Jenin is believed to have been built on the site of the ancient city of Ein-Ganam, mentioned in the Egyptian Amarna tablets (see Tell el Amarna), or the biblical town of Ginnat. Once the site of a Byzantine church, now in ruins, Jenin was captured by Christian knights during the Crusades. The town was used as a Turkish-German army base during World War I, became part of the Palestine mandate (1923-48), and was annexed (1950) by Jordan. A center of Palestinian guerrilla activity after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Jenin was occupied by Israel from the Six-Day War (1967) until 1995, when it came under Palestinian control. Jenin was the center of fierce Israeli-Palestinian fighting in 2002, when the town was heavily damaged.
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, the Israel Defense Force invaded the city during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and has conducted regular incursions into the city since.
Jenin was known in ancient times as the Canaanite village of Ein-Ganeem or Tel Jenin. The city of Ein-Ganeem is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the city of the Levites of the Tribe of Issachar. After some years, the city's name was changed to Ginat. In book of Yehudit the settlement is mentioned as Gini. The Jewish historian Josephus also mentioned Ganim as a city in northern Samaria. The modern Arabic name Jenin ultimately derives from this ancient name. The origin of the place as Ein-Ganeem was recognised by Ishtori Haparchi. In the 20th century C.E., the State of Israel built a nearby Israeli settlement, Ganim, also named after the ancient village. This settlement was evacuated in August 2005 as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan. Another Israeli community was also given the name of Ein Ganim, today part of Petah Tikva.
Jenin was a center of civil unrest during the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine which was prompted by the assassination by the British of Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, for whom a Hamas military wing was since named. It was also used by Fawzi al-Qawuqji's partisans. On August 25, 1938, the after the British Assistant District Commissioner was assassinated in his Jenin office, a large British force with explosives entered the town. After ordering the inhabitants to leave, about one quarter of the town was blown up.
In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the city was defended 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 southern entrance of Jenin holds a cemetry of the martyrs of the Iraqi army and some Palestinians who fought with them against the Israeli forces.
The Jenin refugee camp was founded in 1953 to house Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their native villages and towns in the areas that became the Israeli territory during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Following the battle, Jenin fell under the control of the Israeli military. In that time, residents of Jenin have been subject to extended curfews (over 150 days since June 2002, nearly all prior to 2004. Several suspected Palestinian militants and nearby civilians have been killed by the Israel Defense Forces, which terms these actions "targeted killings". 56 Palestinians were killed, the majority combatants, and 23 Israelis. UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) employee Iain Hook was also killed by Israeli troops on November 22, 2002.
List of Jenin mayors:
Municipal elections were held in Jenin on 15 December 2005. Six seats each were won by Hamas and the local coalition of Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Jenin was one of several Palestinian cities where Hamas showed a dramatic growth in electoral support. The mayor of Jenin is Hadem Rida.