This article is about the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank, and its predecessor, the Roman city of Flavia Neapolis. For the biblical city of Shechem, at the same location, see Shechem
: Nābulus [ˈnæːblʊs] (listen)
, ISO 259-3 Škem
: Νεάπολις, romanized
) is a city in the northern West Bank
, approximately 49 kilometers (30 mi) north of Jerusalem
(approximately 63 kilometers (39 mi) by road), with a population of 126,132.
Located between Mount Ebal
and Mount Gerizim
, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate
and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center, home to An-Najah National University
, one of the largest Palestinian institutions of higher learning, and the Palestinian stock-exchange
The city was named by the Roman
in 72 CE as Flavia Neapolis
. During the Byzantine
period, conflict between the city's Christian
inhabitants peaked in a series of Samaritan revolts before their suppression in 529 dwindled that community's numbers in the city. With the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, the city was given its present Arabic name Nablus. The Crusaders
drafted the laws of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
in the Council of Nablus
and its Muslim, Christian and Samaritan inhabitants prospered. The city then came under the control of the Ayyubids
and Mamluk Sultanate
. Under the Ottomans
, who conquered the city in 1517, Nablus served as the administrative and commercial center for the surrounding area, corresponding to the present-day northern West Bank.
For earlier history of the city, see Shechem
Coin minted in Nablus (Neapolis), in the name of Emperor Volusian
, 251-253 CE
Insofar as the hilly topography of the site would allow, the city was built on a Roman grid plan
and settled with veterans who fought in the victorious legions and other foreign colonists.
In the 2nd century CE, Emperor Hadrian
built a grand theater
in Neapolis that could seat up to 7,000 people.
Coins found in Nablus dating to this period depict Roman military emblems and gods and goddesses of the Greek pantheon such as Zeus
, and Asklepios
Neapolis was entirely pagan
at this time. Justin Martyr
who was born in the city c. 100 CE, came into contact with Platonism
, but not with Christians there.
The city flourished until the civil war between Septimius Severus
and Pescennius Niger
in 198–9 CE. Having sided with Niger, who was defeated, the city was temporarily stripped of its legal privileges by Severus, who designated these to Sebastia
In 244 CE, Philip the Arab
transformed Flavius Neapolis into a Roman colony named Julia Neapolis
. It retained this status until the rule of Trebonianus Gallus
in 251 CE. The Encyclopaedia Judaica
speculates that Christianity was dominant in the 2nd or 3rd century, with some sources positing a later date of 480 CE.
It is known for certain that a bishop from Nablus participated in the Council of Nicaea
in 325 CE.
The presence of Samaritans in the city is attested to in literary and epigraphic evidence dating to the 4th century CE.
As yet, there is no evidence attesting to a Jewish presence in ancient Neapolis.
Ruins from antiquity (foreground) in a residential area in Nablus, 2008
As tensions among the Christians of Neapolis decreased, tensions between the Christian community and the Samaritans
grew dramatically. In 484, the city became the site of a deadly encounter between the two groups, provoked by rumors that the Christians intended to transfer the remains of Aaron
's sons and grandsons Eleazar
. Samaritans reacted by entering the cathedral of Neapolis, killing the Christians inside and severing the fingers of the bishop Terebinthus. Terebinthus then fled to Constantinople
, requesting an army garrison to prevent further attacks. As a result of the revolt, the Byzantine emperor Zeno
erected a church dedicated to Mary
on Mount Gerizim. He also forbade the Samaritans to travel to the mountain to celebrate their religious ceremonies, and expropriated their synagogue there. These actions by the emperor fueled Samaritan anger towards the Christians further.
Thus, the Samaritans rebelled again under the rule of emperor Anastasius I
, reoccupying Mount Gerizim, which was subsequently reconquered by the Byzantine governor of Edessa
, Procopius. A third Samaritan revolt which took place under the leadership of Julianus ben Sabar
in 529 was perhaps the most violent. Neapolis' bishop Ammonas
was murdered and the city's priests were hacked into pieces and then burned together with the relics of saints
. The forces of Emperor Justinian I
were sent in to quell the revolt, which ended with the slaughter of the majority of the Samaritan population in the city.
Early Islamic era
Neapolis, along with most of Palestine, was conquered by the Muslims
under Khalid ibn al-Walid
, a general of the Rashidun army
of Umar ibn al-Khattab
, in 636 after the Battle of Yarmouk
The city's name was retained in its Arabicized
. The town prevailed as an important trade center during the centuries of Islamic Arab
rule under the Umayyad
dynasties. Under Muslim rule, Nablus contained a diverse population of Arabs and Persians
, Muslims, Samaritans, Christians and Jews
In the 10th century, the Arab geographer al-Muqaddasi
, described it as abundant of olive trees, with a large marketplace, a finely paved Great Mosque
, houses built of stone, a stream running through the center of the city, and notable mills.
