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Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic سنجل
 • Also spelled Senjel (official)
Sanjil (unofficial)
The lower houses are Turmus Ayya, the houses on the top are Sinjil
The lower houses are Turmus Ayya, the houses on the top are Sinjil
Sinjil is located in the Palestinian territories
Location of Sinjil within the Palestinian territories
Coordinates: 32°01′59″N 35°15′51″E / 32.03306°N 35.26417°E / 32.03306; 35.26417Coordinates: 32°01′59″N 35°15′51″E / 32.03306°N 35.26417°E / 32.03306; 35.26417
Palestine grid 175/160
Governorate Ramallah & al-Bireh
 • Type Municipality
 • Head of Municipality Imad al-Din Masalmeh
Population (2006)
 • Jurisdiction 5,236
Name meaning Saint Gilles[1]

Sinjil (Arabic: سنجل‎‎) is a Palestinian town 21 kilometers (13 mi) northeast of Ramallah in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate in the central West Bank. The village is bordered by Turmus Ayya and the Israeli settlement of Shilo.


Sherds from the Intermediate Bronze Age, Bronze Age, Byzantine, Crusader/Ayyubid and Mamluk eras have been found.[2] Tombs at Sinjil from the Middle Bronze Age have yielded an array of metal weapons.[3]

The village is thought to have taken its name from the Crusader town of St. Gilles,[1] being the home town of French Count Raymond VI of Toulouse [4] who camped here on the first crusade, before entering Jerusalem.[5] The same man later built a castle in Sinjil to protect the passage of passing caravans.[6]

Doubt over the Crusader origin of the name was raised by historian Levy-Rubin.[7] A Samaritan chronicle, (ostensibly by Abu l-Fath), written in the 14th century but based on much older sources, twice refers to a location Sinḥil in the 8th or 9th century.[7] The Arab geographer Zakariya al-Qazwini in his Athar al-bilad cited a 10th-century mention of Sinḥil, though this cannot be verified from extant manuscripts.[7] Levy-Rubin proposes that Sinḥil was the original name of Sinjil, and that the Crusaders' association of the place with St Gilles was prompted by the Arab name rather than the reverse.[7]

In the 1220s Yaqut al-Hamawi described Sinjil as "a small town of the province Filastin. Near it is the pit of Yasuf as Sadik (Joseph)".[8]

Crusader church (present mosque)[edit]

The village paid ecclesiastical tithes to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem while a Frankish parish, until they were transferred in 1145 to the monastery on Mount Tabor.[9][10][11]

Only thirty years later, in 1175, the Parish Church and tithes were sold back to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as the distance (from Mount Tabor) and expenses were too high.[11][12] A month later the sale was confirmed by Baldwin, lord of Sinjil.[11][13]

Ottoman era[edit]

In 1517 the village was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire with the rest of Palestine. In 1596 it appeared in the tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Quds of the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 55 households, all Muslim, and paid taxes on wheat, barley, vineyards, fruit trees, goats and beehives.[14] The Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi visited Sinjil about 1650. He described it as a village of 200 houses in the district of Jerusalem, populated by rebellious Muslims.[15]

During the early 19th century, Sinjil was a village of 206 taxable men, roughly 800 people. One-eighth of the population were conscripted into the Ottoman army, but were still taxed for 800 people.[16]

French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village in 1870, and described it as "quite crowded", with an estimated 1200 villagers. The village had two abundant springs, with a reservoir connected to the largest.[17] Guérin further noted, "On the summit of the hill are observed the foundations of two strongholds, built of great blocks, evidently ancient, one of which is called the Kasr ("Fort"), and the other the Keniseh ("Church"). The latter is [] built east and west, and may have been a church. On the lower flanks of the hill I found several ancient tombs cut in the rock. One of the largest, preceded by a vestibule, contains two loculi."[18] An Ottoman village list of about the same year, 1870, showed that "Sindschil" had 161 houses and a population of 513, though the population count included only men.[19]

In the 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Sinjil as being of moderate size, with several houses of two storeys, on a hill side with fine fig gardens below.[4]

The village mosque is laid out on the lines of the Frankish Crusader church.[9] Other historical sites in the town include a well for Joseph and a holy site for Jacob. The shrine of a holy man, Abu Ouf, is also there. Abu Ouf is from the time period of the Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab.[6]

British Mandate era[edit]

In a census conducted in 1922 by the British Mandate authorities, Sinjil (called: Senjel) had an entirely Muslim population of 934,[20] while in the 1931 census, the village had 266 occupied houses and a population of 1071, still all Muslims.[21]

In 1945 the population was 1,320 Muslims[22] while the total land area was 14,186 dunams, according to an official land and population survey.[23] Of this, 4,169 were allocated for plantations and irrigable land, 4,213 for cereals,[24] while 47 dunams were classified as built-up areas.[25]


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


After the Six-Day War in 1967, Sinjil has been under Israeli occupation.

