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 • Arabic يانون
 • Also spelled Yanoun (official)
The golden fields of Yanoun in May
The golden fields of Yanoun in May
Yanun is located in the Palestinian territories
Location of Yanun within Palestine
Coordinates: 32°08′43.57″N 35°21′20.46″E / 32.1454361°N 35.3556833°E / 32.1454361; 35.3556833Coordinates: 32°08′43.57″N 35°21′20.46″E / 32.1454361°N 35.3556833°E / 32.1454361; 35.3556833
Palestine grid 183/172
Governorate Nablus
 • Type Village council
 • Head of Municipality Abd al-Latif Bani Jaber
 • Jurisdiction 16,000 dunams (16.0 km2 or 6.2 sq mi)
Population (2007[1])
 • Jurisdiction 102

Yanun (Arabic: يانون, transliterated: Yânûn‎) is a Palestinian village in the Nablus Governorate in northern West Bank, located 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) southeast of Nablus, and 3 miles north of Aqraba. It lies within Area C, under total Israeli control, of the West Bank. It is divided into two sites, upper and lower Yanun. Upper or northern Yanin is considered illegal by the Israeli authorities, and development is prohibited there.[2] According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the village had a population of 102 in 2007.[1] This was a decrease from 2004 when the PCBS recorded that Yanun had 145 inhabitants.[3] The residents of the village have to travel to Beit Furik for primary health care.[4]


Yanun the village is distinct from Khirbet Yanun, nearby ruins to the north-east of the village. Yanun corresponds to the Janon of Eusebius and Jerome, a village in Acrabatene east of Neapolis, which, according to Edward Robinson, these two Church fathers confused with the ancient town of Janohah of Naphtali, which belonged to the Tribe of Ephraim.[5][6] Several caves dot the area, which the local school headmaster claims were dwelt in by the Canaanites.[7]

There is a shrine, formerly used by villagers as a mosque, believed to be of the prophet Nun on a hillock called Nabinun three hundred metres east of Lower Yanun.[2][7][8]

Byzantine pottery and other signs of ancient habitation including tombs carved into rock have been found at the village site.[9] There are ruins of a Frankish church.[10] In 1596, Yanun appeared in Ottoman tax registers as a village in the Nahiya of Jabal Qubal in the Liwa of Nablus. It had a population of 18 Muslim households and paid taxes on wheat, barley, summercrops, olives, goats or beehives, and a press for olives or grapes.[11] Edward Robinson visited Yanun in 1852. He wrote that the village was mostly in ruins and only a few houses were inhabited.[5] In the 19th century, Yanun was settled by some 50 Bushnaks (Bosniaks), Muslims from Bosnia, after their country was ceded to the Austro-Hungarian Empire by the Congress of Berlin. The sultan Abdul Hamid gave the immigrants a significant part of the village.[7] According to Haaretz, these were soldiers sent to reinforce Ottoman rule in Palestine. Adopting a common surname, Bushnak, they later moved to nearby Nablus and leased their farmlands to villagers from Aqraba who gradually left their village to settle in Yanun themselves. The villagers are their partners and descendents.[12] In the 1870s, the Survey of Western Palestine described it as "A small village on the edge of a deep valley, with a sacred place to the east (Neby Nun), and a small spring about 1 mile to the north".[13]

At the time of the 1931 census, Yanun had 22 occupied houses and a population of 120 Muslims.[14] According to a land and population survey by the Mandatory government in 1945, Yanun had a population of 50 Arabs living in a built-up area of 34 dunams.[15] Today, the village is still leased by the residents of Aqraba and payment for leasing the land could be made in the form of wheat, olive oil or cash. About three-quarters of Yanun's 16,000 dunams of land is still leased.[12]

Recent history[edit]

According to Vikram Sura, Itamar settlers used to trade with local farmers and visit Yanun to enjoy refreshments like cardamom-spiced coffee and mint tea there. In the mid-late 1990s, Itamar began 'annexing' hills stretching out from the settlement towards Yanun. trailer homes from Itamar began to be set up along the ridge overlooking the village. The last, "Givot Olam" (hills of the universe), looking down over the village of Yanun, was created by Avri Ran, who obtained the land by trespassing on Yanun-owned areas and on Israeli state land, and assaulting any Palestinians who approached his settlement.[16][17] Though they felt surrounded, the Yanun villagers did not feel vulnerable. Relations changed with the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in October 2000, when 13 Israeli Arabs were shot dead during the suppression of a riot protesting the visit of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount. Yanun lies far from the main areas where Palestinian militants and the IDF subsequently clashed, and till then grievances between the two communities were less than the norm. Over the next three years, Palestinian militants killed roughly 11 Itamar settlers. A Californian who made aliyah to Itamar later accused Yanun of having aided these terrorists. No member of the village has been linked to any attack on settlers.[18] The youths on Avri Ran's hilltop outpost argue that they have a prerogative to respond with violence when they feel their Palestinian neighbours are preventing them from realizing their right, as legal heirs of God's bequest, to work the land.[19]

