Palestine is a city in Anderson County, Texas, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 17,598. It is the county seat of Anderson County and is situated in East Texas. Palestine was named for Palestine, Illinois, the home of an early settler. The largest employer is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which employs more than 3,900. Another 1,600 work at two Wal-Mart distribution centers. Other significant employers include a thriving medical and healthcare sector that tends to the large population of retirees. Finally a distinguishing mark of Palestine is that it is home to the NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, which has flown 1700 high-altitude balloons for universities and research agencies. Palestine entered the news in February 2003, as one of the East Texas towns that received much of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster debris. Palestine is also the hometown of former Oklahoma Sooner and now Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.