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Remains of Crusader fortress in Afula. Note the Roman sarcophagi as the top layer.

Afula is possibly the place Ophlah, mentioned in the lists of Thothmes III.<ref name=SWP40>Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 40</ref> Conder suggested that Afula was identical with Kirjath Ophlathah, a place inhabited by Samaritans in the 7th century.<ref>Conder, 1876, p. 196</ref>

Within the town of Afula, on the ancient mound or tell known as Tel 'Afula, remains of a fortress from the Crusader and Mamluk periods have been discovered. A fortified Crusader tower, 19 meters square, stands in the centre of Afulah. The lower four courses are made of rough boulders, while the top remaining layer is made of reused Roman sarcophagi. The wall is a total of 5,5 meters tall. Pottery remains indicate that it was occupied in the twelfth and thirteenth century.<ref>Pringle, 1997, p. 18</ref> For older finds from Tel 'Afula see the Archaeology paragraph.

In 1321, Afula was mentioned under the name of Afel by Marino Sanuto.<ref name=SWP41>Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 41</ref>

Ottoman era

A map by Pierre Jacotin from Napoleon's invasion of 1799 showed this place, named as Afouleh in a French transliteration of the Arabic.<ref>Karmon, 1960, p. 167.</ref>

In 1816, James Silk Buckingham passed by and described Affouli as being built on rising ground, and containing only a few dwellings. He noted several other nearby settlements in sight, all populated by Muslims.<ref>Buckingham, 1822, vol 2, p. 381</ref>

In 1838, Edward Robinson described both Afuleh and the adjacent El Fuleh as "deserted".<ref>Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, pp. 163, 181</ref> William McClure Thomson, in a book published in 1859, noted that Afuleh and the adjacent El Fuleh, were "both now deserted, though both were inhabited twenty-five years ago when I first passed this way." Thomson blamed their desertion on the bedouin.<ref>Thomson, 1859, vol 2, p. 216</ref>

In 1875 Victor Guérin described Afula as a village on a small hill overlooking a little plain. The houses were built of adobe and various other materials. Around the well, which Guérin thought was probably ancient, he noticed several tubs of broken sarcophagi serving as troughs.<ref>Guérin, 1880, pp. 109-110</ref> In 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described El Afuleh as a small adobe village in the plain, supplied by two wells.<ref name=SWP40/>

In 1909 or 1910, Yehoshua Hankin completed his first major purchase in the Jezreel Valley. He bought some 10,000 dunams (10 km²) of land in Al-Fuleh (now Afula), which became the home of two moshav settlements, Merhavia and Tel Adashim.<ref name=Segev242>Segev, 1999, p. 242</ref>

British Mandate era

According to the British Mandate's 1922 census of Palestine, Affuleh had 563 inhabitants; 471 Muslims, 62 Christians, 28 Jews and 2 Baha'i,<ref name="Census1922">Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Nazareth, p. 38</ref> 61 of the Christians were Orthodox, while one was Melkite.<ref>Barron, 1923, Table XVI, p. 50</ref>

In 1925 the American Zionist Commonwealth completed a purchase of the Afula valley from the Sursuk family of Beirut. A quarter of the one hundred Arab families who had lived in the area accepted compensation for their land and left voluntarily; the remainder were evicted.<ref name=Segev242/><ref>130 families, according to List of villages sold by Sursocks and their partners to the Zionists since British occupation of Palestine, evidence to the Shaw Commission, 1930</ref>

By the 1931 census, the population had increased to 874; with 786 Jews, 86 Muslims, 9 Christians, and 3 classified as "no religion", in a total of 236 houses.<ref name="Census1931">Mills, 1932, p. 73</ref>

In 1945 the population of Afula was 2,300 Jews and 10 Arabs. The town had a total of 18,277 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey.<ref>Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 62</ref> Of this, 145 dunams of land was used to cultivate citrus and bananas, 347 dunams were for plantations and irrigable land, 15,103 for cereals,<ref>Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 109</ref> while 992 dunams were built-up land.<ref>Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 159</ref>

During this time, the community was served by the Jezreel Valley Railway, part of the larger Hejaz Railway. Since 1913 it had also been the terminus station of the branch connecting it to Jenin and later also to Nablus. Sabotage actions of Jewish underground militias in 1945, 1946 and shortly before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War rendered first the connection to Jenin, then progressively the entire Valley Railway, inoperable.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}

1948, and after

Repairs to the Jezreel Valley Railway after 1948 restored service to Haifa, but only until 1949 when it was abandoned. Many plans to revive the line have failed. The latest Haifa-Afula-Beit She'an project is likely to be completed by 2016.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}

Due to Afula’s proximity to the West Bank, it has been a target for Palestinian political violence.<ref>"Five die in latest suicide bombing; British bomber dead"</ref> On 6 April 1994, the Afula Bus suicide bombing killed five people in the center of Afula. In the Afula axe attack in November 1994, a 19-year-old female soldier was attacked and murdered by an axe-wielding Arab militant.<ref>Arab Kills Female Israeli Soldier With Ax, - The Washington Post, 1 December 1994</ref> Afula also was the target of a suicide attack on a bus on 5 March 2002, in which one person died and several others were injured at Afula’s central bus station. In the Afula mall bombing on 19 May 2003, a woman suicide bomber blew herself up at the Amakim mall, killing three and wounding 70. This attack was claimed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Fatah movement’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

On 17 July 2006, during the Israel-Hezbollah War, Hezbollah fired Katyusha rockets at Afula, one of the southernmost rocket attacks on Israel from Lebanon. Six people were treated for shock as a result of the attack. On 28 July, a rocket landed causing a fire. The rocket carried {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} of explosives.<ref>Hezbollah missiles with {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} warhead strike Jezreel Valley</ref>

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