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 Jenin Landscape
Jenin Landscape

Jenin (Arabic: , Hebrew: ג'נין), a city on the West Bank, is a major Palestinian agricultural center. Jenin also refers to the adjoining Jenin Refugee Camp and is the name of the surrounding district within the West Bank. Although designated as being under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, Israel recaptured the city after Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.



According to projections based on a 1997 census, the city of Jenin has a population of 34,000 Palestinians. The Jenin refugee camp housed approximately 13,000 refugees, according to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) on 373 dunams, or one square km of territory. Some 42.3% of the population of the camp is under the age of fifteen. The population of the entire Jenin district is over 250,000. [1]


It overlooks both the Jordan Valley to the east, and the Jezreel Valley to the north. Jenin is the site of the ancient Israelite village of Ein Gannim (See also: Anem).


One of the city's quarters is a officially a United Nations refugee camp housing mostly the descendants of Arab refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It has long been a center of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Jenin was a center of civil unrest during the Great Uprising of Palestinians in the years 1936-1939; in particular, it was the base of the pioneer of Arab militant activity, Sheikh Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam (whom the Hamas military wing is named after). It was also used by Qawquji's partisans guerillas.

In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the city was occupied by Iraqi forces, then captured briefly by forces of Israeli Karmeli Brigade during the "10 Days' fighting" following the cancellation of the first cease-fire. The offensive was actually a feint designed to draw Arab forces away from the critical Siege of Jerusalem, and gains in that sector were quickly abandoned when Arab reinforcements arrived.

The Jenin refugee camp was founded in 1953 to house Palestinians who fled or were expelled from Israeli territory during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

For 19 years, the city was under Jordanian control; it was then captured by the Peled division of the IDF on the first day of the Six-Day War of 1967. Additional refugees from the fighting came to live in Jenin refuge camp.

Conflict years

The city was handed over by Israel to the control of the Palestinian Authority in 1996. At the start of the Second Intifada, Israel alleged that the city had become a central source for the dispatching of suicide bombers to the North and Center of Israel. According to Israeli sources, a quarter of all suicide bombings carried out in Israel during the current, second Intifada originated in Jenin. See Palestinian terrorism for an in-depth discussion of this broader issue.

In April 2002, Jenin's refugee camp was the theatre of one of the most intense battles to occur during the al-Aqsa Intifada. The details of what happened during these events are hotly contested. The events were initially refered to as the "Jenin massacre", due to an allegation raised by Palestinians that the IDF killed hundreds of civilians in the camp. This allegation was later refuted, and the death toll was lowered to 52 people, at least 20 of whom were unarmed civilians [2]. Serious allegations of war crimes have also been levelled against the IDF. Israel denies these charges, and deny that war crimes were committed. In contrast, others hold that Israel sacrificed Israeli soldiers in order to save Palestinian lives. Families of some of the 23 Israeli soldiers killed brought a lawsuit against the Israeli Defense Forces and the Government of Israel, contending that "the government's primary obligation should have been to defend its own troops, even at the cost of more Palestinian civilian casualties".[3]

For more details, see: Battle of Jenin.


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