He also noted that it was nicknamed "Little Damascus
At the time, the linen produced in Nablus was well known throughout the Old World
The city was captured by Crusaders
in 1099, under the command of Prince Tancred
, and renamed Naples
Though the Crusaders extorted many supplies from the population for their troops who were en route to Jerusalem, they did not sack the city, presumably because of the large Christian population there.
Nablus became part of the royal domain
of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
. The Muslim, Eastern Orthodox Christian, and Samaritan populations remained in the city and were joined by some Crusaders who settled therein to take advantage of the city's abundant resources. In 1120, the Crusaders convened the Council of Nablus
out of which was issued the first written laws for the kingdom.
They converted the Samaritan synagogue in Nablus into a church.
The Samaritan community built a new synagogue in the 1130s.
In 1137, Arab and Turkish
troops stationed in Damascus
raided Nablus, killing many Christians and burning down the city's churches. However, they were unsuccessful in retaking the city.
Queen Melisende of Jerusalem
resided in Nablus from 1150 to 1161, after she was granted control over the city in order to resolve a dispute with her son Baldwin III
. Crusaders began building Christian institutions in Nablus, including a church dedicated to the Passion
and Resurrection of Jesus
, and in 1170 they erected a hospice for pilgrims.
Ayyubid and Mamluk rule
Crusader rule came to an end in 1187, when the Ayyubids
led by Saladin
captured the city. According to a liturgical manuscript in Syriac
, Latin Christians
fled Nablus, but the original Eastern Orthodox
Christian inhabitants remained.
Syrian geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi
(1179–1229), wrote that Ayyubid Nablus was a "celebrated city in Filastin (Palestine)... having wide lands and a fine district." He also mentions the large Samaritan population in the city.
After its recapture by the Muslims, the Great Mosque of Nablus
, which had become a church under Crusader rule, was restored as a mosque by the Ayyubids, who also built a mausoleum
in the old city.
"Battle of Nablus (1242)" and "Sack of Nablus (1242)" redirect here.
In October 1242, Nablus was raided by the Knights Templar
. This was the conclusion of the 1242 campaign season in which the Templars had joined forces with the Ayyubid emir of Kerak, An-Nasir Dawud
, against the Mamluks. The Templars raided Nablus in revenge for a previous massacre of Christians by their erstwhile ally An-Nasir Dawud. The attack is reported as a particularly bloody affair lasting for three days, during which the Mosque was burned and many residents of the city, Christians alongside Muslims, were killed or sold in the slave markets of Acre
. The successful raid was widely publicized by the Templars in Europe; it is thought to be depicted in a late 13th-century fresco in the Templar church of San Bevignate
In 1244, the Samaritan synagogue, built in 362 by the high priest Akbon and converted into a church by the Crusaders, was converted into al-Khadra Mosque
. Two other Crusader churches became the An-Nasr Mosque
and al-Masakim Mosque during that century.
The Mamluk dynasty
gained control of Nablus in 1260 and during their reign, they built numerous mosques and schools.
Under Mamluk rule, Nablus possessed running water, many Turkish baths
and exported olive oil and soap
, Syria, the Hejaz
, several Mediterranean
islands, and the Arabian Desert
. The city's olive oil was also used in the Umayyad Mosque
in Damascus. Ibn Battuta
, the Arab explorer, visited Nablus in 1355, and described it as a city "full of trees and streams and full of olives." He noted that the city grew and exported carob
jam to Cairo
Nablus came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire
in 1517, along with the whole of Palestine. The Ottomans divided Palestine into six sanjaqs
, all of which were part of Ottoman Syria
. These five sanjaqs
were subdistricts of the Vilayet of Damascus
. Sanjaq Nablus was further subdivided into five nahiya
(subdistricts), in addition to the city itself. The Ottomans did not attempt to restructure the political configuration of the region on the local level such that the borders of the nahiya
were drawn to coincide with the historic strongholds of certain families. Nablus was only one among a number of local centers of power within Jabal Nablus, and its relations with the surrounding villages, such as Beita
, were partially mediated by the rural-based chiefs of the nahiya
During the 16th century, the population was predominantly Muslim, with Jewish, Samaritan and Christian minorities.
