Located in the south-western corner of Masafer Yatta, Jinba was first settled by families from Yatta in the early decades of the 1800s. In time, they secured Ottoman titles to land eventually stretching southward to present day Arad across the Green Line, and eastward to the Dead Sea. As an important trade town, and a stop along travellers’ journeys between East and West, by the 1870s Jinba and several other local communities appeared on maps drawn by the Palestine Exploration Fund; half a century later, Jinba was large enough to warrant a mention on regular British Mandate maps. The community had about 30 to 40 houses (many built out of natural caves), three shops, a mosque, a pottery factory and fruit groves; Aerial photography from 1945 shows extensive orchards surrounding the community.
Since 1948 much of the village has been destroyed, first in the 1948-49 war which saw many Palestinian villages demolished and their residents evicted in what is now on the Israeli side of the Green Line, later in 1967, and periodically since that time even as villagers continued to rebuild or repurpose rubble for different structures. Since the 1980s the Israeli authorities have demolished over 30 caves and 11 houses, as well as the mosque, which had been destroyed once before, and many of the village’s trees. By the mid 1980s, the area had been designated a military firing zone. Live-fire exercises still take place in the area. The people of Jinba have continued to live in the area despite an Israeli prohibition against rebuilding structures or improving infrastructure, modern facilities and amenities. The community lacks basic infrastructure for piped water and electricity.
(Based on: ‘A Community On the Brink – A Study of the Palestinian Cave-Dwellers in South Hebron’, published by the World Bank and OCHA)