Ariel (Hebrew: אריאל) is an Israeli settlement in "Area C" (Israeli-managed territory in the West Bank), within the north-central West Bank (Judea and Samaria). It is approximately 40 km east of Tel-Aviv and 30 km east of Petah Tikva. It is beside the Palestinian town of Salfit.
Ari'el was established in 1978 as settler community based on the ideas of Revisionist Secular Zionism, in particular the political philosophies of Ze'ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky, a noted early 20th-century Zionist Jewish leader. It quickly grew during the 1980s, and then absorbed many Russian immigrants in the 1990s. It has a population of 20,000 (2018), including permanent non-resident students.
Ariel's population contains around 8,000 Russian immigrants, many of whom are not Jewish by Jewish religious law. The remaining inhabitants are predominantly secular, although more traditional than in the coastal secular communities. Around 20% of the town's population are classed as Orthodox, with minute numbers of Haredi (or "ultra-Orthodox") Jews. It is also home to a large public college and an important industrial area called the Barkan, producing many Israeli kosher food exports in particular. The settlement's residential and commercial growth has been slow and relatively unsuccessful, due to its secular nature, low birth rate and its distance from the main economic, cultural and religious life of the Israeli coastal plain.
Ariel's location was chosen in large part for military reasons. It is located in the geographical center of the northern West Bank, equidistant between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordanian border, providing a strategic base for the Israeli army. Its large population also helps create a "settlement bloc" in the part of the West Bank overlooking the heavily populated Israeli central region.
- From Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, buses 86, 186 and 286. 86 is the express bus, bypassing other Israeli settlement communities.
- From Rosh Ha'Ayin North Train Station, Bus 100.
- From Jerusalem Central Bus Station: Buses 462, 463 and 464 (Egged Ta'avura).
- From Tel Aviv: Take Route 5 eastward until it ends at a large traffic circle. About 35 minutes.
- From Jerusalem: Head northwards past Ramallah on Route 60. Follow signposts to Beit-El. About 45 minutes.
- There are no local bus routes, but you can take any of the intercity buses and get off elsewhere in the city. Tell the driver your destination or else pnimi (internal) so you get the lower internal bus fare.
- Hitchhiking (Tremp)
- Ariel is long and narrow (it follows the crest of a long mountain ridge), so it could be a long walk from one part to another.
- 1 Garden of Bible Stories. 9AM-3PM weekdays, or by arrangement. A park with sculptures and models representing various objects and stories from the Bible. The highlight is a full-sized reproduction of the Tabernacle (mishkan) from the desert, which is very realistic and very impressive looking. They offer a guided tour, which is intended for large groups and priced accordingly, and is reported to be superficial and child-oriented. Instead of this, pay ₪25 to walk around the site on your own. You should be given English-language headphones for basic guidance. Located next to the Eshel HaShomron Hotel, at the western entrance to Ariel (next to the large traffic circle where Route 5 comes to an end).
- Samaria Mountain Ranges: These hills contain the locations of the most famous Bible stories. Magnificent view of the Israeli Coastal Plain and Gaza Strip.
- Shuchnat HaKaravanim (Caravan Neighbourhood): Contains Jewish travellers, Biblical wannabees, hippies, former Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and the town's main yeshiva.
- 1 Cultural Theater (Heichal HaTarbut). Many musicals and shows scheduled across the year, showcasing Israeli culture.
- See former settlers from the former Gush Katif Jewish Settlement Bloc of the Gaza Strip: Witness their experiences of Israeli Police and life in one of the most violent places on Earth through their stories of hope, despair, history, Judaism and what they view as national redemption. Tips accepted.
- Ariel Country Club: Range of sporting activities, including swimming.
- Target Shooting: One of Israel's biggest shooting galleries, located at the Eshel HaShomron Hotel, adjacent to Ariel Junction.
- 2 Ariel Center for the Performing Arts.
Usual Israeli fare is available.
- Pizza 2 for 1 in Mercaz Ha'Ir (City Center).
- Cafe-Cafe (Badatz Kosher Mehadrin), located in the Ariel Sport Center.
- There are many Russian vodka bars in town.
- Coffee shops
- Sodom and Gemorrah Park.
- Nablus (Biblical Shechem). Non-Israeli tourists must take their passports with an Israeli entry stamp (or bring the separate paper that the tourist stamp was given on), to show Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint to re-enter Israeli territory after visiting since it is in Area A of the territory and under Palestinian Authority Control. Hitch a ride, or take Palestinian licence-plated taxi, from Ariel Junction to Nablus.