Khan Yunis (Arabic: خان يونس, also spelled Khan Younis or Khan Yunus; lit.'Caravansary [of] Jonah') is a city in the southern Gaza Strip; it is the capital of the Khan Yunis Governorate in the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Khan Yunis had a population of 205,125 in 2017.[1] Khan Yunis, which lies only four kilometres (2+12 miles) east of the Mediterranean Sea, has a semi-arid climate with temperature of 30 °C maximum in summer and 10 °C minimum in winter, with an annual rainfall of approximately 260 mm (10.2 in).

Khan Yunis
Arabic transcription(s)
 • Arabicخان يونس
Official logo of Khan Yunis
Khan Yunis is located in State of Palestine
Khan Yunis
Khan Yunis
Location of Khan Yunis within Palestine
Coordinates: 31°20′40″N 34°18′11″E / 31.34444°N 34.30306°E / 31.34444; 34.30306
Palestine grid83/83
State State of Palestine
GovernorateKhan Yunis
Founded1387
Government
 • TypeCity
 • Head of MunicipalityMuhammad Jawad Abd al-Khaliq al-Farra
Area
 • Total54,560 dunams (54.56 km2 or 21.07 sq mi)
Population
 (2017)[1]
 • Total205,125
 • Density3,800/km2 (9,700/sq mi)
Name meaning"Caravansary [of] Jonah"

The Constituency of Khan Yunis had five members on the Palestinian Legislative Council. Following the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, there were three Hamas members, including Yunis al-Astal, and two Fatah members, including Mohammed Dahlan. The city is now under the Hamas administration of Gaza.[citation needed]

History edit

 
The southern part of the historic khan at Khan Yunis, 1930s

Ancient period edit

Herodotus describes a city named Ienysos (Ancient Greek: Ιηνυσος) located between Lake Serbonis and Kadytis (modern Gaza city). He talks about how the Persian military marched through the location on its way to Egypt. He also describes how the coastal area between Kadytis and Ienysos was inhabited by local Arab tribes. Some sources, due to phonological resemblance of the names and due to the general matching of the geographic locations, associate this site with modern Khan Yunis.[2]

Other sources have suggested a further inland location of "Khirbet Ma'in Abu Sitta" (Palestinian village depopulated in 1949, near modern kibbutz of Nir Oz)[3] or the Egyptian town of Arish as possible locations of Ienysos, but there is no clear evidence to support this identification.[2][4]

Establishment by Mamluks edit

Before the 14th century, Khan Yunis was a village known as "Salqah".[5] To protect caravans, pilgrims and travellers a vast caravan serai was constructed there by emir Yūnus an-Nūrūzī in 1387–88, an official of the Mamluk Empire.[5] The growing town surrounding it was named "Khan Yunis" after him. In 1389 Yunus was killed in battle.[6] Yunus ibn Abdallah an-Nuruzi ad-Dawadar was the executive secretary (dawadar), one of the high-ranking officials of the Mamluk sultan Barquq. The town became an important center for trade and its weekly Thursday market drew traders from neighboring regions.[7]

The khan served as resting stop for couriers of the barid, the Mamluk postal network in Palestine and Syria.

Ottoman period edit

In late 1516 Khan Yunis was the site of a minor battle in which the Egypt-based Mamluks were defeated by Ottoman forces under the leadership of Sinan Pasha. The Ottoman sultan Selim I then arrived in the area where he led the Ottoman army across the Sinai Peninsula to conquer Egypt.[8] During the 17th and 18th centuries the Ottomans assigned an Asappes garrison associated with the Cairo Citadel to guard the fortress at Khan Yunis.[9]

Pierre Jacotin named the village Kan Jounes on his map from 1799,[10] while in 1838, Robinson noted Khan Yunas as a Muslim village located in the Gaza district.[11] In 1863 French explorer Victor Guérin visited Khan Yunis. He found it had about a thousand inhabitants, and that many fruit trees, especially apricots were planted in the vicinity.[12]

At the end of the 19th-century the Ottomans established a municipal council to administer the affairs of Khan Yunis, which had become the second largest town in the Gaza District after Gaza itself.[13]

British Mandate edit

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Khan Yunis had a population of 3890 inhabitants (3866 Muslims, 23 Christians, and one Jew),[14] decreasing in the 1931 census to 3811 (3767 Muslims, 41 Christians, and three Jews), in 717 houses in the urban area[15] and 3440 (3434 Muslims and 6 Christians) in 566 houses in the suburbs.[16]