Armed settlers, according to local reports began to hinder Yanun farmers from harvesting their olive crops, intimidating the villagers and damaging the village’s electrical generator.[20] According to a survey reported and compiled by Yanun councilor Abdelatif Sobih, Yanun villagers have since been subjected to repeated assaults on their homes and farms; beatings; shootings, some resulting in death; poisoning and shootings of their flocks; the use of fierce dogs to impede farmer access to their lands; blocking of their access roads; pollution of their water resource; destruction of their electric generator, constructed with a donation from the Economic Development Group; the ploughing of fields sown with crops, or the burning of crops at harvest time; theft of olive trees; shooting at relatives' cars travelling to visit Yanun; and interrogation of teachers at the Yanun elementary school.[21][22]

2002 temporary exodus[edit]

Assaults and shootings by settlers at Palestinian farmers and foreign volunteers at olive harvest time took place in 2002.[23] A Council spokesman for the Israeli settlement of Itamar, in response to queries about the incidents, replied that he was unaware of claims of harassment and that settlers were trying to keep Palestinian villagers away from themselves.Another Itamar spokesman told The Guardian at the time “If anyone is being terrorized it is us. Arabs have to learn that if they continue to be violent they can’t live here. There is all this talk of Arab olives, what about Jewish blood?”[7]

The village was temporarily abandoned on October 19, 2002,[24] the first exodus in recent times of a Palestinian community abandoning a village in the wake of attacks by settlers. The last of 25 families relocated to nearby Aqraba after a reported worsening in their harassment by Itamar residents, including Avri Ran and his organization, the Hilltop Youth. Two aged people stayed behind, refusing to accept the village decision to go.[2][25] The village was re-occupied with the aid of peace activists from Ta'ayush and the International Solidarity Movement, who came and held a round-the-clock presence there for two weeks when the villagers started moving out in response to harassment.[26][27] The presence of foreign volunteers as witnesses has acted as a brake on settler assaults.[22][28] Ta'ayush activist David Nir was reportedly pushed by Avri Ran in Yanun.[25] Amiel Vardi, professor of classics at Hebrew University, was also shot there by a settler whom he subsequently identified and took to court. The case was dismissed.[29] Since 2003, EAPPI has maintained a round-the-clock protective presence in Yanoun, reporting on human rights violations.[30]

On October 30, 2002, together with David Shulman, a group that included the distinguished Israeli writers Amos Oz, Meir Shalev, A. B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, the daughter of Haim Gouri, with Rabbi Menachem Froman, co-founder of Gush Emunim and a settler in Tekoa, Ian Buruma and an assortment of Israeli television camera crews and journalists visited Yanun to assist the returned villagers with their harvest and ward off settlers.[31] According to Shulman, one of the settler rabbis had declared that Jews had the right to steal olives from the Palestinians, since the land belonged to the former. Rabbi Froman, armed with a heavy pile of books, including the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch, turned up to show that these texts actually forbid stealing olives from non-Jews.[32]


Early in 2012, the IDF began reviewing plans to revive a dormant firing range, 904A, in the area, and began forbidding Palestinians from using the area, though the ban does not apply to settlers of the Giva 777 outpost of Itamar, which is on private Palestinian land. Over the summer, Rahed Fahmi, the head of the Yanun council, together with Rabbis for Human Rights and an Israeli-Palestinian association Lohamin Leshalom (Fighting for Peace) have been involved in an intense campaign to convince Israeli authorities of the right of Yanun and Aqraba villagers to their lands. They succeeded in obtaining a right to visit their fields for one week, from July 3 to July 10, by which time the wheatcrop had mostly withered.[33] On Saturday July 7, two military jeeps accompanied the farmers to their fields. According to local farmers, sheep were being beaten by settlers. According to the EAPPI and Amira Hass, dozens of Jewish settlers attacked Yanun, one of 50 settler assaults in the West Bank in that month,[33] assailed villagers and killed three sheep, with four villagers, members of the Bani Jaber family, badly injured and requiring hospital treatment. In the assault one was beaten and later handcuffed by soldiers who intervened. A fifth, Jawdat Ibrahim, was reportedly beaten, wounded, bound and left in a field, where he was found the following day.[30] According to an IDF source, the Israeli army intervened in a stone-throwing fray between settlers and villagers, and used tear-gas to stop the clash.[34] According to an official of the Nablus Governorate, one of the victims, Jawdat Bani Jabir, was shot in the face and the foot by soldiers and subsequently stabbed by settlers. Five head of cattle were also slaughtered.[35] According to the EAPPI, "The attack began mid-afternoon, when three Palestinian farmers working in their fields were set upon by settlers armed with machine guns and knives. The settlers stabbed three of the farmers’ sheep to death. When EAs arrived at the scene at the request of the head of the village, there were also fires burning in two wheat fields and an olive grove. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at Palestinians who were trying to reach the area to put out the fires."[30] The day after another 10 sheep of the flock died. The entire area reserved for their agriculture is now denied them, but the fields are now tended by settlers permitted to live in the new firing range.[33]

