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Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic نعلين
 • Also spelled Nilin, Na'alin (official)
Ni'lin View.JPG
Ni'lin is located in the Palestinian territories
Location of Ni'lin within Palestine
Coordinates: 31°56′48″N 35°01′18″E / 31.94667°N 35.02167°E / 31.94667; 35.02167Coordinates: 31°56′48″N 35°01′18″E / 31.94667°N 35.02167°E / 31.94667; 35.02167
Palestine grid 152/150
Governorate Ramallah & al-Bireh
 • Type Municipality
 • Head of Municipality Ayman Nafie[1]
 • Jurisdiction 14,756 dunams (14.8 km2 or 5.7 sq mi)
Population (2006)[2]
 • Jurisdiction 4,573
Name meaning N'alin, from na'l, a sandal[3]

Ni'lin (Arabic: نعلين‎) is a Palestinian town in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate in the central West Bank, located 17 kilometers (11 mi) west of Ramallah. Ni'lin is about 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) east of the 1949 Armistice Line (Green Line) bordered by Deir Qaddis, the Israeli settlements of Nili and Na'ale to the northeast, the village of al-Midya and Modi'in Illit (Kiryat Sefer) settlement bloc are to the south, Budrus (4 km) and Qibya (5 km) villages are located to the northwest. The town's total land area consists of approximately 15,000 dunams of which 660 is urban. Under the Oslo II 93% of town lands has been classed as 'Area C'.[4]

Most of the town's inhabitants rely on agriculture for income and prior to the outbreak of the Second Intifada, many had jobs in construction in Israel.[5] According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of approximately 4,750 inhabitants in mid-year 2006.[6]

Situated 262 meters (860 feet) above sea level, Ni'lin has mild winters and hot, dry summers with temperatures averaging 32 °C (88 °F) during the day.


Potsherds from the late Iron Age (8-7th century B.C.E.), Hellenistic, Byzantine, Crusader/Ayyubid, Mamluk and early Ottoman period have been found.[7]

A person named Isaac de Naelein is mentioned in a Crusader text of the year 1167 in relation to nearby Casale St. Maria (Aboud).[8]

Ottoman era[edit]

In 1517, Ni'lin was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire with the rest of Palestine, and in 1596 it appeared in the tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Ramla of the Liwa of Gaza. It had a population of 72 households, all Muslim. The villagers paid a fixed tax rate of 25% on agricultural products, including wheat, barley, summer crops, olive trees, fruit trees, goats and/or beehives, and a press olives or grapes, in addition to occasional revenues; a total of 3,500 Akçe. All of the revenue went to a Waqf.[9]

In 1838, it was noted as a Muslim village, Na'lin, in the Ibn Humar area in the District of Er-Ramleh.[10][11]

An Ottoman village list of about 1870 showed that Ni'lin had 156 houses and a population of 493, though the population count included only men. It was described as bordering Deir Qaddis.[12][13]

In 1882 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Ni'lin (called N'alin) as a "large village on high ground, surrounded by olives, and supplied by cisterns."[14]

On 28 December 1917, during World War I, the village was captured by the British from Ottoman forces. The British held the line from here eastwards to Beitin and westwards to the coast, north of Jaffa.[15]

British Mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, the village, (named Na'lin), had a population of 1,160 inhabitants, all Muslims,[16] while in the 1931 census the population of Ni'lin was 1249, 1 Christian and the rest Muslim, in 299 inhabited houses.[17]

In 1945 the population of Ni'lin was 1,420, all Muslims,[18] who owned 15,875 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey.[19] Of this, 5,921 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 3,053 dunams were used for cereals,[20] while 29 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[21]

Jordanian era[edit]

In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and after the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Ni'lin came under Jordanian rule.

In 1961, the population of Ni'lin was 2,055.[22]

post 1967[edit]

After the Six-Day War in 1967, Ni'lin has been under Israeli occupation.

After 1995, 93% of town lands has been classed as Area C, while the remaining 7% is Area B. Israel has confiscated Ni'lin land for the construction of three Israeli settlements: 945 dunams were taken for Hashmona'im, 645 dunams for Mattityahu, while 384 dunams went to Modi'in Illit.[4]

Barrier protests[edit]

A quote of Martin Luther King "freedom is never given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed" written on the separation wall in Ni'lin by International Solidarity Movement activist, February 2012

The residents of Ni'lin and international activists, have been staging weekly demonstrations against a nearby expansion of the Israeli West Bank barrier.[23][24] It has been estimated that the completion of the barrier will remove ⅓ of Ni'lin's land.[25]

