The northernmost city in the West Bank, Jenin has been a lively and important town on the main route from Jerusalem for centuries. The city has been a site of human settlement since the Neolithic period. In the 13th century, the Mamelukes, fearing incursions by the Crusaders, destroyed the coastal towns and built Jenin up into a staging-point for caravans on the route between Damascus and Egypt. Until the early 1930s, the road from Jerusalem to Haifa and Galilee ran through Jenin, but with the development of Haifa as a port, and the construction of the coast road via Hadera, the importance of Jenin declined.

Today it is a scenic city on a hill, overlooking groves of olive, fig, and citrus trees. Jenin is a major centre of trade for the surrounding towns and villages of the north, and the wider governorate. Jenin's old city, with its traditional bustling souk, is just the type of labyrinth you can get happily lost in and remains well off most tourists' radars. The Arab American University and Al-Quds Open University are located in Jenin. Due to its geographical location and its recent history, Jenin faces the two challenges of a tight occupation, which makes the general movement of the people very difficult, with many check points on the roads and dire economic conditions resulting in unemployment for most of the young generation.

Two miles to the south-east is the Haddad Park and Tourist Village which was inaugurated April 5, 2005. The village is considered one of the largest resorts in Palestine, with several utilities; indoor swimming pools for children and adults, playing fields, tennis and volleyball courts, a roman styled theatre and a summer theatre, a restaurant that serves various kinds of western and eastern food, and indoor hall of a large capacity to host different kinds of occasions. The park is distinguished by vast gardens where flowers and green grass flourish among fountains and palm trees.

Jenin has a population of around 50,000 almost a third of whom (14,000) live in the Jenin refugee camp which was established in 1953. There are 300,000 residents in the 82 villages around Jenin.

A mile to the West of Jenin sits the town of Burqin where you will find an ancient church, which is the location of Christ's healing of Ten Lepers (Luke 17). The church contains the cave in which the lepers were quarantined.

 Friends of the Holy Land have supported the Christian youth of this small community around Jenin working in partnership with the Salt of the Earth an ecumenical local NGO driven by the need to provide job opportunities and welfare for the small, vulnerable Christian community in the area. 

Friends of the Holy Land’s mission is to support a sustainable Christian presence.


Christian Community - From the city’s population of 50,000 there are approximately 200 Christians in Jenin, mostly Latin all worshiping at the city's one church, the Latin parish of the Holy Redeemer which also runs a kindergarten. The Parish Priest is Fr Labib D’eibes.

The Italian Congregation of the Daughters of St. Anne came to serve at the end of the 20th century when the parish was served from Nazareth. The buildings of the Jenin mission were built between 1950 and 1963. Christian and Muslim (about 80-90) children attend the kindergarten, which is run by an administration team of a Christian lady, two Muslim and two Christian teachers.

In nearby Burquin you will find a small Greek Orthodox community maybe 20 families, worshipping and caring for The Byzantine-era Burqin Church or St. George's Church one of the oldest churches in the world.

This church is built where the miracle from Luke 17:11-19 took place: Jesus was passing through on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem when he heard cries for help from ten lepers who were living isolated nearby. He encountered them and told them to present themselves to the priests, although they were not yet cured.

On their way their leprosy disappeared. One of them, a Samaritan, returned to Jesus to give thanks. Jesus blamed the nine who did not recognise that their healing was God's gift, faith being the real salvation.



Since this miracle, the church became a place for many Christian pilgrims to visit.


Today, both Christians and Muslims come to worship at the church, symbolising the culture of diversity and tolerance in Burqin.

 

Dima Fiddah, a member of the Salt of the Earth Youth Group, whom Friends of the Holy Land support, speaks to us from this church about the Christian communities in the area.



Now we cross back into Israel as we head to Mt Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus.