JERICHO, Palestinian Territories — The Palestinians on Sunday marked the 10,000th anniversary of the founding of Jericho, an oasis town in the West Bank that may be the world’s oldest city.
The festivities included a special cabinet meeting chaired by prime minister Salam Fayyad that was to be followed by a 4.5 kilometer (2.8 mile) foot race, a military band and fireworks.
“This occasion is not only a celebration, but is part of a national project to complete the building and preparation of the Palestinian state,” Fayyad said at the opening of the ceremony.
Residents had complained ahead of the fete that the low-key celebrations would not do justice to the occasion, which has been planned since 2007.
And local officials said many important infrastructure projects that were supposed to have been completed by the anniversary were stalled by Israeli restrictions and lack of international funding.
The date chosen for the anniversary — 10/10/2010 — was mostly symbolic.
The oasis town near the Dead Sea is one of the oldest cities in the world, with evidence of settlement dating back to 9000 BC and urban fortifications dating back to 7000 BC, predating Egypt’s pyramids by 4,000 years.
Jericho is the second most popular Palestinian tourist destination after Bethlehem and has seen a surge of visitors in recent years as security in the West Bank has improved following the devastating 2000 Palestinian uprising.