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article imageNablus: Present and future of a Palestinian city in the West Bank Special

By Riccardo Valsecchi     Jan 26, 2010 in Travel
Nablus is an ancient Roman town, north of Jerusalem, in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. The city, pointed out by the Israeli Defense Force as one of the epicentre of Islamic Palestinian terrorism, is controlled by Hamas.
Nablus is an ancient Roman town, North of Jerusalem, in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. Known for being the scene of many battles during the Second Intifada, the city is pointed out by the Israeli Defense Force as one of the main areas of Islamic Palestinian terrorism. The city has been controlled by Hamas, the Islamic socio-political organisation in power of the Palestinian National Authority since 2006.
Rajaa Taher is the Director of Public and International Relations Department of Nablus Municipality; she doesn’t wear the hijab, she dresses western clothes, she speaks English and she is not afraid to talk frankly: “It’s not easy to be an emancipated woman and to work for such administration, but the truth is that since Hamas came to power in Nablus, the level of corruption is decreased and the quality of life is better, compared to previous Fatah governments.”
“The town is arising to a new life,” explains Al-Yasmeen Hotel’s manager: “The criminality has been decreased, thanks to Hamas’ Police. At the same time, the business activity has started again and the production of typical local products, such as oil, spices and nablusi (a typical goal cheese), is resuming as well."
The first day of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, is falling down: no food, no drinks, nothing crossing the lips from dawn to sunset. The tempting flavours, the thick scents and the strong colours fill the open market in the historic center of the city: “The happiness and the enthusiasm, that you can see on people’s faces now,” says Abdelafo S. Aker, the young personal assistant of Mrs. Taher, “are destined not to last long. As long as the access road to the city will be controlled by the IDF, the economic possibilities for Nablus's inhabitants will continue to be very few.“
“In this moment,” says the IDF’s spokesperson,Lt. Col. Avidal Lebovich, “Nablus is still one of the most active centre of Palestinian terrorism, due to the extraordinary high percentage of refugees who are living there. It’s well known that in the refugee camps, children are indoctrinated and educated to sacrifice their own life in order to defend Palestinian cause.” Five UNRWA Camps - United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugee - are located around the urban perimeter: 55.000 of 130.000 inhabitants of the city are hosted inside.
Subuh is the director of Balata Camp, which has 23.600 refugees, more than 40 percent under 14 years old. While he is talking, children are playing and screaming among the bottlenecks covered with posters portraying martyrs and suicide bombers holding guns and Kalashnikov: “The Refugee Camps are a plot of land placed at the disposal of UNRWA by the host government for accommodating Palestine refugees and for setting up facilities to cater to their needs. Nothing else. More than 200 children died in Nablus since the beginning of the Second Intifada. Which kind of possibilities can they have in order to survive, if not the school, the sports and the other activities we are working on every day here in the camp?”
More about Palestine, Israel, Ramadan, West bank, Fatah
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