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Jenin (Ar. Janīn) is an Arab town in Samaria, situated in the southern corner of the Jezreel Valley, near the junction of roads running to Haifa, Afulah, Nazareth, and Nablus. At the end of the 19th century, Jenin’s population was below 1,000, but by 1943 had increased to 3,900. In the 1967 census conducted by Israel, the town proper had 8,346 inhabitants; 4,480 more lived in a refugee camp within the municipal confines. Only 90 were Christians, all the rest Muslims.

Jenin’s economy is based mainly on agriculture which utilizes the abundance of springwater and the fertile soil of the vicinity. Before 1948, and again from 1967, the town's position at an important crossroads contributed to its development. It also made it an important base for the Turko-German forces in World War I, until the British Army captured Jenin in September 1918.

In the 1936–39 Arab riots, Jenin lay at the apex of the aggressive Arab triangle (whose other two corners were Tulkarm and Nablus) from which attacks against Jewish villages in the Jezreel Valley were launched. In the Israeli War of Independence, the Arab Liberation Army under Fawzī al-Qāwuqjī set out from Jenin to attack Mishmar Ha-Emek in an effort to break through to Haifa, but was driven back. On June 2, 1948, Jewish units attacked from the north and took most of the town, but had to evacuate it again when overwhelming Iraqi forces arrived to relieve the Arab positions in the hills around.

In the Six-Day War (1967), Jenin constituted a forward Jordanian position. It fell after Israel columns entered the Dotan Valley to its rear and overcame a Jordanian counterattack (June 6, 1967).

Jenin was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority following the 1995 Taba Agreement. During the al-Aqsa Intifada, Jenin was a hotbed of terrorist activity and often targeted by Israeli forces, most notably in Operation Defensive Shield in the spring of 2002.

The controversial film Jenin, Jenin purported to document Israeli atrocities and was banned by the Israel Film Board for its distortions, a decision later overturned by Israel’s Supreme Court.

In 2021, the population of Jenin numbered 332,050 inhabitants (Palestinian figure whose accuracy is questioned).

Jenin is sometimes identified with biblical En-Gannim.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.