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Nablus

From Academic Kids

Template:Message box Nablus also (rarely) spelled Nabulus (Arabic نابلس; Hebrew שכם, Shechem) is a major city (pop. 300,000) in the West Bank, about 63 km. north of Jerusalem. Its residents are mostly Arab Palestinians. A site of religious significance to the three major monotheistic faiths, Nablus is a home to political instability and is associated with recurring violence between the Palestinian population and Israel.

Contents

History

It was founded in CE 72 as a Roman city named Flavia Neapolis ("New city of the imperator Flavius"), about 2 km. east of the site of the Biblical city of Shechem. After the Arab conquest in 636, the city was renamed Nablus. Crusaders later rechristened the site Naples. (The name of the Italian city Naples also derives from "Neapolis".) With its fortified citadel, the city was a major center of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, until the older city of Nablus was obliterated in 1202 and rebuilt once again as an Arab city upon its ruins.

An earthquake in 1927 damaged many of the city's buildings, which were rebuilt but lost their previous picturesque character. The city is partially electrified and many of its narrow public lanes are paved. Many of the former traditional houses are now used as warehouses, as people have moved to housing with modern amenities on the outskirts.

The city has a biblical history, and has significance in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In a Greek Orthodox monastery nearby is located a well associated with that of the Old Testament figure Jacob. In the New Testament, this is the well at which Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman. A holy site nearby is claimed by some as the tomb of Joseph, carrying religious significance for Jews; and by Muslims as the tomb of a Muslim saint. The site has seen much friction between Israelis and Palestinians; from 1980-2000 the Israeli army maintained an armed guard there, and in 2000 the tomb was looted in an anti-Israel riot.

Features

Nablus is the site of An-Najah National University, the largest Palestinian university. There are three refugee camps just outside the city, which were built for the Palestinian refugees of 1948. These camps are Ein Beit el Ma, Balatah and Asquar Al Quadim and Askar Al Jadid. Together they have more than 30,000 inhabitants.

Nablus is famous for the architecture of its market, the Kasbah, and also for the culinary specialty of knafeh, a pastry dessert drenched in syrup and served in square-cut slices fresh from the oven.

Instability

The city's unemployment rates have increased dramatically in recent years, rising from 14.2% in 1997 to an estimate of 60% in 2004. It is estimated that the unemployment in the old city and in the refugee camps is as high as 80% [1] (http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/opt/OCHA_Body-ASP_Files/Coordination_Sec/OCHA-oPt_FCU_BIOs_PDFs/OCHA-oPt_Nablus-FCU_Bio_Data-22Nov04.pdf). The Israeli closure regime is one policy frequently blamed for the unemployment.

In the recent intifada (2000- ), groups of Palestinians destroyed the Tomb of Joseph, a Jewish holy site, and have since laid foundations for a mosque to occupy the site. This action has embittered many adherents of the Jewish and Christian faiths, for which the city holds religious significance.

Nablus is known nowadays as a source of resistance to the presence of Israel. Many Israeli citizens have been killed by paramilitary groups that originate there. The state of Israel responded in March 2002 by invading the city and capturing many suspected terrorists and supporters. Palestinian militancy and Israeli defensive operations into Nablus continue as of May 2003.

Since late July 2003, Nablus has been torn apart by armed gang war, waged by Palestinian militias; local bandits; and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a paramilitary organization linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah which carries out suicide bombings. Arafat appointed a mayor, Ghassan Shakaa, and a governor, Mahmoud Aloul, who are each at the head of armed factions. Following the assassination of his brother by al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, Nablus' mayor, Ghassan Shakaa, published an open letter via the press - in which he calls for the Palestinian Authority to restore order in the torn city. Taysir Naserallah, a leading representative of Fatah in Nablus, said that the repeated Israeli military presence in the city, compounded by months of curfews and economic collapse, had brought about the chaos.

In February 2004 Shakaa filed his resignation from office, after the Palestinian Authority (PA) did nothing to stop the armed militias of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades from rampaging the city and attacking its residents. Shaaka avoided directly blaming Arafat, but hinted that the PA was the one to blame for the chaos and anarchy ravaging the city of Nablus.

In his resignation letter he wrote:

"I see my city collapsing and I don't want to stand idly by and watch this collapse... My resignation is a warning bell to the Palestinian Authority and the residents of Nablus, because both of them are doing nothing for this city." [2] (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040228/ap_on_re_mi_ea/israel_palestinians_2)

As of April 1, 2004 Dr. Hussein Al-Araj has served as Acting Mayor.

Recently, Nablus gained a negative reputation following a wave of child suicide bombers who lived there. Hussam Abdo and Abdullah Quran were the most famous, after being caught in the IDF's Hawara checkpoint outside the city. A cell of Tanzim activists (which included teenagers) who sent the children for suicide bombing missions was arrested by the IDF.

On June 25 the IDF killed three top terrorists in Nablus, including the heads of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Thousands participated in their funerals. [3] (http://www.maarivintl.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&xCache=%7Bts%20%272004%2D07%2D15%2023%3A13%3A25%27%7D&articleID=9088)

External links

de:Nablus fr:Naplouse he:שכם nl:Nabloes ru:Наблус

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