(Israel Twitter)-Ashdod,אַשְׁדּוֹד,اشدود, إسدود Isdud), is the fifth-largest city in Israel, located in the Southern District of the country, on the Mediterranean coast, located 32 kilometres (20 mi) south of Tel Aviv and 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Ashkelon and 53 kilometres (33 mi) west of Jerusalem. Ashdod is an important regional industrial center. The Port of Ashdod is Israel's largest port accounting for 60% of the country's imported goods.
The first documented settlement in Ashdod dates to the Canaanite culture of 17th century BC, making the city one of the oldest in the world. Ashdod is mentioned 13 times in the Bible. During its history the city was settled by Philistines, Israelites, Byzantines, Crusaders and Arabs.
The modern city of Ashdod city was built outside the historic settlement site, on virgin sands. The development followed a main development plan. The planners divided the city into seventeen neighborhoods of ten to fifteen thousand people. Wide avenues between the neighborhoods make traffic flow relatively freely inside the city. Each neighborhood has access to its own commercial center, urban park, and health and education infrastructure. The original plan also called for a business and administrative center, built in the mid-1990s, when the city population grew rapidly more than doubling in ten years.
Three industrial zones were placed adjacent to the port in the northern part of the city, taking into account the prevailing southern winds which take air pollution away from the city. The plan had its problems, however, including asymmetric growth of upscale and poorer neighborhoods and the long-time lack of a main business and administrative center.
Historically each neighborhood of Ashdod had its own commercial center. In 1990, however, when the mall shopping culture developed in Israel, the main commercial activity in Ashdod moved to malls. The first mall to open in Ashdod was the Forum Center in the industrial zone. Restaurants, bars and night clubs were opened in the area. Today, the Forum center is mainly used for offices. Lev Ashdod Mall, which opened in 1993, has been enlarged and upgraded since then. Ashdod Mall, billed at the time as the city's largest shopping mall, has also been redesigned since its opening in 1995. City Mall was opened in a combined building with the central bus station in 1996, following the examples of the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. The Sea Mall, a three-story mall near the government offices, has a climbing wall and movie theater. Star Center doubled in size in 2007.