Twenty five kilometers south of Gaza is the city of Khan Yunis, the second largest city in the Gaza Strip. Khan Yunis, and its neighboring camp to the west, have a total population of more than 124,000 inhabitants. The center of the city is about 4km from the sea shore. The town functions as a market place for the surrounding villages that bring in their agricultural produce to se1l. The most interesting historical site in the city is the Cara vansary (Khan) of the Emir Yunis, in the center of the town. The Khan is locally called al-Qal ' a because during the Ottoman period 1517 -1917, the building was used as a rni1itary base contro11ing the highway along the Mediterranean coast. Emir Yunis Ibn Abd Allah al-Nawruzi erected the Khan in 1387, offering a safe place to caravans, pilgrims and travelers on the irnportant Via Maris road. Emir Yunis was the executive secretary of the Circassian Marnluk Sultanal-Thaher Barquq, who resided in Cairo. The Marnluks (1250-1517), bui1t many Khans along the main route between Cairo and Damascus, which was extensively used for trade, military activity and postal services.
The Khan was built of imported limestone and local sand- stone. Some marble slabs can still be seen in the building, they were imported into the area. Large parts of the Khan have been demolished, but the southern part of the facade is still standing 60rn in length, and 10rn high. The minaret of the mosque still marks the center of the city of Khan Yunis today. The city, in fact, developed around the Khan. The site of the Khan was chosen not only because of its excellent geo-strategic location, but also because of the area's fertile soil and of its many sweet springs. Further- more, large quarries existed to the east of it.