|• Also spelled||Aworta (official)|
|• Jurisdiction||540 dunams (0.5 km2 or 0.2 sq mi)|
Awarta (Arabic: عورتا) is a Palestinian town located 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) southeast of Nablus, in the northern West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of 5,623 inhabitants in 2007. Awarta's built-up area consists of 540 dunams and is governed by a village council.
Awarta has been inhabited since Biblical times and throughout Palestine's rule by the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic Caliphate and during Ottoman rule. Between the 4th and 12th centuries, the town was an important Samaritan center, being the location of one of their main synagogues.
The Hill of Phinehas related in the Bible is associated with the location of the town of Awarta. Three large monuments in the town are attributed to the priestly family of Aaron. According to tradition, they are the burial sites of his sons Ithamar and Eleazar. His grandson Phinehas is believed to be buried at the site alongside his son Abishua — the latter is especially revered by the Samaritans, who believe that he wrote the Torah. The seventy Elders are believed to be buried in a cave near Phinehas' tomb. On the western side of Awarta lies the tomb Muslims attribute to Nabi Uzeir, Ezra the scribe.
Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi records in 1226, while Awarta was under Ayyubid rule, that it was a "village or small town, on the road from Nablus to Jerusalem. There are the tombs of Yusha (Joshua) ibn Nun, and Mufaddal son of Aaron's uncle. These lie in a cave, where the seventy prophets are also buried."
The Palestinian National Authority agreed to ensure free access to these sites as specified in the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
There are frequent reports of violence by Israeli settlers towards Palestinian farmers during the annual olive harvest. However, from 2007, when a group of Israeli activists — Rabbis for Human Rights — agreed to protect the farmers during the harvest, attacks temporarily came to an end.
In 2010, two cousins from Awarta, Salah Qawariq, 18, and Muhammad Qawariq, 19, were killed by IDF soldiers. The autopsies reveal that both had been shot at close range. Palestinian sources claim the teenagers were attacked by settlers, and then executed by Israeli soldiers, while Israeli sources claim their forces were protecting farmers from attack.
Itamar killings aftermath
Awarta made international headlines after the Itamar killings of 11 March 2011, when five members of the same family were murdered in the nearby Israeli settlement Itamar and Awarta was declared a closed military zone, due to suspicions that the perpetrators were residents of the village. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Palestinian sources reported that Israeli military forces took all of Awarta's men in for questioning, including two officers of the Palestinian security forces, making "wholesale arrests". As a reaction to the killings, masked Israeli settlers infiltrated the village and threw stones at homes, before being dispersed by Israeli military forces IDF.
Two young Awarta residents, Hakim Maazan Niad Awad and Amjad Mahmud Fauzi Awad were arrested on 5 and 10 April 2011 and confessed to the murders. Residents of Awarta condemned the murders, including the village council chief, who however voiced doubts over the Israeli findings and claimed that the two suspects confessed to the murders under duress. Hakim Awad and Amjad Awad were indicted before the Samaria Military Court on five counts of murder, stealing weapons, breaking and entering, and conspiracy to commit a crime. They confessed to the murders and did not express regret over their actions. They were sentenced to five consecutive life sentences and another five and seven years respectively in prison.
Awarta has about sixty businesses, most of them active in the fields of trade and small recycling industries. Approximately 40% of the labor force used to work in Israel before the Second Intifada, while 15% worked in the agriculture and animal husbandry sectors. The rate of unemployment is almost 35%. The town does not have a water or sewage utility system. There is a public well that is under the control of the Nablus Municipality. Road networks have been hampered by the IDF due to the area being a militant stronghold. Awarta has three schools - a secondary school for boys, a secondary school for girls and a coeducational primary school.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Awarta.|
- 2007 PCBS Census. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.109.
- Awarta Health Work Committees.
- Biblical Holy Places: An Illustrated Guide (2000) Gonen, Rikva. Paulist Press. pp.44-45. ISBN 080913974
- le Strange, Guy. (1890). Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500 Committee for the Palestine Exploration Fund, p.404.
- Interim Agreement Annex III: Protocol Concerning Civil Affairs.
- Harvesting Unlikely Allies MSNBC. 2007-11-14.
- Palestinian Village Under Siege Following Settler Killings
- IDF Thwarts PA Terror Attack, 2 Terrorists Killed
- Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff: “IDF continues mass West Bank arrests in wake of Itamar massacre”. Haaretz, 15 March 2011
- Yair Altman (14 March 2011). "Hooded settlers throw stones in Palestinian village". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- Greenberg, Hanan (17 April 2011). "Itamar massacre solved; 2 arrested". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- Levy, Elior (17 April 2011). "Awarta stunned over Itamar attack revelation; 'They're just kids'". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- Raved, Ahiya (13 September 2011). "Fogel family murderer gets 5 life sentences". Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- Buchnik, Maor (16 January 2012). "Second Fogel family killer gets 5 life sentences". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2 May 2012.