Founded by the Roman Emperor Vespasian in 72 CE as Flavia Neapolis, the city has been ruled by many empires over the course of its almost 2,000 year long history. In the 5th and 6th centuries, conflict between the city's Christian and Samaritan inhabitants climaxed in a series of Samaritan revolts against Byzantine rule, before their violent quelling in 529 CE drastically dwindled that community's numbers in the city. In 636, Neapolis, along with most of Palestine, came under the rule of the Islamic Arab Caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab; its name Arabicized to Nablus, many of its churches and Samaritan synagogues gradually converted into mosques. In 1099, the Crusaders took control of the city for less than a century, leaving its mixed Muslim, Christian and Samaritan population relatively undisturbed. After Saladin's Ayyubid forces took control of the interior of Palestine in 1187, Islamic rule was reestablished, and continued under the Mamluk and Ottoman empires to follow.
Following its incorporation into the Ottoman empire in 1517, Nablus was designated capital of the Jabal Nablus ("Mount Nablus") district. In 1657, after a series of upheavals, a number of Arab clans from the northern and eastern Levant were dispatched to the city to reassert Ottoman authority, and loyalty from amongst these clans staved off challenges to the empire's authority by rival regional leaders, like Dhaher al-Omar in the 18th century, and Muhammad Ali—who briefly ruled Nablus—in the 19th century. When Ottoman rule was firmly reestablished in 1841, Nablus prospered as a center of trade. After the loss of the city to British forces during World War I, Nablus was incorporated into the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922, and later designated to form part of the Arab state of Palestine under the 1947 UN partition plan. The end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War saw the city instead fall to Jordan, to which it was unilaterally annexed, until its occupation by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.
Today, the city's population is predominantly Muslim, with small Christian and Samaritan minorities. Since 1995, day-to-day administration is the purview of the Palestinian National Authority, though Israel retains control over entrances and exits to the city. There are three Palestinian refugee camps located around Nablus, established in 1949–50. In the Old City, there are a number of sites of archaeological significance, spanning the 1st to 15th centuries. Regionally famous for its native sweet kanafeh and traditionally well-known for its soap industry, Nablus' main economic sectors are in industry and commerce.
Flavia Neapolis ("new city of the emperor Flavius") was founded by the Roman emperor Vespasian on the site of the Samaritan village Mabartha ("the passage") in 72 CE. Located between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, the site lies two kilometers west of the Biblical city of Shechem, which was destroyed by the Romans that same year during the First Jewish-Roman War. Holy places at the site of the city's founding include Joseph's Tomb and Jacob's Well. Due to the city's strategic geographic position and the abundance of water from nearby springs, Neapolis prospered, accumulating extensive territory, including the former Judean toparchy of Acraba.
During Emperor Hadrian's rule, a grand theater was built in Neapolis with a capacity of 7,000 people. Because the city was hostile to emperor Septimius Severus, he temporarily deprived it of its municipal status in 145 CE. 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 birthplace of Justin Martyr, who was brought up as a pagan but later converted to Christianity, it is certain that Nablus had a bishop in 314 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.
However, the conflict did not grow into civil strife. As tensions amongst 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, Ithamar and Phinehas. 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 confiscated 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 Samartian revolt which took place under the leadership of Julian Ben Saba 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.
Neapolis, along with most of Palestine, was conquered by the Arabs under Khaled ibn al-Walid — a general of the Muslim Rashidun army of Umar ibn al-Khattab — in 636 after the Battle of Yarmouk. The Arabs retained the city's name in its Arabicized form, Nablus.
Nablus prevailed as an important trade center during the centuries of Islamic rule under the Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid dynasties. Under Muslim rule, Nablus contained a diverse population of Arabs and Persians, Muslims, Samaritans, Christians and Jews. In the 10th century, Arab geographer al-Muqaddasi, upon seeing a bustling Nablus, nicknamed the city "little Damascus".
The city was occupied by Crusaders without a battle, in 1099 under the command of Prince Tancred and renamed Naples. The Muslim 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 a general social-religious council in Nablus to discuss improper religious customs.
During the second half of Crusader reign in Nablus, Muslim forces began launching incursions in order to regain control of the city. In 1137, Arab and Turkish troops stationed in Damascus made an incursion into Nablus, killing many Christians and burning down the city's churches, but were unsuccessful in this bid to retake the city.
Queen Melisende of Jerusalem resided in Nablus from 1150 to 1161, after she was granted control over the city so as to resolve a dispute with her son Almaric I. Crusaders began building Christian institutions in Nablus, including a church dedicated to the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, and in 1170 they also erected a hospice for pilgrims.
