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Awarta
Awarta is located in the Palestinian territories
Awarta
Arabic عورتا
Governorate Nablus
Government Municipality
Also spelled Aworta (officially)
Coordinates 32°09′41.20″N 35°17′11.01″E / 32.161444°N 35.2863917°E / 32.161444; 35.2863917Coordinates: 32°09′41.20″N 35°17′11.01″E / 32.161444°N 35.2863917°E / 32.161444; 35.2863917
Population 5,623 (2007)
Jurisdiction

540  dunams (0.5 km²)

Awarta (Arabic: عورتا‎) is a Palestinian town located 8 kilometers (5 mi) southeast of Nablus, in the northern West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of 5,810 inhabitants in 2007.[1] Awarta's built-up area consists of 540 dunams and is governed by a village council.[2]

History

Awarta has been inhabited since the Temple period and throughout Palestine's rule by the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic Caliphate and during Ottoman rule. Between the 4th and 12th centuries, the town was an important Samaritan center, being the location of one of their main synagogues.[3]

The Hill of Phinehas related in the Bible is associated with the location of the town of Awarta. Three large monuments in the town are attributed to family of Aaron. The burial sites of his sons Ithamar and Eleazar are located in the center of the town. On the western side of Awarta lies the tomb of what Muslims attribute to Ezra the scribe. Phineas is believed to buried at the site alongside his son Abishua — the latter is especially revered by the Samaritans, who believe that he wrote the ancient Torah. The 70 Elders are buried in a cave near Phineas' tomb.[3]

Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi records in 1226, while Awarta was under Ayyubid rule, that it was a "village or small town, on the road from Nablus to Jerusalem. There are the tombs of Yusha (Joshua) ibn Nun, and Mufaddal son of Aaron's uncle. These lie in a cave, where also are buried seventy prophets."[4]

The Palestinian National Authority agreed to ensure free access to these sites as specified in the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,[5] but due to the uncertain security situation, the Israel Defense Forces limits visits by Jews to two annual night visit close to the beginning of the month of Av 5th of Shevat on the Hebrew calendar (around June-July January-February).

During the annual olive harvest in November, there are frequent reports of violence by Israeli settlers towards Palestinian farmers. However, from 2007, when a group of Israeli activists — Rabbis for Human Rights — agreed to protect the farmers during the harvest, attacks came to an end.[6]

Economy

Awarta has about sixty businesses, most of them function in the fields of trade and small recycling industries. Approximately 40% of the labor force previously worked in Israel before the Second Intifada, while 15% worked in the agriculture and animal husbandry sectors. The rate of unemployment is almost 35%. The town does not have a water or sewage utility system.[2] There is a public well that is under the control of the Nablus Municipality. Road networks have been hampered by the Israeli Defense Forces due to the area being a militant stronghold. Awarta has three schools - a secondary school for boys, a secondary school for girls and a coeducational primary school.[2]

References

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