Gabriel's Church - According to East Orthodox tradition, the site of the annunciation

- The Synagogue Church - The traditional location of the synagogue where Jesus taught.

- Church of St. Joseph's Carpentry - The traditional location of Joseph's workshop.

- Mensa Christi Church - The traditional location where Jesus dined with the Apostles after the Resurrection.

By S. Tanna. First published at http://www.travelguide2israel.com/c1_cities_nazareth.php

For more information about Israel, please visit http://www.travelguide2israel.com/

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