|• 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.
According to Palestinian historian Mustafa Dabbagh, the name "'Awarta" derives from the Syriac word 'awra, meaning "windowless" or "hidden". According to E. H. Palmer, "Awarta" is a personal name. In Samaritan text, the town was called "Caphar Abearthah". An earlier Arabic name for the village was "'Awert".
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."
Awarta was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 with all of Palestine, and in 1596 it appeared in the tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Jabal Qubal of the Liwa of Nablus. It had a population of 50 households, all Muslim. The villagers paid taxes on wheat, barley, summer crops, olive trees, occasional revenues, goats and/or beehives, and a press for olives or grapes.
In 1838, Edward Robinson noted the village besides Rujeib and Odela. In 1870 Victor Guérin visited the village, and noted that in the upper part there was a mosque, called Djama Mansour, containing a gigantic whitewashed tomb. In 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described it as "a village, on the slopes east of the plain, with springs to the east, and olive-groves. It is built of adobe and stone, and is of moderate size."
British Mandate era
In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Awarta had a population of 938, all Muslims, increasing at the time of the 1931 census to 1,019, still all Muslim, in 257 houses.
In 1945 Awarta together with Odala had a population of 1,470, all Muslims, with 16,106 dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, 30 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 9,406 used for cereals, while 130 dunams were built-up land. In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and after the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Awarta came under Jordanian rule.
After the Six-Day War in 1967, Awarta has been under Israeli occupation along with the rest of the Palestinian territories. 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. On 10 July 2013, Israeli Settlers from IItamar colony cut down thousands of olive trees belonged to Awarta residents, Residents of Itamar settlement used chainsaws to cut down the trees north of Awarta said Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank. The trees belonged to 25 Palestinian families and were planted in a 600-dunum grove, Daghlas said. Sami, Iyad N’am ‘Awwad, 37, and another two farmers drove to the land where the trees had been cut down. According to Iyad, a teacher whose olive trees had been destroyed by the attack, the area where the trees were chopped down is isolated from the rest of the village, separated from it by two security fences erected by ‘Itamar’ settlement.
In 2010, two cousins from Awarta, Salah Qawariq, 18, and Muhammad Qawariq, 19, were killed by an Israeli (IDF) soldier who emptied his magazine, shooting them 29 times. The autopsies reveal that both had been shot at close range. Palestinian sources claim the teenagers were executed by Israeli soldiers, while out working their land. Israeli accounts varied over time: they were on their land when Avri Ran noted them on the property and forced them to sit down, called up a settlement security coordinator, who in turn called the IDF in. After two hours of communications between the soldiers and headquarters, the men were shot: on interrogation the other soldiers said they had not witnessed the shooting. The IDF announced that a terrorist attempt involving an attempt to attack soldiers with a pitchfork had been foiled. This was subsequently revised to an assault with a bottle and a syringe. It emerged later that they had not got IDF clearance to work their land.
Awarta made international headlines after the Itamar attack of 11 March 2011, when five members of the same family were killed in the nearby Israeli settlement of 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 attack, masked Israeli settlers infiltrated the village and threw stones at homes, before being dispersed by the Israel Defense Forces.
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 killings. 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 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 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.
- 2007 PCBS Census. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.109.
- Awarta Health Work Committees.
- "'Awarta Village Profile" (PDF). Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem. 2014.
- Palmer, 1881, p. 225
- Conder, 1876, p. 196
- Biblical Holy Places: An Illustrated Guide (2000) Gonen, Rikva. Paulist Press. pp.44-45. ISBN 978-0-8091-3974-3
- le Strange, 1890, p. 404
- Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 130
- Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, p. 94
- Guérin, 1874, pp. 461 -462
- Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 288
- Barron, 1923, Table IX, Sub-district of Nablus, p. 25
- Mills, 1932, p. 59
- Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 18
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 59
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 105
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 155
- Interim Agreement Annex III: Protocol Concerning Civil Affairs.
- Harvesting Unlikely Allies MSNBC. 2007-11-14.
- Settlers cut down 1,150 olive trees in Nablus
- Israeli Setters Chop Down Some 1,155 Palestinian Olive Trees in ‘Awarta
- Palestinian Village Under Siege Following Settler Killings
- PA accuses Israel of killing Palestinian teens 'in cold blood', Haaretz 21 March 2010.
- John Brown and Noam Rotem, 'License to Kill: Why did the IDF shoot the Qawarik cousins 29 times?,' +972 magazine 19 May 2015.
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Awarta.|
- Barron, J. B., ed. (1923). Palestine: Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1922. Government of Palestine.
- Conder, Claude Reignier; Kitchener, H. H. (1882). The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology 2. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund. (pp. 219)
- Conder, C. R. (1876). "Samarian Topography". Quarterly statement - Palestine Exploration Fund 8: 182–197.
- Department of Statistics (1945). Village Statistics, April, 1945. Government of Palestine.
- Finkelstein, Israel; Lederman, Zvi, eds. (1997). Highlands of many cultures. Tel Aviv: Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University Publications Section. ISBN 965-440-007-3. (p. 706]
- Guérin, Victor (1874). Description Géographique Historique et Archéologique de la Palestine (in French). 2: Samarie, pt. 1. Paris: L'Imprimerie Nationale.
- Hadawi, Sami (1970). Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine. Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center.
- Hütteroth, Wolf-Dieter; Abdulfattah, Kamal (1977). Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft. ISBN 3-920405-41-2.
- Mills, E., ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas (PDF). Jerusalem: Government of Palestine.
- Palmer, E. H. (1881). The Survey of Western Palestine: Arabic and English Name Lists Collected During the Survey by Lieutenants Conder and Kitchener, R. E. Transliterated and Explained by E.H. Palmer. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Robinson, Edward; Smith, Eli (1841). Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai and Arabia Petraea: A Journal of Travels in the year 1838 3. Boston: Crocker & Brewster.
- Strange, le, Guy (1890). Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.