Nablus

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Nablus

Nablus (nă´bləs, nä´–), Heb. Shechem, city (2003 est. pop. 127,000), the West Bank. It is the market center for a region where wheat and olives are grown and sheep and goats are grazed. Manufactures include soap made from olive oil and colorful shepherds' coats. The city is linked by highway with Jerusalem.

Nablus, an ancient Canaanite town, has remains dating from c.2000 BC, about the time when the city was held by Egypt. The Samaritans (see under Samaria) made it their capital and built a temple on nearby Gerizim to rival that of Jerusalem. Nablus still has a small community of Samaritans. The city was destroyed (129 BC) by John Hyrcanus I. Under Hadrian it was rebuilt and named Flavia Neapolis, from which the present name derives. Nearby are the reputed sites of the tomb of Joseph and the well of Jacob.

Nablus has long been a center of Arab nationalism, and the city's Palestinian refugee camps exacerbated tensions between residents and Israeli troops after the city came under Israeli occupation following the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. During the Intifada, it was the scene of ongoing violent clashes between Arabs and Jews. Israeli forces left the city in 1995 as part of the agreement establishing Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank. In the renewed violence that began in 2000 the city was again the scene of fighting between Palestinians and Israelis and between Palestinian groups as well.

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