Nablus, formerly called Shechem by the Canaanites, is the largest Moslem Arab city within Israel. It is claimed by Palestine under the British Mandate of 1923 and 1948 and is now one of the towns under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority albeit surrounded by Israeli cities and security forces. A tour of Nablus is usually coordinated by Palestinian travel agencies whose tour guides inevitably add anti-Israeli sentiments in most of their delivered information. Tours are arranged in such a way that a visit to the Balata refugee camp and martyr’s cemetery is always mixed in with the historical sites to invoke sympathy.
Nevertheless, a visit of the city’s famous loud and colorful Palestinian market is not an experience to be missed. Despite their expressed difficulties in their present condition, the city of Nablus is still a charming place alive with numerous shops selling all sorts of trinkets and clothes. One of the popular Nablus treat is the Kunafa, a local delicacy made of rich pastry and goat’s milk. No visit to this city is complete without the taste of Kunafa, baklava and/ or wallaby. Another highly recommended product here is olive oil, but visitors are advised to bring their own bottles because it could be difficult to find small containers in the city due to the siege-like security done by the Israeli army.
Famous historical sites in Nablus are: Jacob’s Well – where a Samaritan offered Jesus a drink of water; a Greek Orthodox Church located near the well (tourists are advised not to stray too far because of the nearby “rough neighborhood”); Joseph’s Tomb – where one of the Bible’s popular characters is said to be buried and one of the last Samaritan village temples atop Mt. Grasim.
Although anti-Israeli sentiment is very high here, tourists are advised to keep a clear head and to remember that there are always two sides to the coin.