city in Israel, on the coastal plain southeast of Tel Aviv-Yafo. Ramla is the only city founded by the Arabs in Palestine. It was established in 716 by the caliph Sulayman ibn 'Abd al-Malik (reigned 715-717), who made it the administrative capital of Palestine, replacing nearby Lod (Lydda). He built marketplaces, fortifications, and, above all, the White Mosque (Al-Jami' al-Abyad). Only ruins of these remain, but the minaret of the White Mosque, the so-called White Tower, 89 feet (27 m) tall, added by the Mamluk sultan Baybars (reigned 1260-77), still stands. During the First Crusade (1096-99), the city was captured and fortified by the crusaders, who called it Rames. The fortifications were destroyed by Saladin when he took the city from the crusaders in 1187. From the 14th century on, Ramla developed as a trade centre; though an Arab city, it contained a Jewish community until the Arab-Jewish disturbances of 1936-39.
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