After decades of upheavals and rebellions mounted by Arab tribes in the Middle East, the Ottomans attempted to reassert centralized control over the Arab vilayets
. In 1657, they sent an expeditionary force led mostly by Arab sipahi
officers from central Syria
to reassert Ottoman authority in Nablus and its hinterland, as part of a broader attempt to established centralized rule throughout the empire at that time. In return for their services, the officers were granted agricultural lands around the villages of Jabal Nablus. The Ottomans, fearing that the new Arab land holders would establish independent bases of power, dispersed the land plots to separate and distant locations within Jabal Nablus to avoid creating contiguous territory controlled by individual clans. Contrary to its centralization purpose, the 1657 campaign allowed the Arab sipahi
officers to establish their own increasingly autonomous foothold in Nablus. The officers raised their families there and intermarried with the local notables of the area, namely the ulama
and merchant families. Without abandoning their nominal military service, they acquired diverse properties to consolidate their presence and income such as soap and pottery factories, bathhouses
, agricultural lands, grain mills and, olive and sesame oil presses.
The most influential military family were the Nimrs, who were originally local governors of Homs
's rural subdistricts. Other officer families included the Akhrami, Asqalan, Bayram, Jawhari, Khammash, Mir'i, Shafi, Sultan and Tamimi families, some of which remained in active service, while some left service for other pursuits. In the years following the 1657 campaign, two other families migrated to Nablus: the Jarrars from Balqa
and the Tuqans
from northern Syria or Transjordan. The Jarrars came to dominate the hinterland of Nablus, while the Tuqans and Nimrs competed for influence in the town. The former held the post of mutasallim
(tax collector, strongman) of Nablus longer, though non-consecutively than any other family. The three families maintained their power until the mid-19th century.
In the mid-18th century, Zahir al-Umar
, the autonomous Arab ruler of the Galilee
became a dominant figure in Palestine. To build up his army, he strove to gain a monopoly over the cotton
and olive oil trade of the southern Levant
, including Jabal Nablus, which was a major producer of both crops. In 1771, during the Egyptian Mamluk
invasion of Syria, Zahir aligned himself with the Mamluks and besieged Nablus, but did not succeed in taking the city. In 1773, he tried again without success. Nevertheless, from a political perspective, the sieges led to a decline in the importance of the city in favor of Acre. Zahir's successor, Jezzar Pasha
, maintained Acre's dominance over Nablus. After his reign ended in 1804, Nablus regained its autonomy, and the Tuqans, who represented a principal opposing force, rose to power.
Egyptian rule and Ottoman revival
Nablus in 1898
In 1831–32 Khedivate Egypt
, then led by Muhammad Ali
, conquered Palestine from the Ottomans. A policy of conscription
and new taxation
was instituted which led to a revolt
organized by the a'ayan
(notables) of Nablus, Hebron
and the Jerusalem-Jaffa area. In May 1834, Qasim al-Ahmad
—the chief of the Jamma'in nahiya
—rallied the rural sheikhs and fellahin
(peasants) of Jabal Nablus and launched a revolt against Governor Ibrahim Pasha
, in protest at conscription orders, among other new policies. The leaders of Nablus and its hinterland sent thousands of rebels to attack Jerusalem, the center of government authority in Palestine, aided by the Abu Ghosh
clan, and they conquered the city on 31 May. However, they were later defeated by Ibrahim Pasha's forces the next month. Ibrahim then forced the heads of the Jabal Nablus clans to leave for nearby villages. By the end of August, the countrywide revolt had been suppressed and Qasim was executed.
Egyptian rule in Palestine resulted in the destruction of Acre
and thus, the political importance of Nablus was further elevated. The Ottomans wrested back control of Palestine from Egypt
in 1840–41. However, the Arraba
-based Abd al-Hadi clan which rose to prominence under Egyptian rule for supporting Ibrahim Pasha, continued its political dominance in Jabal Nablus.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Nablus was the principal trade and manufacturing center in Ottoman Syria. Its economic activity and regional leadership position surpassed that of Jerusalem and the coastal cities of Jaffa
and Acre. Olive oil
was the primary product of Nablus and aided other related industries such as soap-making
and basket weaving.
It was also the largest producer of cotton in the Levant, topping the production of northern cities such as Damascus.
