Jenin jĕ´nēn [key], town (2003 est. pop. 34,000), West Bank, at the southern entrance to the Esdraelon Valley and on the northern edge of the Samarian Highlands. It is an important crossroads, urban center, and market town and is also the site of a large Palestinian refugee camp. The town's economy is based on service, craft, some industry, and local agriculture, which produces wheat, barley, olives, dates, figs, and vegetables.

Jenin is believed to have been built on the site of the ancient city of Ein-Ganam, mentioned in the Egyptian Amarna tablets (see Tell el Amarna ), or the biblical town of Ginnat. Once the site of a Byzantine church, now in ruins, Jenin was captured by Christian knights during the Crusades. The town was used as a Turkish-German army base during World War I, became part of the Palestine mandate (1923–48), and was annexed (1950) by Jordan. A center of Palestinian guerrilla activity after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war , Jenin was occupied by Israel from the Six-Day War (1967) until 1995, when it came under Palestinian control. Jenin was the center of fierce Israeli-Palestinian fighting in 2002, when the town was heavily damaged.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: West Bank and Gaza Political Geography