 
Khan Yunis 1931 1:20,000

In the 1938 village statistics, the population is listed as 4,379 (including three Jews) with 3,953 in nearby suburbs.[17] In the 1945 statistics, Khan Yunis had a population of 11,220 (11,180 Muslims and 40 Christians),[18] with 2,302 (urban) and 53,820 (rural) dunams of land, according to an official land and population survey.[19] Of this, 4,172 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 23,656 used for cereals,[20] while 1,847 dunams were built-up land.[21]

 
Khan Yunis 1945 1:250,000

During the Nazi occupation of the Dodecanese, many Greeks from Dodecanese islands such as Kastelorizo sought refuge in the nearby Nuseirat Camp.

1948–1967 edit

During the night of 31 August 1955, three Israeli paratroop companies attacked the British-built Tegart fort in Khan Yunis from where attacks had been carried out against Israelis.[22] The police station, a petrol station and several buildings in the village of Abasan were destroyed, as well as railway tracks and telegraph poles. In heavy fighting, 72 Egyptian soldiers were killed. One Israeli soldier was killed and 17 were wounded. The operation led to a ceasefire on September 4, forcing President Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Egyptian government to halt Palestinian fedayeen operations against Israel.[23] One of the mechanized companies was commanded by Rafael Eitan.[22][24]

Before the Suez War, Khan Yunis was officially administered by the All-Palestine Government, seated in Gaza and later in Cairo. After a fierce firefight, the Sherman tanks of the IDF 37th Armored Brigade broke through the heavily fortified lines outside of Khan Yunis held by the 86th Palestinian Brigade.[25] It was the only site in the Gaza strip where the Egyptian army put up any resistance to the Israeli invasion of Gaza, but it surrendered on 3 November 1956.

There are conflicting reports of what happened. Israel said that Palestinians were killed when Israeli forces were still facing armed resistance, while the Palestinians said all resistance had ceased by then, and that many unarmed civilians were killed as the Israel troops went through the town and camp, seeking men in possession of arms.[26][27]

The killings, dubbed the Khan Yunis massacre, were reported to the UN General Assembly on 15 December 1956 by the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Henry Labouisse. According to the report, the exact number of dead and wounded is not known, but the director received lists of names of persons allegedly killed from a trustworthy source, including 275 people, of which 140 were refugees and 135 local residents.[27][28]

After 1959, the All-Palestine Government of Gaza Strip was abolished and the city was included in the United Arab Republic, which was shortly disestablished and the Gaza Strip came under the direct Egyptian military occupation rule.

1967 and aftermath edit

 
The Kaware house in after bombing in 2014, see Kaware family home

In 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israel occupied Khan Yunis again.

Khan Yunis was the site of Israeli helicopter attacks in August 2001 and October 2002 that left several civilians killed, hundreds wounded and civilian buildings within the vicinity destroyed. It is known as a stronghold of the Palestinian Hamas.[29]

It is currently an Area A territory in the state of Palestine.[citation needed]

2023-24 war edit

During the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, Israel bombed Khan Yunis along with other cities in the Gaza Strip as part of an offensive against Hamas. The Israeli Air Force extensively bombed much of the city, including the Hamad City apartment complex.[30][31][32] Local sources have reported numerous civilian casualties in Khan Yunis as a result of Israeli bombings,[33][34] which Palestinian news agency Wafa put at "at least 70" as of December 3.[35] The Al Qarara Cultural Museum was destroyed in an explosion as a result of an Israeli attack in October 2023, part of an offensive that reportedly targeted civilian homes and mosques in the vicinity.[36][37] Israeli armored units began entering the outskirts of the city in December 2023.