EAPPI reported that Rashed Murrar, head of the village, fears that the intention of the attack was to cause the Palestinian villages to give up their wheat fields. The village, which is home to just 65 people, is surrounded by Israeli outposts, which are considered illegal both under international law and Israeli law.[30][35]

Critical judgements[edit]

The civilian population of Yanun, along with that of Bil'in, Jinba and several other places, in the judgement of scholar and Ta'ayush peace activist David Shulman, has been subject to practices that are 'singularly cruel'. Amira Hass, writing for Haaretz, argues that the systematic attacks on Palestinian villagers like those at Yanun, who are Semites, constitute a form of Antisemitism, with the difference that such assaults in the West Bank are rarely if ever reported.[36] The recent history of the village has been cited for the theory that after the Oslo Accords, Israel is applying a policy of slow transfer of Palestinians from villages near Israeli settlements on the West Bank.[37] The Spanish scholar, Ferran Izquierdo Brichs, cites what has happened there as an example of ethnic cleansing.[38]


Yanun has been described as an 'idyllic village', if one discards its recent troubles.[39] Driving in from Aqraba, fine views of hillocks full of olive groves meet the eye, while to the right the land falls steeply down into the Jordan Valley.[40] It is surrounded by lush valleys, adorned in spring with anemones and cyclamens, that boast of olive groves and sheep pastures, with a stunning view down the valley towards Aqraba. The village itself holds the ruins of fortified Ottoman houses and a dilapidated castle. The site known as Nabinun, on the hillock of that name, has been identified as a former synagogue-mosque and is associated with the biblical father of Joshua.[41]



  1. ^ a b 2007 PCBS Census. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.110.
  2. ^ a b c Settlers Force Desertion of Yanun Village,, Settlement Report | Vol. 12 No. 6 | November–December 2002, Foundation for Middle East Peace
  3. ^ Projected Mid -Year Population for Nablus Governorate by Locality 2004- 2006 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
  4. ^ West Bank Healthcare
  5. ^ a b Robinson, 1856 p. 297
  6. ^ Saunders, 1881, p.226.
  7. ^ a b c d Mandal, Thomas (May 2011). "Living With Settlers: Interviews with Yanun villagers" (PDF). World Council of Churches. p. 17. 
  8. ^ Tewfik Canaan (1927). Mohammedan Saints and Sanctuaries in Palestine. Jerusalem: Ariel Publishing House. p. 285. 
  9. ^ Dauphin, 1998, p. 849
  10. ^ Ellenblum, 2003, p. 224
  11. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 135
  12. ^ a b Hass, Amira (2002-10-25). "It's the pits". Original in Haaretz, reprinted by Ta'ayush. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  13. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 387
  14. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 66
  15. ^ Hadawi, 1970, p. 61
  16. ^ Aviv Lavie, Avri Ran has a farm and Jewish followers in the West Bank. But for his Arab neighbours, it's a rule by force,' at Haaretz, 9 April 2003.
  17. ^ Chaim Levinson, 'Israeli 'hilltop youth' accuse their former hero of stealing settlers' land,' at Haaretz, 31 January 2013.
  18. ^ Palestinians 'forced to abandon village,' BBC News, 21 October 2002.
  19. ^ Ami Pedahzur, Arie Perliger, Jewish Terrorism in Israel, Columbia University Press, 2011 p.115.
  20. ^ Vikram Sura, ‘No olive branch for Yanun?’, at The Hindu, October 12, 2003.
  21. ^ Settlers Force Desertion of Yanun Village, Settlement Report | Vol. 12 No. 6 | November–December 2002, Foundation for Middle East Peace
  22. ^ a b Ferran Izquierdo Brichs, "El cor de la neteja ètnica: Relat d'un viatge a Cisjordània i la Franja de Gaza" in Belén Vicéns (coord.), L'Orient Mitjà en el punt de mira, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 2005 p.132
  23. ^ Shulman, 2008 pp. 8, 107-108, 181-2.
  24. ^ Robert Blecher, 'Living on the Edge: The Threat of "Transfer" in Israel and Palestine,' in Joel Beinin, Rebecca L. Stein, (eds.)The Struggle for Sovereignty: Palestine And Israel, 1993-2005, Stanford University Press, 2006 p.191 dates the evacuation to the day before:'Piling their furniture and personal belongings into a truck, the last residents of Yanun abandoned their West Bank village on October 189, 2002. "Our life here is more bitter than hell," said one villager, lamenting years of attacks, recently intensified, from Israeli settlers living nearby. In the past months, rampaging bands had smashed windows, destroyed water tanks, burned the village's electric generator, stolen sheep, beaten villagers, and shot at workers in the fields.'
  25. ^ a b Lavie, Aviv. Avri Ran has a farm and Jewish followers in the West Bank. But for his Arab neighbours, it's a rule by force Ha'aretz. 2003-09-04.
  26. ^ Tanya Reinhart, The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003, Verso, 2006 p.176
  27. ^ S. Yizhar, Khirbet Khizeh, tr. Nicholas Robert, Michael De Lange, Yaacob Dweck. Ibis Editions, 2008, Afterword pp.127-128.
  28. ^ ’ On Friday, 18 October 2002, the last remaining residents (17 families) of Yanun village (10km south-east of Nablus) fled to the nearby village of Aqraba for fear of further settler violence. Originally home to 25 families, Yanun has, for the last four years, suffered from constant harassment and attacks from the settlers of Itamar settlement. The settlers had set up a series of "illegal outposts" surrounding the village. During October there was an increase in settler attacks due to the advent of the olive harvest. Villagers reported that the settlers have been attacking the village on a weekly basis, which has led to one death and several people injured. The settlers, they report, have been entering the village at night on horseback with their faces covered, have been firing at the village, smashing windows, breaking doors, and they have cut off the village's water and electricity supplies.Yanun's residents depend on agriculture and the olive harvest for their livelihood. They reported that settlers had issued a direct threat ordering them not to harvest their olives or they would be shot at whenever they attempted to enter their fields. Moreover, farms have been attacked, sheep poisoned, crops burned and shepherds prevented from reaching the pastures to tend to their flocks.Yanun is believed to be the first case in recent years in which the entire population of a village has fled to escape settler violence and intimidation. As a result, volunteers from the Israeli-Palestinian organization Ta'ayush, Israeli volunteers, and foreign volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement went to the area intending to stay a couple of weeks to give the villagers some "protection" and to encourage their return to Yanun. * Encouraged, some families did decide to return. However, the presence of volunteers did not deter some settlers. On Sunday 27 October, the olive pickers were again attacked by settlers and four Palestinians, including two children, and four volunteers were reported injured. *Information from a team of NGO and UN staff who visited Yanun on 22 October.’ OCHA, .’OCHA Humanitarian Update Occupied Palestinian Territories, 31 Oct 2002
  29. ^ Shulman, 2008, pp. 78, 107-108, 181-2.
  30. ^ a b c d 'Settler attack on Yanoun leaves 5 injured.', EAPPI 9.July, 2012.
  31. ^ Shulman, 2008, pp. 107-113.
  32. ^ Shulman, 2008, p. 109
  33. ^ a b c Amira Hass,'Lambs to the settlers' slaughter, screaming and unheard,' at [Haaretz], 5 August 2012.
  34. ^ The Associated Press 'Palestinians claim Jewish settlers attack villagers, killed livestock,' at Haaretz, July 8, 2012
  35. ^ a b Palestinian Jawdat Bani Jabir, 43 years old, stabbed and shot in settler attack near Nablus. Ma'an News Agency, 7 July 2012.
  36. ^ Amira Hass,'The anti-Semitism that goes unreported. Tens of thousands of people live in the shadow of terror,' at Haaretz, 18 July 2012.
  37. ^ Sean McMahon, The Discourse of Palestinian-Israeli Relations: Persistent Analytics and Practices, Routledge, 2010, pp.82-83.
  38. ^ Ferran Izquierdo Brichs, "El cor de la neteja ètnica: Relat d'un viatge a Cisjordània i la Franja de Gaza" in Belén Vicéns (coord.), L'Orient Mitjà en el punt de mira, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 2005 p.132: 'El poble de Yanun s'ha convertit en l'exemple més visible de la política de desestructuració econòmica i d'assetjament com a mecanismes de neteja ètnica.'
  39. ^ Sarah Irving, Palestine, Bradt Travel Guides, 2012 p.229: 'If it weren't for the threats posed to it by Itamar, Yanoun would seem an idyllic village.'
  40. ^ Anna Baltzer, 'Outposts, Settler Violence, & the Village of Yanoun,' in her Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories, Paradigm Publishers, 2007 pp. 41ff., p. 43.
  41. ^ Sarah Irving, Palestine, p.229


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