Jabal Nablus enjoyed a greater degree of autonomy
than other sanjaqs
under Ottoman control, probably because the city was the capital of a hilly region, in which there were no "foreigners" who held any military or bureaucratic posts. Thus, Nablus remained outside the direct "supervision" of the Ottoman government, according to historian Beshara Doumani
World War I and British Mandate
Nablus in 1918
During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War
, Nablus came under Jordanian
control. Thousands of Palestinian refugees fleeing from areas captured by Israel
arrived in Nablus, settling in refugee camps in and around the city. Its population doubled, and the influx of refugees put a heavy strain on the city's resources. Three such camps still located within the city limits today are Ein Beit al-Ma'
. During the Jordanian period, the adjacent villages of Rafidia
, Balata al-Balad
, al-Juneid and Askar were annexed to the Nablus municipality.
Nablus was annexed by Jordan
The 1967 Six-Day War
ended in the Israeli occupation
of Nablus. Many Israeli settlements
were built around Nablus during the 1980s and early 1990s. The restrictions placed on Nablus during the First Intifada were met by a back-to-the-land movement to secure self-sufficiency, and had a notable outcome in boosting local agricultural production.
In 1976, Bassam Shakaa
was elected mayor. On 2 June 1980, he survived an assassination attempt by the Jewish Underground
, considered a terrorist group by Israel, which resulted in Shakaa losing both his legs. In the spring of 1982, the Israeli administration removed him from office and installed an army officer who ran the city for the following three and a half years.
On 29 July 1985, the Israeli army imposed a 5-day curfew on the city. At the time this was the longest curfew ever imposed on a Palestinian community in the West Bank
. It was lifted 2 hours each day to allow residents to find food. The curfew was in response to the murder of two teachers on 21 July near Jenin
and the killing of an Israeli para-military on 30 July. Najah University
was closed for 2 months after posters with pictures of PLO
leader were found.
In January 1986, the Israeli administration ended with the appointment of Zafer al-Masri
as mayor. A popular leader of the Nablus Chamber of Commerce al-Masri began a program of improvements in the town. Despite maintaining that he would have nothing to do with Israeli autonomy plans he was assassinated on 2 March 1986.
The assassination was widely believed to be the work of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
On 18 June 1989 Salah el Bah'sh, aged 17, was shot dead by an Israeli soldier
whilst walking through the Nablus Casbah
. Witnesses told B'Tselem
, the Israeli Human Rights group, that he was shot in the chest at close range after not responding to a soldier shouting "Ta'amod" (Halt!). The army indicated that an investigation was being carried out. B'Tselem understood that the victim was killed by a rubber bullet
From the start of the Second Intifada
, which began in September 2000, Nablus became a flash-point of clashes between the IDF and Palestinians. The city has a tradition of political activism, as evinced by its nickname, jabal al-nar
and, located between two mountains, was closed off at both ends of the valley by Israeli checkpoints. For several years, movements in and out of the city were highly restricted.
The city and the refugee camps
constituted the center of "knowhow" for the production and operation of the rockets in the West Bank.
The operation also resulted in severe damage to the historic core of the city, with 64 heritage buildings being heavily damaged or destroyed.
IDF forces reentered Nablus during Operation Determined Path
in June 2002, remaining inside the city until the end of September. Over those three months, there had been more than 70 days of full 24-hour curfews.
According to Gush Shalom
, IDF bulldozers damaged the al-Khadra Mosque, the Great Mosque, the al-Satoon Mosque and the Greek Orthodox Church
in 2002. Some 60 houses were destroyed, and parts of the stone-paving in the old city were damaged. The al-Shifa hammam
was hit by three rockets from Apache helicopters
. The eastern entrance of the Khan al-Wikala (old market) and three soap factories were destroyed in F-16
bombings. The cost of the damage was estimated at $80 million US.
In August 2016, the Old city of Nablus became a site of fierce clashes
between a militant group vs Palestinian police. On August 18, two Palestinian Police
servicemen were killed in the city.
Short afterly the raid of police on the suspected areas in the Old city deteriorated into a gun battle, in which 3 armed militia men were killed, including one killed by beating following his arrest.
The person beaten to death was the suspected “mastermind” behind the August 18 shooting - Ahmed Izz Halaweh, a senior member of the armed wing of the Fatah movement the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
His death was branded by the UN and Palestinian factions as a part of “extrajudicial executions.”
A widespread manhunt for multiple gunmen was initiated by the police as a result, concluding with the arrest of one suspect Salah al-Kurdi on August 25.
Section of topographical map of Nablus area
Nablus lies in a strategic position at a junction between two ancient commercial roads; one linking the Sharon coastal plain
to the Jordan valley
, the other linking Nablus to the Galilee
in the north, and the biblical Judea
to the south through the mountains.
