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Khan Yunis
Location Khan Yunis.png
Location of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip.
KhanYounis Logo.jpg
Municipal Seal of Khan Younis
Arabic خان يونس
Name meaning "Jonah's Inn"
Governorate Khan Yunis
Government City
Coordinates 31°20′39.55″N 34°18′11.13″E / 31.3443194°N 34.3030917°E / 31.3443194; 34.3030917Coordinates: 31°20′39.55″N 34°18′11.13″E / 31.3443194°N 34.3030917°E / 31.3443194; 34.3030917
Population 179,900 (2006)

54560  dunams (54.56 km²)

Founded in 1917
Head of Municipality Muhammad Jawad Abd Al-Khaliq Al-Farra

Khan Yunis - often spelt Khan Younis or Khan Yunnis - (Arabic: خان يونس‎; literally Jonah's Caravanserai) is a city and adjacent refugee camp in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics the city, its refugee camp, and its immediate surroundings had a total population of 180,000 in 2006.[1] Although Khan Yunis lies only 4 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea the climate of Khan Yunis is semi-arid region with an annual rainfall of approximately 260 mm.

The Constituency of Khan Yunis has five members on the Palestinian Legislative Council. Following the Palestinian legislative election, 2006, there were three Hamas members, including Yunis al-Astal; and two Fatah members, including Mohammed Dahlan.



Before the 14th century, Khan Yunis was a village known as Salqah.[2] To protect caravans, pilgrims and travelers a khan was constructed there by Yunus al-Nûzûri in 789 Hijri / 1387 CE according to an inscription on its main entrance, accounting for the new name of the growing town.[2] (Yunis Ibn Abdallah an-Nawruzi ad-Dawadar was the executive Secretary, one of the high ranking officials of Sultan Barquq and the first Circassian Mamluk Sultan.) The town became an important center for trade and its weekly Thursday market drew traders from neighboring regions. The khan served as resting stop for couriers of the barid, the Mamluk postal network in Palestine and Syria.

The Khan Yunis refugee camp, founded in 1948, initially held 35,000 Palestinian Arabs. By mid-2008 68,324 refugees and their descendants there were registered with UNRWA.[3]


1956 Massacre

Before the Suez War, Khan Yunis was occupied by Egypt. It was the only site in the Gaza strip where the Egyptian army put up any resistance to the Israeli invasion of Gaza, but it surrendered on 3 November 1956. The Israeli Army rounded up residents of the town and the neighbouring refugee camp and shot them on the streets and in their homes. In the subsequent UN investigation, Israel claimed the casualties were due to resistance, but according to Moshe Dayan's diary, there "was only one case where our troops were fired on from an Arab house - they were Fedayeen in hiding."[4] This massacre was reported to the UN General Assembly on 15th December 1956 by the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Henry Labouisse, who reported from "trustworthy sources" that 275 people were killed in the massacre of which 140 were refugees and 135 local residents.[5][6]

In 1967, during the Six Day War Israel occupied Khan Yunis.

Second Intifada

Khan Yunis was the site of Israeli helicopter attacks in August 2001 and October 2002 that left several civilians killed, hundreds wounded and civilian buildings within the vicinity destroyed. It is known as a stronghold of Hamas which is recognised as a terrorist group by many countries.[7]

The northern part of Khan Yunis overlooks the Kissufim junction — formerly one of the main roads for Israeli traffic to Gush Katif settlement. Buildings there had often been used by militants as sniping posts and mortar bases to shoot at Israeli settlements and soldiers.

From Khan Yunis' northern buildings, two Islamic militants killed an Israeli civilian Tali Hatuel on May 2, 2004, forcing her and her four daughters off the road and shooting them at close range. The next week, her memorial service was attacked at the same site. One building was also used as cover for an explosive-laden tunnel, which blew up an Israeli (IDF) occupation outpost on June 27 of that year. After each attack, the Israeli Defence Forces bulldozed some of the structures used by the militants.

On December 16, 2004, the Israel Defense Forces raided the town with armoured bulldozers and tanks in order to stop mortar shelling of Israeli towns. In the six weeks before the operation about 80 mortar shells and Qassam rockets had hit the Gush Katif settlement. Khan Yunis have been the target of frequent raids by the Israeli defence forces, and heavy battles have ensued in the area. In 2005, Israel attempted to isolate the area ,but they didn't succeed because of Hamas resistance. In 2006 Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip. Since Israel's 2005 Gaza Disengagement, over 2,000 Qassam rockets have been launched from Khan Yunis into Israel, mostly to the Southern Israeli city of Sderot. In January 2009, members of the Shurrab family were killed by Israeli Defence Force members during a "lull" in fighting in the war in Gaza.

See also


  1. ^ Projected Mid -Year Population for Khan Yunis Governorate by Locality 2004- 2006
  2. ^ a b Sharon, 1997, p. 229.
  3. ^ Refugee Camps in the Gaza Strip
  4. ^ Love, Kennett (1969). Suez: The Twice-Fought War. New York: McGraw Hill. pp. 552-553.  
  5. ^ UNRWA Report to the UN General Assembly November 1 – December 14, 1956
  6. ^ Sacco, Joe (2009). Footnotes in Gaza: A Graphic Novel. Metropolitan Books. ISBN 978-0805073478.  
  7. ^ Guardian


External links


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