Crusader rule came to an end in 1187, when the Ayyubids under Saladin captured the city. According to a liturgical manuscript in Syriac, Latin Christians fled Nablus, but the original Eastern Orthodox Christian inhabitants remained. After its recapture by the Muslims, several Crusader churches were converted to mosques. The city's cathedral was transformed into the Great Mosque of Nablus by the Ayyubids who also built a mausoleum in the old city. Yaqut al-Hamawi wrote of Nablus under Ayyubid rule as being a "celebrated city in Filastin (Palestine)... having wide lands and a fine district". He also mentions the large Samaritan population in the city.
The Mamluks converted the Samaritan synagogue built in 362 CE by the high priest Akbon into al-Khadra Mosque and did the same to two Crusader churches which became the an-Nasr Mosque and al-Masakim Mosque. The Mamluk dynasty gained control of Nablus in 1260 and during their brief reign, they built numerous mosques and schools in the city. Under Mamluk rule, Nablus possessed running water, many Turkish bathes and exported olive oil and soap to Egypt, 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 visited Nablus in 1355, and described it as a city "full of trees and streams and full of olives". He points out that it grew and exported carob jam to Cairo and Damascus.
After decades of minor upheavals and rebellions mounted by some of the Arab tribes in the Middle East, the Ottomans attempted to reassert centralized control over the Arab vilayets. In 1657, they sent an expeditionary force of local Ottoman-aligned Arab families based in various Syrian cities to pacify Nablus. In return for their services, the families 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 clusters of clans. The 1657 campaign succeeded and the Syrian Arab families began to have a foothold in Nablus' affairs. The largest family were the Nimrs, who originated from villages surrounding Hama and Hims. The other two prominent families were the Jarrars from Balqa and the Tuqans from northern Syria. Eventually gaining the role of nahiya chiefs, they began intermarrying with local merchant and leading religious families. Thus, these new families were integrated into Nablus' population. Under an arrangement in 1723, the Tuqans and the Nimrs would share and trade leadership of Nablus, and the Jarrars would "indisputably" become the chiefs of the nahiya of Jabal Nablus.
In the mid-1700s, Dhaher al-Omar, an Arab native and ruler of the Galilee and Acre who was hostile toward Ottoman rule, rose to become the most dominant figure in northern Palestine. In order to build up his army, he strove to gain monopoly control over the cotton and olive oil trade of the Levant, which Jabal Nablus fueled. In 1771, during a Mamluk invasion of Syria, al-Omar aligned himself with the Mamluks, allowing him to temporarily besiege Nablus, without gaining ultimate control over the city. In 1773, he again led his army to besiege Nablus, but again to no avail. Nevertheless, from a political perspective, the sieges did succeed in raising Acre's prominence at Nablus' expense. Al-Omar's successor, Jezzar Pasha, maintained Acre's dominance over Nablus. After his reign ended in 1804, Nablus regained its original autonomy, and the Tuqans, who represented a principal opposing force to Acre's dominance over Nablus, rose to power.
After the Egyptians declared independence from Ottoman rule under the leadership of Muhammad Ali, they went on to conquer Palestine in 1831-32. A repressive policy of conscription and taxation was instituted which led to a revolt launched by the prominent Arab clans of Nablus, Hebron and the Jerusalem-Jaffa area. On May 19, 1834, the clans, led by Qasim al-Ahmad — the chief of nahiya Jamma'in — notified Egyptian officials that Arab families would no longer supply the Egyptian army with troops. Governor Ibrahim Pasha responded by sending Egyptian forces into the rebelling cities, thus triggering armed conflict with the clans. Nablus sent hundreds of rebels to attack Jerusalem, aided by the Abu Ghosh clan, and they conquered the city on May 31, but were routed out by Ibrahim's forces the next month. The Egyptians then forced the heads of the Nablus clans to leave for nearby villages, and executed Qasim al-Ahmad and his two eldest sons.
The Egyptian occupation of Palestine resulted in the destruction of Acre and thus, the political importance of Nablus increased. The Ottomans wrested back control of Palestine from the Egyptians in 1840-41. As a result, the Abd al-Hadi clan, who originated in Arrabah in the Sahl Arraba region in northern Samaria, rose to prominence. Loyal allies of Jezzar Pasha and the Tuqans, they gained the governorship of Jabal Nablus and other sanjaqs.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Nablus was the principal trade and manufacturing center in Palestine. 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 fueled other related industries such as soap-making and basket weaving. The city also was the top producer of cotton in the Levant, topping the production from 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.