The city stands at an elevation of around 550 meters (1,800 ft) above sea level
in a narrow valley running roughly east–west between two mountains: Mount Ebal
, the northern mountain, is the taller peak at 940 meters (3,080 ft), while Mount Gerizim
, the southern mountain, is 881 meters (2,890 ft) high.
Alley in the Old City leading to and from the souk
In the center of Nablus lies the old city, composed of six major quarters: Yasmina, Gharb, Qaryun, Aqaba, Qaysariyya, and Habala. Habala is the largest quarter and its population growth led to the development of two smaller neighborhoods: al-Arda and Tal al-Kreim. The old city is densely populated and prominent families include the Nimrs, Tuqans, and Abd al-Hadis. The large fortress-like compound of the Abd al-Hadi Palace
built in the 19th century is located in Qaryun. The Nimr Hall
and the Tuqan Palace
are located in the center of the old city. There are several mosques
in the Old City: the Great Mosque of Nablus
, An-Nasr Mosque, al-Tina Mosque, al-Khadra Mosque
, Hanbali Mosque
, al-Anbia Mosque, Ajaj Mosque and others.
There are six hamaams
) in the Old City, the most prominent of them being al-Shifa and al-Hana. Al-Shifa was built by the Tuqans in 1624. Al-Hana in Yasmina was the last hamaam
built in the city in the 19th century. It was closed in 1928 but restored and reopened in 1994.
Several leather tanneries, souks
, pottery and textile workshops line the Old City streets.
Also located in the Old City is the 15th-century Khan al-Tujjar
caravanserai and the Manara Clock Tower
, built in 1906.
Panorama of Nablus
Picture showing to the right the mountain "Ebal
" with the rock of "Sit Islamieh", and to the left the south mountain "Jirziem" with an IDF military post
on the far left
The relatively temperate Mediterranean climate
brings hot, dry summers and cool, rainy winters to Nablus. Spring arrives around March–April and the hottest months in Nablus are July and August with the average high being 29.6 °C (85.3 °F). The coldest month is January with temperatures usually at 6.2 °C (43.2 °F). Rain generally falls between October and March, with annual precipitation rates being approximately 656 mm (25.8 in).
In 1596, the population consisted of 806 Muslim households, 20 Samaritan
households, 18 Christian households, and 15 Jewish households.
Local Ottoman authorities recorded a population of around 20,000 residents in Nablus in 1849.
In 1867 American visitors found the town to have a population of 4,000 'the chief part of whom are Mohammedans', with some Jews and Christians and 'about 150 Samaritans'.
In the 1922 British census of Palestine
, there were a total of 15,947 inhabitants: 15,238 Muslims, 16 Jews, 544 Christians, 147 Samaritans and others.
Population continued to grow, rising to 17,181 at the 1931 census of Palestine
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
(PCBS), Nablus had a population of 126,132 in 2007.
In the PCBS's 1997 census, the city had a population of 100,034, including 23,397 refugees
, accounting for about 24% of the city's residents.
Nablus' Old City had a population of 12,000 in 2006.
The population of Nablus city comprises 40% of its governorate
Approximately half of population is under 20 years old. In 1997, the age distribution of the city's inhabitants was 28.4% under the age of 10, 20.8% from 10 to 19, 17.7% from 20–29, 18% from 30 to 44, 11.1% from 45 to 64 and 3.7% above the age of 65. The gender distribution was 50,945 males (50.92%) and 49,089 females (49.07%).
In 891 CE, during the early centuries of Islamic
rule, Nablus had a religiously diverse population of Samaritans, local Muslims
and Christians. Arab geographer Al-Dimashqi
, recorded that under the rule of the Mamluk Dynasty (Muslim Dynasty based in Egypt), local Muslims, Samaritans, Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Jews populated the city.
At the 1931 census
, the population was counted as 16,483 Muslims, 533 Christians, 6 Jews, 7 Druses and 160 Samaritans.
However, this census was taken after the 1929 Palestine riots
which drove the Jews out of many majority-Arab cities.
The majority of the inhabitants today are Muslim, but there are small Christian
communities as well. Much of the local Palestinian
Muslim population of Nablus is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. Certain Nabulsi family names are associated with Samaritan ancestry – Muslimani, Yaish, and Shakshir among others.
According to the historian Fayyad Altif, large numbers of Samaritans converted due to persecution and because the monotheistic nature of Islam made it easy for them to accept it.
In 1967, there were about 3,500 Christians of various denominations in Nablus, but that figure dwindled to about 650 in 2008.
