Kiryat Gat was established in 1955 as a development town by 18 families from Morocco. It was situated on land of the nearby village of Iraq al-Manshiyya, which was depopulated in 1948. The population rose from 4,400 inhabitants in 1958 to 17,000 in 1969, mostly Jewish immigrants from North Africa. The economy was initially based on processing the agricultural produce of the Lachish region, such as cotton and wool. In December 1972, Kiryat Gat's municipal status was upgraded and it became Israel's 31st city.
During the 1990s, the mass immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel, brought many new residents to the town and its population grew to 42,500 by 1995. The development of the Rabin industrial zone on the eastern edge of the city, and the opening of Highway 6 further improved the economy of the city.
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