During World War I, British and Arab forces fought together to defeat Ottoman forces in the Sinai and Palestine campaign. Despite British assurances for Arab independence, as outlined in the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, Palestine became a British Mandate as assigned by the League of Nations in 1922. An earthquake in Palestine in 1927 destroyed many of the Nablus' historic buildings, including the an-Nasr mosque. Though they were subsequently rebuilt by the Amin al-Husayni's Supreme Muslim Council in the mid-1930s, their previous "picturesque" character was lost. During British rule, Nablus emerged as a site of local resistance and the old city quarter of Qaryun was demolished by the British during the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine.
Jewish immigration to Palestine did not significantly impact the demographic composition of Nablus, as was the case for Palestine's coastal cities, Jerusalem, and the Galilee. As such, Nablus was to be included within the boundaries of the Arab state envisioned by the United Nations General Assembly's 1947 partition plan for Palestine. Tensions between the Arabs and the Jews exploded into the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. After Israel declared its independence as a Jewish state, Transjordan, one of the Arab countries participating in the war, occupied Nablus along with all of the present-day West Bank and East Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinians fleeing towns captured by Israel settled into refugee camps around Nablus and in Nablus itself. Three such camps still located within the city limits today are Ein Beit al-Ma', Balata and Askar.
In 1967, after tensions between Israel and the Arabs grew dramatically due to a number of factors, Israel attacked Egypt's air force bases in a pre-emptive strike. As a result, a coalition of Arab states immediately went to war against Israel. The Six-Day War ended in a swift Israeli victory and the occupation of several Arab territories, including the West Bank and thus, Nablus. Many Israeli settlements were built around Nablus during the 1980s and early 1990s. Jurisdiction over the city was handed over to the Palestinian National Authority on December 12, 1995, as a result of the Oslo Accords Interim Agreement on the West Bank.
Nablus has been a central flashpoint of violence between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian militant groups. The level of violence dramatically increased from 2000 at the start of the Second Intifada. The city and the refugee camps of Balata and Askar constituted the center of "knowhow" for the production and operation of the rockets in the West Bank.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 522 residents of Nablus and surrounding refugee camps, including civilians, were killed and 3,104 injured during IDF military operations against militants during the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005. Israeli soldiers and settlers have also been killed by Palestinian militants from Nablus. In April 2002, following the Passover massacre — an attack by Palestinian militants that killed 30 Israeli civilians — Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield, a major military operation in which Nablus was one of the main targets. At least 80 Palestinians, most of them fighters, were killed in Nablus during the operation and several houses were destroyed or severely damaged. The IDF also imposed a curfew on Nablus lasting between April 4 and April 22. 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.
Several historic buildings from the 1st to 15th century were severely damaged during IDF incursions. Israeli activists from Gush Shalom reported in April 2002, that IDF bulldozers destroyed 85% of al-Khadra Mosque and 20% of the Great Mosque and al-Satoon Mosque. The Greek Orthodox Church, located in Yasmin quarter, was also 40% destroyed and rendered unsafe for use. At least 60 houses from different historic periods were totally destroyed, and at least 80% of the renovated stone-paved streets of Nablus' old city were "totally damaged". The al-Shifa hammam was hit by three rockets from Apache helicopters, the eastern entrance of the Khan al-Tujjar (old market) was completely destroyed, and three soap factories were completely destroyed, at least partly by F-16 bombings. The cost of the damage to the old city has been estimated at $80 million US.
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 Judea to the south through the mountains. The city stands at an elevation of around above sea level, in a narrow valley running roughly east-west between two mountains: Mount Ebal, the northern mountain, is the taller peak at , while Mount Gerizim, the southern mountain, is high.
Nablus is located east of Tel Aviv, Israel, west of Amman, Jordan and approximately north of Jerusalem. Nearby cities and towns include Huwara and Aqraba to the south, Beit Furik to the southeast, Tammun to the northeast, Asira ash-Shamaliya to the north and Kafr Qaddum and Tell to the west.
In the center of Nablus, lies its old city. It is 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 the prominent families residing therein are 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, al-Hanbali, al-Anbia, Ajaj, etc.
There are six hamaams (Turkish bathes) in the Old City, the most prominent of them being al-Shifa and al-Hana. Al-Shifa Hamaam 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. There are a number of historic monuments in the old city including the Khan al-Tujjar and the al-Manara Clocktower. The latter was built in 1906 on the orders of the Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II. Saraya Square in the old city is home to the former offices of the Ottoman government.
Nablus has a very large number of youths, approximately half of population being 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%).
The majority of the city's inhabitants today are Muslim, but there are small Christian and Samaritan communities as well. 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 Greek Orthodox families, about thirty 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 a Greek Orthodox church dedicated Saint Justin Martyr, built in 1898 and the ancient Samaritan synagogue, which is still in use.