On Wednesday 7 April 2015 a 32-year-old resident of Sinjil was shot dead after a knife attack at Shiloh junction which left two army paramedics injured, one seriously.[26]

Urban development[edit]

Since 2002, according to Amira Hass, Jewish settlers have hampered villagers' access to their traditional lands. In 2009, the Red Cross has helped the villagers to overcome the red-tape that blocks their return to their farms. An agreement was reached to allow them to access some of the land, some 100 hectrares, in July 2012. Given problems with the nearby settlers, the villagers had to coordinate with the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli forces to have an escort.[27] In January 2012, the United States Agency for International Development financed road work and renovations of the Abu Bakr as-Saddeeq boys' school in Sinjil.[28]


According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of approximately 5,236 in 2007. The gender makeup consisted of 2,668 males and 2,568 females. There were 1,029 housing units and the average household size was 5.4.[29]

Literary references[edit]

In 2007, Aziz Shihab whose family was from Sinjil, wrote a memoir of his journey to the village Does the Land Remember Me?(2007)[30][31]

Naomi Shihab Nye, whose paternal grandfather's family was from Sinjil, stayed there in 1966, aged 14, and recalls her sojourn as having a formative influence on her poetics.[32]


  1. ^ a b Palmer, 1881, p. 245
  2. ^ Finkelstein et al, 1997, pp. 633
  3. ^ Dever, William G (1975). "MB IIA Cemeteries At 'Ain es-Sâmiyeh and Sinjil". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (217): 23–36. 
  4. ^ a b Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 292
  5. ^ Conder, 1877, p. 88, quoting Fetellus, ca 1180 AD, p.35
  6. ^ a b The village of Sinjel This Week In Palestine
  7. ^ a b c d Levy-Rubin, Milka (2002). The Continuo of the Samaritan Chronicle of Abū L-Fatḥ Al-Sāmirī Al-Danafī. Princeton, NY: The Darwin Press. pp. 71–72. 
  8. ^ le Strange, 1890, p. 538
  9. ^ a b Ellenblum, 2003, pp. 106-107
  10. ^ Röhricht, 1893, RRH, p. 59, No. 234
  11. ^ a b c Pringle, 1998, pp. 329-332
  12. ^ de Roziére, 1849, pp. 257 -8, No. 141, cited in Röhricht, 1893, RRH, pp. 141 -142, Nos. 529, 530
  13. ^ Röhricht, 1893, RRH, p. 142, No. 531
  14. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 114
  15. ^ Stephan, 1939, p. 144
  16. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, pp. 82 -83
  17. ^ Guérin, 1875, pp. 34-35
  18. ^ Guérin, 1875, pp. 34-35, 166, as translated in Conder and Kitchener, 1882, p. 370
  19. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 161
  20. ^ Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-District of Ramallah, p. 17
  21. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 50.
  22. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 26
  23. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 65
  24. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 113
  25. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 163
  26. ^ [1] Ha'aretz 8/5/2015
  27. ^ 'Otherwise Occupied / Caught between Price Tag and red tape,' Haaretz, August 6, 2012
  28. ^ Remarks by the Consul-General Rubinstein
  29. ^ 2007 PCBS Census. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p. 112
  30. ^ Aziz Shihab, Does the Land Remember Me?: A Memoir of Palestine, Syracuse University Press, 2007 p.
  31. ^ Wail S. Hassan, Immigrant Narratives: Orientalism and Cultural Translation in Arab American and Arab British Literature, Oxford University Press, 2011 p.116.
  32. ^ Deborah Brown, Annie Finch, Maxine Kumin (eds.) Title Lofty dogmas: poets on poetics,University of Arkansas Press, p.393.


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