|• ISO 259||ʔiˁblin|
|Grid position||168/247 PAL|
|• Type||Local council|
|• Total||18,000 dunams (18 km2 or 7 sq mi)|
I'billin (Arabic: إعبلين, Hebrew: אִעְבְּלִין) is an Arab town in the Northern District of Israel, near Shefa-'Amr. In 2017 its population was 12,990. 'Ibillin was granted municipal status in 1960. The municipality's area is 18,000 dunams. The town has a mixed population of Muslims and Christians.
Nasir Khusraw visited the place in 1047 C.E.: "From Damum we passed south to another village, called A'bilin, where there is the tomb of Hud -peace be upon him! -which I visited. Within the enclosure here is a mulberry tree, and there is likewise the tomb of the prophet Uzair -peace be upon him! -which I also visited."
In 1760, a traveller between Acre and Nazareth noted "the castle of Abelin, on a beautiful eminence; and a town close to it, which is governed by Joseph Omar, brother of the chief of Acre". The castle, still standing in the town, is probably from the eighteenth century.
In 1848 William F. Lynch met there Aqil Agha, and made him their guide for an American expedition to the River Jordan. The population in 1859 was stated by Consul Rogers to have been 800 souls, and the tillage fifty feddans.
In 1875, the French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village. He estimated the population at 600, divided equally between Moslems and "Greek Christians", the latter subdivided into Melkite and "Greek Orthodox Christians. He noted that the latter had a church dedicated to St. George.
In 1881, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described it as "A village on high ground with gardens beneath it on the south, and a spring ('Ain 'Afieh) about half a mile to the south. There is a minaret to the mosque which is a conspicuous object." According to an Arabic inscription on the mosque, the construction of the mosque and the remains of a fortification in the village are credited to Yusef el-Omar, a Zaydani family member and brother of the 18th century ruler of the Galilee, Zahir al-Umar. According to the SWP, "The houses in the village are principally of stone; wells occur south of the hill, with olives near them. Some of the inhabitants are Greek Christians."
A population list from about 1887 showed that Abelin had about 745 inhabitants; 400 Greek Catholic Christians, 70 Catholic Christians, 30 Latin Christians and 245 Muslims.
British Mandate era
In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, I'billin had 528 Christians and 289 Muslims, a total population of 817. Of the Christians, 410 were Orthodox, 111 Melkite and 7 Anglicans. In the 1931 census 'Arab El Hujeirat was counted together with I'billin, and the census found 663 Christians and 453 Muslims, a total 1116 persons, in 192 houses.
In the 1945 statistics the population of I'billin was 1,660; 1,060 Christians and 600 Muslims, who owned 18,632 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey. 2,367 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 8,628 used for cereals, while 95 dunams were built-up (urban) land.
1948, and aftermath
I'billin was captured by the Israeli army during the first phase of Operation Dekel, 8–14 July 1948. Most of the Muslim population were expelled and replaced by Christians from neighbouring villages. The town was regularly searched for people who were not registered in the November 1948 census. On 8 January 1949 villagers from I'billin were amongst a group of 128 men, women and children, who were expelled into the West Bank at 'Ara. The town remained under Martial Law until 1966.
In 1965 Abuna Elias Chacour, an Arab Christian from Kafr Bir'im, later Archbishop of Galilee, established a school open to all local children, regardless of religious affiliation. This developed into the Mar Elias Educational Institutions, an educational complex consisting of a kindergarten, elementary school, junior high school, high school, college and university. The educational complex is located on Jabal al-Ghoul (Hill of Demons), on property belonging to the Melkite Church. The hill has been renamed Jabal al-Nour (Hill of Light).
"Mar Elias University" was established in 2003, claiming to be the first Arab university in Israel, though it is not officially holding a University status. It is recognized by the Council for Higher Education in Israel as a campus and operates as a branch of the University of Indianapolis in the United States.
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