In the first of escalating incidents at the anti-barrier protest demonstrations led to the fatal shooting of 10-year-old Ahmed Moussa on 29 July 2008.[26][27] The incident occurred when a group of mostly teenage boys had gone to the barrier construction site outside Ni'ilin, where there were no security personnel, the boys began removing razor wire.[28] A preliminary Israeli police probe has found that Israeli border policemen used live ammunition to disperse the group and that one of the bullets likely killed 10 year old Ahmed Moussa.[29] During the demonstration 15 others were injured by rubber coated steel bullets.[30] The funeral of Ahmed Moussa was marred by a distinct up-swing in violence. The permanent stationing of a Border Police force, ordered by OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, on the outskirts of the village where the daily demonstrations are held, infuriated marchers in the funeral procession.[31] Yousef Ahmed Younis Amera, (18), was declared brain dead in a Ramallah hospital on Wednesday 30 July 2008 after being shot in the head with a rubber coated steel bullet and finally died on Monday 4 August 2008.[32][33] On the 5 August 2008 Israeli police said that they had detained a border policeman and placed him under house arrest in connection with the death of 10 year old Ahmed Moussa.[34]

In the second week of August 2008 Twenty-two unarmed civilians (including eight children) were shot with metal-coated rubber bullets at protests in Ni'lin and Bil'in villages (Ramallah).[35] Israeli forces in the occupied territories have begun using a new method of crowd control in Ni'lin. A mix of weak sewage water with animal manure and chemicals has been nicknamed "skunk", due to its powerful smell, the mix induces vomiting when sprayed on demonstrators.[36]

Memorial placed where 36 year old Yousef Aqel Srour was killed in 2009
An Israeli soldier in Ni'lin on 6 February 2009

On 28 December, during a demonstration against the Israeli assault on Gaza that had started the previous day, Mohamed Khawaja (19) was shot in the head by the Israeli military, and Arafat Khawaja (22) was shot in the back.[citation needed] Mohamed Srour was shot in the leg.[citation needed] Arafat died on the scene while Mohamed Khawaja was declared braindead in hospital and died on 31 December.[citation needed] These incidents were brought to the attention of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict by witnesses Mohamed Srour and Jonathan Pollak at the Mission's Public Hearings in Geneva on 5 July 2009.[37]

The regular clashes here came more sharply into the international spotlight when a U.S. citizen named Tristan Anderson, of Oakland, California was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces on 13 March 2009, during demonstrations against the barrier. The impact caused massive damage to Andersons frontal lobe, and to his eye. The 38-year-old Anderson required several brain surgeries at a Tel Aviv hospital.[38][39]

On 5 June 2009, Yousef Aqel Srour (36) was shot with 0.22 caliber live ammunition during a demonstration. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at a hospital in Ramallah.[40]

On 6 November 2009, activists marking the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall managed to topple a small part of the wall that cuts through the village's land; the first time Palestinian demonstrators succeeded in toppling a part of Israel's concrete barrier.[41]

In March 2010, the Israeli army designated Ni'lin, (together with nearby village Bil'in), as closed military area each Friday. This was to last until August, 2010.[42]

Demonstration against the Israeli Separation Wall in Ni'lin, August 2014

Omri Borberg[edit]

Ashraf Abu Rahma of Bil'in

On 7 July 2008 A 17-year-old Salam Kanaan filmed an incident where an Israeli battalion commander (Lt. Col. Omri Borberg of Armored Battalion 71) is filmed holding a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian (Ashraf Abu Rahma of Bil'in) detainee's arm while the subordinate shoots the detainee in the foot.[43][44] A second polygraph test on Tuesday 29 July 2008 has cast doubts on the testimony of Lt. Col Borberg. After meeting with OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, Borberg agreed to take a 10-day leave of absence while IDF Judge Advocate-General (JAG) Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblitt made the decision of whether or not to press charges against the battalion commander.[45] The Battalion commander was accused by the army of "severe moral failure", is to be reassigned to another post and will face the relatively minor charge of "unworthy conduct". Israeli human rights groups B'Tselem, Yesh Din, the Association for Civil Rights, and the Public Committee Against Torture have criticized the Israeli army's disciplining of Borberg as lenient and have asked the Israeli military Judge Advocate General suspend legal proceedings against both the lieutenant colonel involved and Staff Sergeant "L" who fired the shot to enable a challenge to be mounted against the decision to charge the two with the relatively light offense of “inappropriate conduct”.[46][47] The Ha'aretz editorial comments that:

The opportunity to send a message of total intolerance of shooting a person in shackles has been missed.[48]