Of the Christian populace, there are seventy Orthodox Christian
families, about thirty Catholic (Roman Catholic and Eastern Melkite Catholic) families and thirty Anglican
families. Most Christians used to live in the suburb of Rafidia
in the western part of the city.
There are seventeen Islamic monuments and eleven mosques in the Old City.
Nine of the mosques were established before the 15th century.
In addition to Muslim houses of worship, Nablus contains an Orthodox church dedicated to Saint Justin Martyr,
built in 1898, and the ancient Samaritan synagogue, which is still in use.
Manara clock tower in the Old City
The Ottoman government ensured adequate safety and funding for the annual pilgrimage
caravan (qafilat al-hajj
) from Damascus to the Islamic holy cities of Mecca
. This policy benefited Nablus economically. Pilgrimage caravans became the key factor in the fiscal and political relationship between Nablus and the central government. For a brief period in the early 17th century, the governor of Nablus, Farrukh Pasha
, was appointed leader of the pilgrimage caravan (amir al-hajj
), and he constructed a large commercial compound in Nablus for that purpose.
In 1882, there were 32 soap factories and 400 looms
exporting their products throughout the Middle East.
Nablus exported three-fourths of its soap — the city's most important commodity—to Cairo by caravan through Gaza
and the Sinai Peninsula
, and by sea through the ports of Jaffa
and Gaza. From Egypt, and particularly from Cairo and Damietta
, Nablus merchants imported mainly rice, sugar
, and spices, as well as linen, cotton, and wool textiles. Cotton, soap, olive oil, and textiles were exported by Nablus merchants to Damascus, whence silks, high-quality textiles, copper, and a number luxury items, such as jewellery were imported.
With regard to the local economy, agriculture was the major component. Outside of the city limits, there were extensive fields of olive
orchards and grape
vineyards that covered the area's slopes. Crops, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and mulukhiyya
were grown in the fields, vegetable gardens, and grain mills scattered across central Samaria
Nablus was also the largest producer of cotton
in the Levant, producing over 225,000 kg (496,040 lb) of the product by 1837.
Downtown Nablus, Martyrs Square
Nablus has a bustling modern commercial center with restaurants, and a shopping mall
Traditional industries continue to operate in Nablus,
such as the production of soap, olive oil, and handicrafts
. Other industries include furniture production, tile production, stone quarrying, textile manufacturing and leather tanning
The Vegetable Oil Industry Co. is a Nablus factory that produces refined vegetable oils, especially olive oil, and vegetable butter from the factory is exported to Jordan
The al-Huda Textiles factory is also located in Nablus. In 2000, the factory produced 500 pieces of clothing daily; however, production plummeted to 150–200 pieces daily in 2002. Al-Huda mainly imports textiles from China and exports finished products to Israel
There are eight restaurants in the city and four hotels — the largest being al-Qasr and al-Yasmeen.
Nablus' once-thriving soap industry has been largely isolated due to difficult transportation conditions stemming from West Bank closures
and IDF incursions. Today, there are only two soap factories still operating in the city.
The Al-Arz ice-cream company is the largest of six ice-cream manufacturers in the Palestinian territories. The Nablus business developed from an ice-factory set up by Mohammad Anabtawi in the town centre in 1950. It produces 50 tons a day, and exports to Jordan and Iraq. Most of the ingredients are imported from Israel.
Before 2000, 13.4% of Nablus' residents worked in Israel, with the figure dropping to 4.7% in 2004. The city's manufacturing sector made up 15.7% of the economy in 2004, a drop from 21% in 2000. Since 2000, most of the workforce has been employed in agriculture and local trade.
In the wake of the Intifada, unemployment rates rose from 14.2% in 1997 to 60% in 2004. According to an OCHA
report in 2008, one of the reasons for the high unemployment was a ring of checkpoints around the city,
leading to the relocation of many businesses.
Since the removal of the Hawara
roadblock, the casbah has become a vibrant marketplace.
Nablus is home to the Palestine Securities Exchange
(PSE) and the al-Quds Financial Index, housed in the al-Qasr building in the Rafidia suburb of the city. The PSE's first trading session took place on February 19, 1997. In 2007, the capitalization of the PSE topped 3.5 million Jordanian dinars
Nablus is also home to an-Najah National University
, the largest Palestinian university
in the West Bank. Founded in 1918 by the an-Najah Nabulsi School, it became a college in 1941 and a university in 1977. An-Najah was closed down by Israeli authorities during the First Intifada
, but reopened in 1991. Today, the university has three campuses in Nablus with over 16,500 students and 300 professors. The university's faculties include seven in the humanities
and nine in the sciences
There are six hospitals
in Nablus, the four major ones being al-Ittihad, St. Lukes, al-Watani(the National) and the Rafidia Surgery Hospital. The latter, located in Rafidia, a suburb in western Nablus, is the largest hospital in the city. Al-Watani Hospital specializes in oncology
St. Lukes hospital and the National Hospital were built in 1900 and 1910 respectively.
