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This article is about the place in the Middle East. For other uses of the name, see Hebron (disambiguation).

Hebron (Arabic al-Ḫalīl; Hebrew , Standard Hebrew Ḥevron, Tiberian Hebrew Ḥeḇrôn: derived from the word "friend") is a town in the southern West Bank (in an area known in Israel as Judea) of around 100,000 Palestinians and 500 Israeli settlers. It lies 3,050 feet (930 m) above sea level.

Geographic coordinates : 31°32' N, 35°6' E

Hebron is located 30km south of Jerusalem. Its elevation from sea level is about 1000m. Hebron is famous for its grapes, limestones, pottery workshops and glassblowing factories. It is also home of the nationally famous Al-Juneidi factory for dairy products. The old city of Hebron is characterized by its narrow and winding streets, the flat-roofed stone houses, and the old bazaars. It is the home of Hebron University and Palestine Polytechnic University.



 The facade and minarets of the place that Jews refer to as the Cave of the Patriarchs and Muslims refer to as the Ibrahimi Mosque.
The facade and minarets of the place that Jews refer to as the Cave of the Patriarchs and Muslims refer to as the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Hebron is one of most ancient cities in the Middle East, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and was an ancient Canaanite royal city. According to archeological findings it was probably founded in the 35th century BC. 18th century BC. It is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. In particular, a cave near it, called the Cave of the Patriarchs ( Arabic:المسجد الإبراهيمي, Hebrew: me'arat ha-machpela), is the place Jews believe is the place where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah are buried. This cave is considered holy by both Jews and Muslims, and is the second holiest site in Judaism. Part of the structure is used by the Muslims as a mosque, as Muslims also revere the site as the burial place of Abraham. According to the Bible, after the settlement of the Israelites in the area, Hebron became one of the principle centers of the Tribe of Judah, and the Judahite David was anointed King of Israel in Hebron and reigned in the city until the capture of Jerusalem, when the capital was moved to that city. It was also one of the six Biblical Cities of Refuge. Herod the Great built the current structure over the Cave of the Patriarchs and Byzantine emperor Justinian I had turned it into a church in the sixth century CE which was later destroyed by the Sassanids.

The Islamic rule of Hebron started in 638. It lasted until the Crusaders occupied Hebron in 1099. They called the city Abraham. Then the name changed back to Hebron after their defeat by Saladin in 1187. Mamluks took control of Hebron until 1516, when it fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. In 1831, Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt took over Hebron until 1840.

In December 1917 and during World War I, the British occupied Hebron. The city suffered the worst effects of the riots that shook Palestine in 1929, with some 67 Jews massacred and many others wounded by their Muslim neighbors. It remained as a part of the British mandate until 1948. In 1949, Jordan took over the control of Hebron and the rest of the West Bank; after the Six Day War, in June 1967, Hebron and the rest of the West Bank fell under Israeli control (See Israeli-occupied territories). Since early 1997 the city has been divided into two sectors: H1 and H2. H1 part of the town has been controlled by the Palestinian Authority, in accordance with Hebron Protocol [1]. After the massacre of Muslims at prayer by Baruch Goldstein in 1994, an international unarmed observer force - the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was established in order to maintain a buffer between the Palestinian Arab population and Jews residing in the ancient Jewish quarter.

Population at different times

Year Muslims Christians Jews Total Source
1538* 749 h 7 h 20 h 776 h Cohen & Lewis
1837 423 Montefiore census
1866 497 Montefiore census
1922 16,074 73 430 16,577 Census
1931 17,275 112 135 17,522 Census
1944 24,400 150 0 24,550 Estimate
1967 38,203 106 0 38,309 Census
Jewish Virtual Library

(*1538 statistics: h=households)

Jewish settlement after 1967

Following the Six-Day War of 1967, a group of Jews disguised as tourists, led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, took over the main hotel in Hebron and refused to leave. They later moved to a nearby abandoned army camp and established the settlement of Kiryat Arba. In 1979, Levinger's wife led 30 Jewish women to take over the Daboya Hospital (Beit Hadassah) in central Hebron. Before long this received Israeli government approval and further Jewish enclaves in the city were established with army assistance. This process of expansion of the Jewish presence is continuing and there are now more than 20 Jewish settlements in and around the city. Jews living in these areas and their supporters claim that they are resettling areas where Jews have lived since time immemorial, but the presence of Israeli settlers in these areas is condemned by local Palestinians as well as foreign governments and the United Nations as a violation of international law.

In 1997, an association comprised of descendants of some pre-1929 Jewish residents of Hebron published a statement dissociating themselves from the present settlers in Hebron, calling them dishonest and an obstacle to peace. [2].

Cultural, historical and sporting landmarks

Adjacent to the municipality building, Hebron archeological museum has a collection of artifacts from the Cannanite to the Islamic periods. The Oak Of Abraham (Ibrahim), also called Oak of Mambre is an ancient oak tree which marks the place where according to tradition Abraham pitched his tent. It is estimated that this oak is approximately 5000 years old. The Russian Orthodox Church owns the site and the nearby monastery.

Sport clubs

Nongovernmental organizations

See also

External links


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