West Bank City.
Qalqiliya, whose origins extend back to Canaanite times, is situated in the northwest corner of the West Bank, close to the Green Line the (boundary with Israel) and 14 miles (23 km) from the Mediterranean Sea. The city's strategic position on the border between Palestine's coastal plain and the mountains made it an important locale in the eyes of caravan merchants and invading armies. By modern times, Qalqiliya was noted for its abundant agricultural produce. Its fertile land produced citrus fruits, vegetables, other fruits, and grain.
The town's history was affected dramatically by the Arab–Israeli conflict. As a result of the Arab–Israel War of 1948 and the subsequent 1949 Rhodes armistice between Jordan and Israel, Qalqiliya ended up as part of the Jordanian-controlled West Bank, although most of its agricultural land came to lie on the Israeli side of the cease-fire line. In October 1956, two weeks before the Arab–Israel War of 1956, the town was the scene of a bloody Israeli retaliatory raid that prompted Jordan's King Hussein ibn Talal to request assistance from the United Kingdom under the terms of his country's defense pact with the British. During the Arab–Israel War of 1967, Israeli forces occupied Qalqiliya, holding the town until they handed it over to the Palestinian Authority in December 1995. The city had a population of 31,753 in of 1997, the year of the last census.
As a result of Palestinian suicide bombings during the al-Aqsa Intifada, which began in September 2000, Israel reoccupied Qalqiliya for a time. It also began constructing a barrier between Jewish population centers and Palestinian territory in the West Bank. The wall had a particularly devastating impact on Qalqiliya, which was not only cut off from much of its remaining agricultural land but also surrounded on three sides by the wall.
see also aqsa intifada, al-; arab–israel war (1948); arab–israel war (1956); arab–israel war (1967); hussein ibn talal; palestinian authority; west bank.
michael r. fischbach