The West Bank is a territory under Israeli occupation with areas of Palestinian Autonomous Control pockmarked with Israeli military/civilian settlements in the Middle East between Israel and Jordan, to the north of the Dead Sea. It forms the larger portion of the semi-autonomous Palestinian Territories (the smaller being the Gaza Strip). Depending on where one travels the area is controlled by Palestinian authorities, Israel, or even both. It has been under Israeli administration since 1967 with its future status uncertain and still to be resolved, between Israel and the PA.
It is known as the West Bank because it lies on the western bank of the Jordan River. This part of the world is steeped in biblical history and contains many sites of religious and archaeological significance. About 2 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers reside in approximately 100 official and unofficial Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Jericho (/ˈdʒɛrɪkoʊ/; Arabic: أريحا ʾArīḥā [ʔaˈriːħaː] ( listen); Hebrew: יריחו Yeriẖo) is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank. It is the administrative seat of the Jericho Governorate. In 2007, it had a population of 18,346. The city was occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967, and has been held under Israeli occupation since 1967; administrative control was handed over to the Palestinian Authority in 1994. It is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.
Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BCE), almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth's history.
Jericho is described in the Hebrew Bible as the "City of Palm Trees". Copious springs in and around the city attracted human habitation for thousands of years.
The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias (Hebrew: יָם כִּנֶּרֶת, Judeo-Aramaic: יַמּא דטבריא, Arabic: بحيرة طبريا), is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately 53 km (33 mi) in circumference, about 21 km (13 mi) long, and 13 km (8.1 mi) wide. The lake has a total area of 166.7 km2 (64.4 sq mi) at its fullest, and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m (141 feet). At levels between 215 metres (705 ft) and 209 metres (686 ft) below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake overall (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake). The lake is fed partly by underground springs although its main source is the Jordan River which flows through it from north to south.
The Church of the Beatitudes (Hebrew: כנסיית הר האושר) is a Roman Catholic church located by the Sea of Galilee near Tabgha and Capernaum in Israel. Located on a small hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and built on the traditional site of Jesus delivery of the Sermon on the Mount, pilgrims are known to have commemorated this site since at least the 4th century.
Capernaum (/kəˈpɜrniəm/ kə-PUR-nee-əm; Hebrew: כְּפַר נַחוּם, Kfar Nahum, "Nahum's village") was a fishing village in the time of the Hasmoneans, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It had a population of about 1,500. Archaeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other. A church near Capernaum is said to be the home of Saint Peter.
Tabgha (Arabic: الطابغة, al-Tabigha; Hebrew: עין שבע, Ein Sheva which means "spring of seven") is an area situated on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It is traditionally accepted as the place of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30-46) and the fourth resurrection appearance of Jesus (John 21:1-24) after his Crucifixion. Until 1948, it was the site of a Palestinian Arab village.
The site's name is derived from the Greek name Heptapegon ("seven springs"). Its pronunciation gradually changed to "Tabego", and was eventually changed to "Tabha" by the Arabic speakers. St. Jerome referred to Heptapegon as "the solitude" (=eremos).
Mount Tabor (Hebrew: הַר תָּבוֹר, Modern Har Tavor, Tiberian Har Tāḇôr, Arabic: جبل الطور, Jabal aṭ-Ṭūr) is located in Lower Galilee, Israel, at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, 11 miles (18 km) west of the Sea of Galilee. It was the site of the Mount Tabor battle between Barak under the leadership of the Israelite judge Deborah, and the army of Jabin commanded by Sisera, in the mid 12th century BC. It is believed by many Christians to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. It is also known as Har Tavor, Itabyrium, Jebel et-Tur, and the Mount of Transfiguration.
Nazareth (/ˈnæzərəθ/; Hebrew: נָצְרַת, Naṣrat; Aramaic: ܢܨܪܬ, Naṣrath; Arabic: النَّاصِرَة, an-Nāṣira) is the capital and the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Nazareth is known as "the Arab capital of Israel". The population is made up predominantly of Arab citizens of Israel, almost all of whom are either Muslim (69%) or Christian (30.9%).