The Ottoman government vigorously ensured adequate safety and funding for the annual pilgrimage caravan (qafilat al-hajj) from Damascus to the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. This policy greatly benefited Nablus economically. From the very beginning of Ottoman rule, 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 Ibn Abdullah, was appointed leader of the pilgrimage caravan (amir al-hajj), and he constructued 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, from 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 groves, fig and pomegranate 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 kilograms of the product by 1837.
Nablus is a commercial trade center dealing in traditional industries 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 city is also a regional trading center for live produce. Most of these industries are centered in the old city.
The Vegetable Oil Industry Co. is a Nablus factory which deals with refining 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.
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 Nablus' workforce has been employed in agriculture and local trade. The city's unemployment rates have increased dramatically in recent years, rising from 14.2% in 1997 to an estimate of 60% in 2004. Unemployment in the old city and in the refugee camps is estimated to be as high as 80%. Due to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Nablus has been closed off by the IDF. The city's encirclement with checkpoints is cited by the United Nations as a reason for high unemployment and a "devastated" economy. Many businesses have either moved from or have been established outside Nablus, beyond the tight ring of closures around the city.
Nablus is home to the Palestine Securities Exchange (PSE) — the only securities exchange in the Palestinian territories — and the al-Quds Financial Index. They are 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 and its culture enjoy a certain renown throughout Palestine and the Arab world with significant and unique contributions to Palestinian culture, cuisine and costume. Nabulsi, meaning "from Nablus", is used to describe items such as handicrafts (e.g. Nabulsi soap) and food products (e.g. Nabulsi cheese) that are made in Nablus or in the traditional Nablus style.
Kanafeh is the most famed Nabulsi sweet. Originating in Nablus during the 1400s, by 1575, its recipe was exported throughout the Ottoman Empire — which controlled Palestine at the time. Kanafeh 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. Though it is now made throughout the Middle East, to the present day, kanafeh Nabulsi enjoys continued fame, partly due to its use of a white-brine cheese called jibneh Nabulsi. Boiled sugar is used as a syrup for kanafeh.
Other sweets made in Nablus include baklawa, mabrumeh and ghuraybeh, a plain pastry made of butter, flour and sugar in an "S"-shape, or shaped as fingers or bracelets.
Made in a cube-like shape about 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. Today, qilw is still used in combination with lime.
There are two primary political parties represented in the municipal council: Hamas and Fatah. 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 12.7% 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.
Elected Candidates of the Nablus municipal elections of 2005
|1||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Adly Yaish|
|2||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Hafez Shaheen|
|3||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Nihad Masri|
|4||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Mahdi Hanbali|
|5||Palestine Tomorrow (Fatah)||Yahya Arafat|
|6||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Kholood Masri|
|7||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Majeda Fadda|
|8||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Rula Kanaan|
|9||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Husam Eddine Kataloni|
|10||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Anan Ghazal|
|11||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Ghassan Johari|
|12||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Mazen al-Sharif|
|13||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Fayyad Aghbar|
|14||Reform and Change (Hamas)||Abdel Jabbar Adel Musa “Dweikat”|
|15||Palestine Tomorrow (Fatah)||Sa’id Hindiyyeh|
The current mayor, Adly Yaish, a Hamas member, was arrested by the Israel Defense Forces on May 23, 2007, during an over-night raid in the West Bank, which the Israeli authorities stated was in retaliation for the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas. Municipal council members Abdel Jabbar Adel Musa "Dweikat" and Mahdi Hanbali were also arrested.
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 was 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.
Unlike other localities within the governorate (excluding refugee camps), the majority of the city's households are connected to a public sewage system (93%), with the reminaing 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, Far'a, al-Badan and Audala.
The main Ramallah-Nablus road running through the middle of the West Bank ends in Nablus. The city is connected to Tulkarm, Qalqilya and Jenin through western offshoots from the main road. The Israeli checkpoints of Beit Iba, at-Tur, Huwwara and Beit Furik around Nablus hamper the travel of residents to and from the city. The checkpoints were established by Israel after the signing of the Oslo Accords, which gave Palestinians complete authority over the city and its vicinity. Since January 2002, buses, taxis, trucks and private travelers are obligated to obtain a permit from the Israeli military authorities before leaving or entering Nablus.
The nearest airport is the Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, Israel, but because of restrictions governing the entry of Palestinians to Israel, residents often travel to Amman, Jordan to use the Queen Alia International Airport. Taxis are the main form of public transportation within Nablus and the city contains 28 taxi offices and garages.