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For the tree Manilkara bidentata and its natural latex, see Balatá.
Balata Camp
Sumayya and her cat in front of her demolished home 2002, 2nd Intifada.jpg
Girl in front of her demolished home in Balata, 2002, 2nd Intifada.
Balata Camp is located in the Palestinian territories
Balata Camp
Arabic مخيم بلاطة
Governorate Nablus
Government Refugee Camp (from 1950)
Coordinates 32°12′23.06″N 35°17′11.70″E / 32.2064056°N 35.286583°E / 32.2064056; 35.286583Coordinates: 32°12′23.06″N 35°17′11.70″E / 32.2064056°N 35.286583°E / 32.2064056; 35.286583
Population 17,650 (2006)

Balata Camp (Arabic: مخيم بلاطة‎) is a Palestinian refugee camp established in the northern West Bank in 1950, adjacent to the city of Nablus. It currently houses 17,645 registered Palestinian refugees. Residents of the camp suggest that the number of residents is closer to 30,000. It is currently the largest refugee camp in the West Bank.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) funds a school in the Balata camp, with approximately 4,000 pupils.[1]

Balata Camp is one of the most densely populated locations on Earth. Less than two square kilometers in size, 30,000 people live in its concrete block houses. The layout of the camp is a product of its creation. In 1950, the UN gave the refugees from the Jaffa area temporary housing. These people initially refused the UN's offers, stating their eagerness to return to their homes. They desired no sense of permanence. After two years, these refugees accepted the UN's offer and settled at Balata.[1]

In 1956, the Jaffa refugees desired more permanent housing. The border with the recently created State of Israel having been sealed, the refugees accepted the UN's offer to build concrete structures in place of the refugee's tents. Balata camp today is so dense because these concrete structures were built on the actual plots families had been given for refugee's tents. There are some alleyways in the camp that are so narrow that large people cannot traverse them.[1]

Balata Camp early 1950s.


Intifada history

Balata Camp residents took leading roles in both Palestinian Intifadas, the First Intifada in the late 1980s through the early 1990s and the Second Intifada in the first five years of the new millennium. In 1987, when people in the Gaza Strip ignited the First Intifada, Balata camp was the first community in the West Bank to engage in violence.

During the course of the al-Aqsa Intifada, the IDF has developed various tactics, like "traveling through walls", that allow them to enter the camp without suffering many casualties. In the traveling through walls tactic, Israeli soldiers enter a home on the edge of the camp in cover of night, and proceed to blow holes through the walls of homes down a given street, using the homes as shields against Palestinian fire.

See also


External links

32°12′N 35°17′E / 32.2°N 35.283°E / 32.2; 35.283;



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