In the New Testament, the city is described as the childhood home of Jesus, and as such is a center of Christian pilgrimage, with many shrines commemorating biblical events.
Sepphoris (Ancient Greek: Σέπφωρις), also known as Tzipori (Hebrew: צִפּוֹרִי), Diocaesaraea (Ancient Greek: Διοκαισάρεια), Saffuriya (Arabic: صفورية, also transliterated Safurriya and Suffurriye), and in Crusader times as La Sephorie, is a village and an archeological site located in the central Galilee region of Israel, 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) north-northwest of Nazareth. It lies 286 m above sea level and overlooks the Beit Netofa Valley. The site holds a rich and diverse historical and architectural legacy that includes Hellenistic, Jewish, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Crusader, Arabic and Ottoman influences. In late Christian tradition it was believed to be the birthplace of Mary, mother of Jesus, and the village where Saints Anna and Joachim are often said to have resided.
Caesarea (Hebrew: קֵיסָרְיָה, Kesariya; Arabic: قيسارية, Qaysaria; Greek: Καισάρεια) is a town in Israel located mid-way between Tel Aviv and Haifa (45 km), on the Israeli coastal plain near the city of Hadera. The town was built by Herod the Great about 25–13 BCE as the port city Caesarea Maritima. It served as an administrative center of Judaea Province of the Roman Empire, and later the capital of the Byzantine Palaestina Prima province during the classic period. Following the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, in which it was the last city to fall to the Arabs
Bethlehem (Arabic: بيت لحم About this sound Bayt Laḥm (help·info) "House of Meat", Bēt Laḥm; Hebrew: בֵּית לֶחֶם Bēṯ Leḥem, Modern: Bet Leḥem [bet ˈleχem], lit. "House of Bread"; Ancient Greek: Βηθλεέμ [bɛːtʰle.ém]) is a Palestinian city located in the central West Bank, about 10 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Its population is approximately 25,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate. The economy is primarily tourist-driven.
The earliest mention of the city was in the Amarna correspondence of 1350-1330 BCE during its habitation by the Canaanites. The Hebrew Bible identifies it as the city David was from and where he was crowned as the king of Israel. The New Testament identifies Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus. Bethlehem was destroyed by the Emperor Hadrian during the second-century Bar Kokhba revolt; its rebuilding was promoted by Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, who commissioned the building of its great Church of the Nativity in 327 CE. The church was badly damaged by the Samaritans, who sacked it during a revolt in 529, but was rebuilt a century later by Emperor Justinian I.
Qumran (Hebrew: קומראן; Arabic: خربة قمران Khirbet Qumran) is an archaeological site in the West Bank managed by Israel's Qumran National Park. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalya. The Hellenistic period settlement was constructed during the reign of John Hyrcanus, 134-104 BCE or somewhat later, and was occupied most of the time until it was destroyed by the Romans in 68 CE or shortly after. It is best known as the settlement nearest to the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden, caves in the sheer desert cliffs and beneath
Masada (Modern Hebrew מצדה metzadá "fortress") is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau, akin to a mesa, on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Arad.
Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, the Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire towards the end of the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of 960 people – the Sicarii rebels and their families hiding there.
The Dead Sea (Hebrew: יָם הַמֶּלַח, Yām HaMélaḥ, "Sea of Salt", also Hebrew: יָם הַמָּוֶת, Yām HaMā́weṯ, "The Sea of Death", and Arabic: البحر الميت About this sound al-Baḥr al-Mayyit (help·info),), also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are 429 metres (1,407 ft) below sea level, Earth's lowest elevation on land. The Dead Sea is 304 m (997 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With 34.2% salinity (in 2011), it is also one of the world's saltiest bodies of water, though Lake Vanda in Antarctica (35%), Lake Assal in Djibouti (34.8%), Lagoon Garabogazköl in the Caspian Sea (up to 35%) and some hypersaline ponds and lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica (such as Don Juan Pond (44%)) have reported higher salinities. It is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean.