Jenin & Sebastia Tour

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This tour includes archaeological, cultural and political aspects of the West Bank and covers a wide swath of territory.

Jerusalem departures include travelling on route 443, an 'Israeli Only' road that passes several settlements on the way to Tel Aviv. You'll see Palestinian villages to the west of the road that are isolated from the rest of the West Bank and are restricted to traveling on special 'Arab only' roads which can be seen en-route.  We enter Israel at the city Modi'in/Modi'in-Illit (pop. 110,000) which straddles the Green line.

After the Tel Aviv pickup the tour enters the West Bank on Route 55, passing the prison-city of Kalkiliya and on to the village of Jit where we pick up our Palestinian guide.

Then we travel north to Sebastia to see the village and Roman ruins, and to have lunch. The next stop is the ancient church at Burqin, then to Jenin where there will be an opportunity to speak with people at the Refugee Camp and the Freedom Theatre.

Sebastia
Sebastia is 15 kilometers NE of Nablus and home to a number of important archaeological sites. Back in the 1999s the tour buses clogged the parking lot of Sebastia in the Northern West Bank. Not any more. This ancient Roman city, and the adjacent modern Palestinian village are victims of Isreal's encapsulation of Palestinian areas though hundreds of checkpoints, barriers, and restricted roads.

The magnificent ruins are a legacy from the time of Herod when the city was a Roman metropolis, full of temples, a large hippodrome, theatre and stadium. The remains of these can still be seen in remarkably preserved condition. There is also a small Byzantine church where the head of John the Baptist is supposed to be interred. The church of St. John and an adjacent mosque is located in the nearby modern village of Sebastia, home to about 3,000 Palestinians.

The ancient site of Samaria-Sebaste is located just above the built up area of the modern day village on the eastern slope of the hill. The ruins dominate the hillside and comprise remains from six successive cultures dating back 10,000 years: Canaanite, Israelite, Hellenistic, Herodian, Roman and Byzantine.

Burqin
The Fifth holiest Christian place and the third oldest church in the world Located in the village of Burqin, 3 kms west of Jenin lies the Burqin church also known as st. George's church. It is considered the fifth oldest sacred Christian place in the world, and the third oldest church. According to Christian tradition, Jesus Christ passed through Burqin on his way to Jerusalem from Nazareth in the early days of Christianity. As he was passing by the village he heard the cries for help from 10 lepers who were imprisoned as a way of quarantine. He went to them and passed his hand on their faces and they were immediately cured. Since this miracle, the church became a station for many Christian pilgrims.

Excavations show that the church passed through 4 different historical periods. The first church was built over the cave where the miracle is said to have taken place, and which looks like a Roman cistern. The cave has an opening on top and it contains an altar and a stone wall at the entrance. A second construction was added to the church dating to a period between the 5th - 9th century. During the twelfth century, the church was rebuilt after a long period of abandonment whose reasons remain a mystery. After the 13th century the church was rebuilt and used as a school.

Jenin
Jenin was known in ancient times as the Canaanite village of Ein-Ganeem or Tel Jenin.The city of Ein-Ganeem is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the city of the Levites of the Tribe of Issachar. After some years, the city's name was changed to Ginat. In book of Yehudit the settlement is mentioned as Gini. The Jewish historian Josephus also mentioned Ganim as a city in northern Samaria. The modern Arabic name Jenin ultimately derives from this ancient name. The origin of the place as Ein-Ganeem was recognised by Ishtori Haparchi. In the 20th century C.E., the State of Israel built a nearby Israeli settlement, Ganim, also named after the ancient village. This settlement was evacuated in August 2005 as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan. Another Israeli community was also given the name of Ein Ganim, today part of Petah Tikva.

Modern Jenin was occupied by Jordanians between 1948 and 1967, then by Israel. Due to evacuations of a few small settlements, the city and surrounding area, south to Nablus, is now under the nominal control of the Palestinian Authority.

Freedom Theatre
Using the arts as a model for social change, The Freedom Theatre is developing the only professional venue for theatre and arts in the north of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The aim of this project is to empower and give voice to the children of Jenin Refugee Camp through a unique programme of workshops and activities in theatre, supporting arts and multi-media, ranging in their emphasis from the largely therapeutic and healing, to the presentation of high-quality artistic products.


Refugee Camp
The people of the Jenin Refugee Camp originated in 1947 and 1948 from the territory that became the state of Israel. Most came from villages in the North-Central and Galilee area of Israel and either fled the 1948 or were expelled by the Jewish militias. Israel has since refused their right to return.

The 1997 national census recorded a population of 9,104 in Jenin refugee camp, living in 1,614 households. UNRWA reports a larger population of registered refugees at 13,055, suggesting that some households live outside formal camp boundaries, which are quite restricted. Jenin camp lies within the municipal boundaries of Jenin, and was established in 1953 on 373 dunums of land, roughly a square kilometer. The dense population of the camp and the crowding of houses and facilities contributes to the dangers to innocent civilians, mostly women and children and older people, as those constitute roughly 67% of the population living there -- particularly when Israeli airpower (F-16s and Apache helicopter gunships) and tank fire were used against the camp.

Although designated as being under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, the Israel Defense Force invaded Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and has conducted regular incursions into the city since.

  • Nablus Day Tour
    Visit the Samaritans and their holy temple on Mount Grizim. Hold a discussion with the Director of a youth organization in Balata Refugee camp. Explore the sights and sounds of the Old City of Nablus
  • Masada, Dead Sea & Southern West Bank
    An overview of the southern West Bank, the ancient Roman complex at Masada, a drive along the entire length of the Dead Sea, and an opportunity to dip in the healing sea waters.
  • Taybeh Village
    Come and explore Christian Palestine through the beautiful village of Taybeh located between Jerusalem, Ramallah and Jericho.
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