Beit Hanoun - Gaza
Beit Hanoun, which gained wide media coverage lately following the Israeli massacre there that caused the death of 19 Palestinians, is located at the northern tip of the Gaza Strip, past the notorious Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing. It is 8 km north of Gaza city and has a population of some 5,000 inhabitants. Beit Hanoun lands are cultivated with grape vines and fig, apple, orange and almond trees.
In 1239 a famous battle between Muslims and Crusaders was fought nearby on a hill known as Al-Nasr (the victory). The town’s one historic mosque, which dates back to the Ayyubites, commemorates this historic event. Unfortunately nothing is left of the original Al-Nasr Mosque, apart from the southern portico with its beautiful roof with fan vaults and a shallow dome in the centre. A tribute in Arabic script known as Naskhi, commemorating the battle, is engraved on a plate inside the mosque.
Beit Hanoun was also an important part of the postal route during the Mamluk era; its horsemen were known for riding to Jenin and Damascus. According to folklore, a number of Beit Hanoun families come from the Houran region of what is today southern Syria. Many of the families trace their family lineage to Kurdish dynasties in Egypt, and many have clan affiliations with Bedouins from the Wadi Mousa area and the tribes of Al-Howeitat and Al-Adwan in southern Jordan.
(From Palestine, A Guide by Mariam Shahin)