Dundee–Nablus Twinning Association
رابطة توأمة نابلس دندي
History of Nablus
Nablus was one of the cities of the Canaanites whose history goes back to 3,000 years BC. It was then called Shakeim (the high place) on top of Balata Hill.
Because of its position among the countries of the ancient world Nablus was influenced by the cultures of ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines. According to the Bible, Jesus stopped here for a drink at Jacob’s Well.
The Romans demolished the city in the 69AD, and in 72AD Vespasian, the Roman emperor, reconstructed an adjacent city that he called ‘Neapolis’ (the new city); hence the name Nablus.
In 636AD Islamic rule came when Nablus was “opened” by Amir bin el As during the caliphate of Abu Bakir. Islamic rule continued until Nablus was taken by the Crusaders in 1100. It was recaptured by Saladin 87 years later in the battle of Hittin.
The Tartars ruled Nablus after the fall of Baghdad in 1260, only to be recaptured by the Mamluks, who revived the city and provided it with numerous mosques and schools.
In 1517 the Ottomans occupied Nablus and ruled until the area was invaded by the British in September 1918. In 1927 the area was destroyed by an earthquake which ruined 300 buildings, killed 150 people and injured 250. British rule covered all Palestine (including Nablus, Jerusalem and all the lands of modern Israel and Jordan). The British withdrew after the United Nations, in 1947, passed a Resolution which allocated part of the country to Israel and part (including Nablus) to Palestine.
Following British withdrawal there was considerable fighting. Many Palestinians fled from their homes to refugee camps where most remain to this day. Palestinians call this the catastrophe (Nakba). It had a profound effect on Nablus which came under Jordanian rule.
June 1967 and the Six Day War brought Nablus under Israeli military occupation. The Oslo accords of the early 90s resulted in official withdrawal of Israeli forces from the city in December 1995. However, Israeli army incursions continued and Nablus still hosts several refugee camps. It was cut off from the rest of Palestine by Israeli military checkpoints for almost 8 years and this severely curtailed its traditional commercial activity.
Recent relaxations have led to more visitors, more trade and a general improvement. But all foreign visitors and all import/exports still have to go through Israeli border controls which continues to inhibit tourism and trade.