On 19 August 2008 the Military hearing against Borberg and Staff Sergeant "L" was suspended following the B'Tselem petition.[49] On 28 September the Israeli high court asked the JAG to reconsider the charges against Borberg and Staff Sergeant "L".[50]


  1. ^ Reuters 7 July 2008 Israel ends curfew on Palestinian town By Mohammed Assadi
  2. ^ 2007 PCBS Census. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.114.
  3. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 240
  4. ^ a b Ni’lin Town (Fact Sheet), ARIJ, pp. 16-17
  5. ^ The Environmental status of Ni'lin Village Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) 2008-01-29
  6. ^ Projected Mid-Year Population for Ramallah & Al Bireh Governorate by Locality 2004- 2006
  7. ^ Finkelstein, 1997, pp. 182-183
  8. ^ Röhricht, 1887, p. 294; cited in Finkelstein, 1997, p. 183. See also Röhricht, 1893, RHH, p. 113, No. 433
  9. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 155
  10. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, Appendix 2, p. 121
  11. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, p. 30
  12. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 158
  13. ^ Hartmann, 1883, p. 140, noted 155 houses
  14. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, p. 298
  15. ^ Rickard, J (3 September 2007). "Defence of Jerusalem". History of War. Retrieved 30 December 2017. 
  16. ^ Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Ramleh, p. 22
  17. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 22
  18. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 30
  19. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 67
  20. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 116
  21. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 166
  22. ^ Government of Jordan, Department of Statistics, 1964, p. 15
  23. ^ Guardian We have no alternative than peaceful protest
  24. ^ Guardian It takes a village
  25. ^ The Economist 4 September 2008 The villagers hemmed in
  26. ^ Ha'aretz Palestinian boy, 9, killed during protest at West Bank fence By Avi Issacharoff 29-07-2008
  27. ^ Guardian Wednesday 30 July 2008 Middle East: Palestinian boy, 10, dies as Israeli troops fire on demonstration by Toni O'Loughlin in Jersusalem
  28. ^ Ha'aretz 5 September 2008 About a boy By Amira Hass
  29. ^ Jerusalem Post 30 July 2008 Police, IDF to probe Ni'ilin boy's death By Yaakov Lappin, Tovah Lazaroff & Yaakov Katz
  30. ^ BBC 29 July 2008, Boy killed in West Bank protest
  31. ^ Jerusalem Post 30 July 2008 Riots erupt during funeral in Nil'in By Yaakov Katz
  32. ^ Jerusalem Post 31 July 2008 Border Police probes 2nd serious Ni'lin shooting by Tovah Lazaroff
  33. ^ Jerusalem Post 4 August 2008 B'tselem to call for Ni'lin death probe by Tovah Lazaroff & Yaakov Lappin
  34. ^ Ha'aretz 5 August 2008 Israeli policeman arrested over death of Palestinian boy at Na'alin protest By Yuval Azoulay,
  35. ^ UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Protection of Civilians Weekly Report 6–12 August 2008
  36. ^ Jpost 10 August 2008 Border police use 'Skunk' against crowds
  37. ^ [1] U.N. Webcast 5 July 2009
  38. ^ Haaretz U.S. citizens critically hurt at West Bank protest Associated press 13 march 2009
  39. ^ "Israel's barrier, part 4". (transcript). NPR - National Public Radio (U.S.A.). 9 April 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  40. ^ [2]
  41. ^ [3] 7 Nov. 2009: Twenty years after Berlin, Palestinians crack Israel's wall
  42. ^ Bil'in, Na'alin declared closed military areas each Friday for months, by Amira Hass, 16.03.10, Haaretz
  43. ^ BBC report Barak condemns detainee shooting
  44. ^ Observer 27 July 2008 page 37 cols 4&5 Story behind the shot protester and the teen who caught it on film by Peter Beaumont
  45. ^ Jerusalem Post Polygraph casts doubt on officer's story by Yaakov Katz
  46. ^ Guardian 8 August 2008 Israeli officer to stay in army despite shooting by Toni O'Loughlin
  47. ^ B'Tselem 7 August 2008 B'Tselem press release
  48. ^ Ha'aretz August 2008 Ha'aretz Editorial Just fire a rubber bullet at him? Shooting a shackled and blindfolded person, who is clearly not endangering soldiers, and even shooting in order to frighten, or the threat to shoot in order to frighten, and not even directly at the person's body but only in immediate proximity to him, are all acts forbidden by law, whether military or civil, during times of both war and peace, in Israel or anywhere else where respect for human rights exists.
  49. ^ B'Tselem 19 Aug. 2008: High Court suspends proceedings in Ni'lin shooting case
  50. ^ Ha'aretz 28 September 2008 High Court to IDF: Reconsider bound Palestinian shooting charges


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