In addition to hospitals, Nablus contains the al-Rahma and at-Tadamon clinics, the al-Razi medical center, the Amal Center for Rehabilitation and 68 pharmacies.
In addition to that, in 2001, Nablus Speciality Hospital was built, in which it is specialized in open heart surgery
.Rafidia Surgical Hospital
is located in the city.
Culture and arts
Traditional Nablus dress featuring brightly colored coat draped over head and shoulders
Nablus costume was of a distinctive style that employed colorful combinations of various fabrics. Due to its position as important trade center with a flourishing souk
("market"), in the late 19th century, there was a large choice of fabrics available in the city, from Damascus
and Aleppo silk
to Manchester cottons
. Similar in construction to the garments worn in the Galilee
, both long and short Turkish style
jackets were worn over the thob
("robe"). For daily wear, thobs
were often made of white cotton or linen
, with a preference for winged sleeves. In the summer, costumes often incorporated interwoven striped bands of red, green and yellow on the front and back, with appliqué and braidwork popularly decorating the qabbeh
("square chest piece").
Nablus is one of the Palestinian cities that sustained elite classes, fostering the development of a culture of "high cuisine", such as that of Damascus
. The city is home to a number of food products well known throughout the Levant, the Arab world
and the former provinces of the Ottoman Empire
(or Kunafa) is the best known Nabulsi
It is made of several fine shreds of pastry noodles with honey-sweetened cheese in the center. The top layer of the pastry is usually dyed orange with food coloring and sprinkled with crushed pistachios. Now made throughout the Middle East, kanafeh Nabulsi
uses a white-brine cheese called jibneh Nabulsi
. Boiled sugar is used as a syrup for kanafeh
Other sweets made in Nablus include baklawa
, "Tamriya", mabrumeh
a plain pastry made of butter, flour and sugar in an "S"-shape, or shaped as fingers or bracelets.
There are three cultural centers in Nablus. The Child Cultural Center (CCC), founded in 1998 and built in a renovated historic building, operates an art and drawing workshop, a stage for play performances, a music room, a children's library and a multimedia lab.
The Children Happiness Center (CHC) was also established in 1998. Its main activities include promoting Palestinian culture through social events, dabke
classes and field trips. In addition to national culture, the CHC has a football
The Nablus municipal government established its own cultural center in 2003, called the Nablus Municipality Cultural Center (NMCC) aimed at establishing and developing educational facilities.
Nabulsi soap stacked at Tuqan factory, Nablus
Nabulsi soap or sabon nabulsi
is a type of castile soap
produced only in Nablus
and made of three primary ingredients: virgin olive oil
, water, and a sodium
Since the 10th century, Nabulsi soap has enjoyed a reputation for being a fine product,
and has been exported across the Arab world and to Europe.
Though the number of soap factories decreased from a peak of thirty in the 19th century to only two today, efforts to preserve this important part of Palestinian and Nabulsi cultural heritage continue.
Made in a cube-like shape about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) tall and 2.25 by 2.25 inches (5.7 by 5.7 cm) wide, the color of Nabulsi soap is like that of "the page of an old book."
The cubes are stamped on the top with the seal of the factory that produces it.
The soap's sodium compound came from the barilla
plant. Prior to the 1860s, in the summertime, the barilla would be placed in towering stacks, burned, and then the ashes and coals would be gathered into sacks, and transported to Nablus from the area of modern-day Jordan
in large caravans
. In the city, the ashes and coals were pounded into a fine natural alkaline
soda powder called qilw
is still used in combination with lime.
New clock tower at Martyrs Square in downtown Nablus
The city of Nablus is the muhfaza
(seat) of the Nablus Governorate
, and is governed by a municipal council made up of fifteen elected members, including the mayor.
The two primary political parties in the municipal council are Hamas
. In the 2005 Palestinian municipal elections, the Reform and Change list representing the Hamas faction won 73.4% of the vote, gaining the majority of the municipal seats (13). Palestine Tomorrow, representing Fatah, gained the remaining two seats with 13.0% of the vote. Other political parties, such as the Palestinian People's Party
and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
failed to gain any seats in the council, though they each received over 1,000 votes.