Economy edit

Khan Yunis is the second largest urban area in the Gaza Strip after Gaza City. It serves as the principal market center of the territory's southern half and hosts a weekly Bedouin souk ("open-air market") mostly involving local commodities.[38] As of 2012 Khan Yunis had the highest unemployment rate in the Palestinian territories.[39]

Education edit

  • University College of Science and Technology[40]
  • Al Quds open university

Notable people edit

International relations edit

 
Khan Yunis beach

Twin towns – sister cities edit

Khan Yunis is twinned with the following cities:

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Preliminary Results of the Population, Housing and Establishments Census, 2017 (PDF). Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) (Report). State of Palestine. February 2018. pp. 64–82. Retrieved 2023-10-24.
  2. ^ a b Retsö, J. (2014). The Arabs in antiquity: Their history from the Assyrians to the Umayyads - "Chapter 9: The Age of the Achaemenids - Herodotus of Halicarnassus". Routledge.
  3. ^ Abu-Sitta, S. H. (2017). Mapping my return: A Palestinian memoir. American University in Cairo Press.
  4. ^ Verreth, Herbert (2006). The northern Sinai from the 7th century BC till the 7th century AD. A guide to the sources. Vol. 1. Leuven. p. 263.
  5. ^ a b Sharon, 1999, p. 228
  6. ^ Sharon, 1999, p. 229
  7. ^ Abu-Khalaf, Marwan. Khan Younis City. El-Agha. July 2002.
  8. ^ Pitcher, p. 105.
  9. ^ Hathaway, 2002, p. 38
  10. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 173 Archived 2019-12-22 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Robinson and Smith, vol 3, 2nd appendix, p. 117
  12. ^ Guérin, 1869, p.226 ff, pp. 249-250, p. 251
  13. ^ Feldman, 2008, p. 21
  14. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Gaza, p. 8
  15. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 4
  16. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 5
  17. ^ Village Statistics (PDF). 1938. p. 64.
  18. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 31
  19. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 46
  20. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 87
  21. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 137
  22. ^ a b Katz, 1988, p. 10
  23. ^ Derori, 2005, p. 142
  24. ^ Morris, 1993, p. 350
  25. ^ Varble, 2003, p. 46
  26. ^ Reed Johnson (February 4, 2010). "Joe Sacco produces comics from the hot zones". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ a b UNRWA Report to the UN General Assembly November 1 – December 14, 1956 Archived June 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.: "The town of Khan Yunis and the Agency's camp adjacent thereto were occupied by Israel troops on the morning of 3 November. A large number of civilians were killed at that time, but there is some conflict in the accounts given as to the causes of the casualties. The Israel authorities state that there was resistance to their occupation and that the Palestinian refugees formed part of the resistance. On the other hand, the refugees state that all resistance had ceased at the time of the incident and that many unarmed civilians were killed as the Israel troops went through the town and camp, seeking men in possession of arms. The exact number of dead and wounded is not known, but the Director has received from sources he considers trustworthy lists of names of persons allegedly killed on 3 November, numbering 275 individuals, of whom 140 were refugees and 135 local residents of Khan Yunis."
  28. ^ "Graphic novel on IDF 'massacres' in Gaza set to hit bookstores". Haaretz. Dec 21, 2009.
  29. ^ McGreal, Chris (12 September 2005). "Hamas celebrates victory of the bomb as power of negotiation falters". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  30. ^ Bulos, Nabih (2023-12-04). "In Gaza, she sits by her belongings, waiting for her home to be bombed". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2023-12-05.
  31. ^ "Moment Israeli strikes hit residential complex in Gaza's Khan Yunis | AFP". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2023-12-04.
  32. ^ "Israeli strike destroys prestige Qatar-funded Gaza complex". France 24. 2023-12-02. Retrieved 2023-12-05.
  33. ^ "Israeli airstrikes in Nusseirat, Khan Yunis claim 15 innocent lives". Wafa. 2023-11-19. Retrieved 2023-12-04.
  34. ^ شهداء وجرحى في قصف على مدينتي غزة وخان يونس.. والاحتلال يقتل 3 عناصر من الدفاع المدني. arabicpost.net (in Arabic). 2023-12-04. Retrieved 2023-12-04.
  35. ^ "Israel expands ground invasion in Gaza's Khan Younis". Wafa. 2023-12-03. Retrieved 2023-12-04.
  36. ^ "خسائر كبيرة في قطاع الثقافة الفلسطينية جراء العدوان الإسرائيلي على غزة". 2023-10-18. Archived from the original on 2023-10-18. Retrieved 2023-11-05.
  37. ^ "استهداف البشر والحجر والكلمة.. قصص تدمير أشهر المؤسسات الثقافية في غزة - البوابة نيوز". 2023-10-18. Archived from the original on 2023-10-18. Retrieved 2023-11-05.
  38. ^ Thomas, p. 382.
  39. ^ Irving, p. 230.
  40. ^ University College of Science and Technology Archived 2014-02-02 at the Wayback Machine

Bibliography edit

External links edit