Ashkelon is Israel’s most westerly city, and Afridar is its most westerly
quarter. The city itself goes back to antiquity. It has been continuously
inhabited for thousands of years, with the exception of the period between 1270
The Crusader city and citadel were destroyed by the Mameluke
Sultan Baybars as part of his policy to eradicate the Crusader presence by
capturing the city of Acre and all Crusader strong points. The city was rebuilt
by the Turks in the late 16th century.
The modern Israeli city of
Ashkelon came into existence after the original 11,000 Arab inhabitants of what
was then called Al Majdal fled to Gaza.
While part of Ashkelon, Afridar
has a history of its own closely linked to the history of Anglo settlement in
Afridar has the distinction of having two firsts. It was
both the first modern neighborhood of Ashkelon and the first “Anglo-Saxon”
settlement – and, up to now, the only one in Israel.
It was founded in
1951 by the Zionist Federation of South Africa solely for South African
settlers. This is reflected in its name, which is made up of the first four
letters of “Africa” and the first three letters of darom
, meaning “south” in
Within the original area of 1950s Afridar live approximately
15,000 souls. Today, the South African element of the population is greatly
diluted, but the neighborhood is still Ashkelon’s most high-end residential
area. The small English-speaking community includes South Africans, Britons,
Americans, Canadians and Australians.
Despite its size, the English
Speakers of Ashkelon is active socially and culturally, organizing cheese and
wine evenings, a book club, a monthly movie night, and lecture series, including
a weekly Torah lesson.
According to secretary Vicky Savits, there are
approximately 500 “Anglo” families in all of Ashkelon. One of the organization’s
aims, she told Metro
, is to help newcomers from English-speaking countries
“settle in and acclimatize themselves to their new environment.”
was founded, Afridar was planned to be as much as possible a garden city in the
South African mold, with an abundance of green public spaces and single-family
homes with large private gardens. In addition, it was near the sea and its sandy
Sixty years on, the original area of Afridar retains many of
Yuval Atia, general manager of the Mivnim
Venetivim construction and development company, told Metro
“It is true that
there are some high-rise buildings – we ourselves are building a complex of six
nine-story tower blocks opposite the sea; but the vast majority of residents in
the “Afridar core” – approximately 80 percent of them – live in single-family
Afridar proper can be described as the area between Rehov
Hatayasim in the west; Park Vedeshe, a public park in the east; the Eshkol
quarter in the south, and the area called Barnea in the north.
ONE OF the
reasons Afridar, located in the center of a large city, has kept its rural
character is the stringent municipal zoning laws. There are very few apartment
blocks, and no more are envisaged. The only high-rise planned for the future is,
as mentioned above, the swath of residential towers in the western promontory of
Afridar linking Rehov Hatayasim to the marina.
Most of historic Afridar’s
single-family dwellings sit on what in Israel are considered large plots of
land. The plots sold to the South African “founding fathers” measured
from 700 to 800 square meters on average.
The original single-family
homes had mostly redtiled roofs, but not many of these remain.
people who bought these old homes, constructed in the Fifties, tore them down
and built modern homes in their place. In many cases, the large plot was divided
into two small ones, and two houses now stand where before there was only
Asi Tamir, proprietor of Remax Energy Ashkelon, is very upbeat about
real estate in Afridar.
“Investment opportunities are excellent because
prices are set to rise,” he says. “There are practically no plots available, and
since many affluent Ashkelon residents want a single-family home, prices may
well rise in the future over and above the expected average rise in real-estate
prices in Ashkelon as a whole.”
Real-estate prices in Afridar are very
reasonable by Israeli standards. An original, 60-year-old house on a large
original plot can cost approximately NIS 1.1 million to NIS 1.2m. A new house on
a plot of 375 sq.m. can cost from NIS 1m. to NIS 1.1m.
properties are hard to find. There are no new constructions to speak of, no
available plots, and homeowners in Afridar are not keen to sell.
easier to find apartments in those few new high-rise projects in Rehov
Hatayasim. An apartment in these blocks, with a sea view, is going from NIS
1.1m. for four rooms to NIS 1.2m. for a penthouse.
Recent deals in Afridar
An old, dilapidated house on a 670-square-meter plot sold for NIS 1.09 million.
The house has to be torn down.
• A three-room, 90-sq-m. garden apartment
with a 60-sq-m. private garden sold for NIS 745,000.
four-room, 108-sq.-m. house on a 430-sq.-m. plot sold for NIS 1
• A four-room, 110-sq-m. apartment with a 12-sq.-m. terrace sold
for NIS 1.08m. The apartment is still in the building stage, and will be
available only in 18 months.
• A relatively new and modern 128-sq-m.
house with fourrooms on a 400-sq.-m. plot sold for NIS 1.19m.
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