Yaish's four-year term legally expired in December 2009. While elections in the West Bank were scheduled for 17 July 2010, they were canceled due to Fatah's lack of agreement on list of candidates. Nablus was one of the most important municipalities where Fatah failed to resolve internal conflicts that resulted in two competing Fatah lists: one headed by former mayor Ghassan Shakaa
and one headed by Amin Makboul.
In the October 2012 municipal elections, Hamas boycotted the polls, protesting the holding of elections while reconciliation efforts with Fatah were at a standstill. Former mayor Ghassan Shakaa, a former local Fatah leader, won the vote as an independent against Fatah member Amin Makboul and another independent candidate.
Modern mayorship in Nablus began in 1869 with the appointment of Sheikh Mohammad Tuffaha by the Ottoman governor of Syria/Palestine. On July 2, 1980, Bassam Shakaa
, then mayor of Nablus, lost both of his legs as a result of a car bombing
carried out by Israeli militants affiliated with the Gush Emunim Underground
The current mayor, Adly Yaish
, a Hamas member, was arrested by the Israel Defense Forces in May 2007, during Operation Summer Rains
, launched in retaliation for the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit
Municipal council members Abdel Jabbar Adel Musa "Dweikat", Majida Fadda, Khulood El-Masri, and Mahdi Hanbali were also arrested.
He spent 15 months in prison without being charged.
A street in Nablus leading to the Old City. Minaret
of An-Nasr Mosque in the background
In 1997, 99.7% of Nablus' 18,003 households were connected to electricity through a public network. Prior to its establishment in 1957, electricity came from private generators. Today, the majority of the inhabitants of 18 nearby towns, in addition to the city's inhabitants, are connected to the Nablus network.
The majority of households are connected to a public sewage system (93%), with the remaining 7% connected through cesspits
The sewage system, established n the early 1950s, also connects the refugee camps of Balata, Askar and Ein Beit al-Ma'.
Pipe water is provided for 100% of the city's households, primarily through a public network (99.3%), but some residents receive water through a private system (0.7%).
The water network was established in 1932 by the British authorities and is fed by water from four nearby wells: Deir Sharaf
Nablus is one of the few cities in the West Bank to have a fire department, which was founded in 1958. At that time, the "fire brigade" (as it was called) was composed of five members and one extinguishing vehicle. In 2007, the department had seventy members and over twenty vehicles. Until 1986, it was responsible for all of the northern West Bank, but today it only covers the Nablus and Tubas Governorates
. From 1997 to 2006, Nablus' fire department extinguished 15,346 fires.
In the early 20th century, Nablus was the southernmost station of a spur from the Jezreel Valley railway
station, itself a spur from the Hejaz railway
. The extension of the railway to Nablus was built in 1911–12.
During the beginning of the British Mandate, one weekly train was operated from Haifa to Nablus via Afula and Jenin
. The railway was destroyed during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War
, and the route of the line bisected by the Green Line
The main Beersheba–Nazareth road
running through the middle of the West Bank ends in Nablus, although thoroughfare of local Arabs is severely restricted. The city was connected to Tulkarm
by roads which are now blocked by the Israeli West Bank barrier
. From 2000 until 2011, Israel maintained checkpoints
such as Huwwara checkpoint
which effectively cut off the city, severely curtailing social and economic travel.
From January 2002, buses, taxis, trucks and private citizens required a permit from the Israeli military authorities to leave and enter Nablus.
Since 2011, there has been a relaxation of travel restrictions and the dismantlement of some checkpoints.
The nearest airport is the Ben Gurion International Airport
, but because of restrictions governing the entry of Palestinians to Israel, and their lack of access to foreign Embassies to get travel visas, many residents must travel to Amman
to use the Queen Alia International Airport
, which requires passage through a number of checkpoints and the Jordanian border. Taxis are the main form of public transportation within Nablus and the city contains 28 taxi offices and garages.
The Nablus football
stadium has a capacity of 8,000.
The stadium is home to the city's football club al-Ittihad
, which is in the main league of the Palestinian Territories.
The club participated in the Middle East Mediterranean Scholar Athlete Games in 2000.
Twin towns and sister cities
- Lille, France
- Nazareth, Israel
- Dublin, Ireland
- Como, Italy
- Naples, Italy
- Toscana, Italy
- Poznań, Poland
- Rabat, Morocco
- Stavanger, Norway
- Khasavyurt, Russia
- Dundee, United Kingdom
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Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Nablus
Last edited on 29 March 2021, at 19:08
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