Old City of Hebron

The Old City of Hebron (Arabic: البلدة القديمة الخليل Hebrew: עיר העתיקה של חברון) is the historic city centre of Hebron in the West Bank, Palestine. The Hebron of antiquity is thought by archaeologists to have originally started elsewhere, at Tel Rumeida, which is approximately 200 meters (660 ft) west of today's Old City, and thought to have originally been a Canaanite city. Today's Old City was settled in Greek or Roman times (circa 3rd to 1st centuries BCE). It became the center of the overall Hebron site during the Abbasid Caliphate (which began circa 750 CE).

It was recognized as the third World Heritage Site in the State of Palestine in 2017.

The Old City is built around the Cave of the Patriarchs, the traditional burial site of the biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and venerated by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The Old City is a sensitive location in the Israeli–Palestinian...Read more

The Old City of Hebron (Arabic: البلدة القديمة الخليل Hebrew: עיר העתיקה של חברון) is the historic city centre of Hebron in the West Bank, Palestine. The Hebron of antiquity is thought by archaeologists to have originally started elsewhere, at Tel Rumeida, which is approximately 200 meters (660 ft) west of today's Old City, and thought to have originally been a Canaanite city. Today's Old City was settled in Greek or Roman times (circa 3rd to 1st centuries BCE). It became the center of the overall Hebron site during the Abbasid Caliphate (which began circa 750 CE).

It was recognized as the third World Heritage Site in the State of Palestine in 2017.

The Old City is built around the Cave of the Patriarchs, the traditional burial site of the biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and venerated by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The Old City is a sensitive location in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in Hebron.

 1940s Survey of Palestine map of the city

The present Old City was first settled in either the Greek or at the latest by Roman times.[1][2] It was settled in the valley downhill from Tel Rumeida, considered to be the center of biblical Hebron.[3] It was not until the start of the Abbasid Caliphate that the current city became the center of Hebron, building up around the focal point of the Cave of the Patriarchs.[4]

The urban structure of the Old City of Hebron dates to the Mamluk period, and has remained mostly unchanged.[5] A majority of the buildings are Ottoman-era from the eighteenth century along with some half dozen Mamluk structures.[6] It is composed of a number of cell-like quarters with narrowly packed fortified houses functioning as a boundary to each area, with gates at the end of the main streets.[7] It has an approximate area of 20.6 hectares (51 acres; 0.206 km2), housing thousands of residents.

It became the third World Heritage Site in the State of Palestine in 2017,[8] and was inscribed on the official List of World Heritage in Danger as "Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town".[9]

 2019 map by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, showing the humanitarian impact of Israeli settlements in Hebron city. The Old City is mostly in the "Restricted Area"

The 1997 Hebron Agreement, part of the Oslo Accords, placed the Old City in area "H2", maintaining the Israeli military control which it has been under since 1967.[10] According to Btselem report , the Palestinian population in the Old City greatly declined since the early 1980s because of the impact of Israeli security measures, including extended curfews, strict restrictions on movement and the closure of Palestinian commercial activities near settler areas, and also due to settler harassment.[11][12][13][14] The IDF responded to the report by saying that "The IDF is well aware that curfews are seen as drastic measures, not to be used except for situations where they are essential for protecting the lives of civilians and soldiers ...Hebron is the only Palestinian city in which Israeli and Palestinian residents live side by side. Due to this, and the large number of terrorist attacks against the Israeli residents and the IDF soldiers protecting them, the city poses a complex security challenge."[11] The efforts of the internationally funded Hebron Rehabilitation Committee resulted in the return of more than 6,000 Palestinians by 2015.[15] In 2019, the Temporary International Presence in Hebron was expelled from the city.[16] It issued a confidential report which found that Israel routinely violates international law in Hebron and that it is in "severe and regular breach" of the rights to non-discrimination laid out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights over the lack of freedom to movement for the Palestinian residents of Hebron.[17]

The rehabilitation of the Old City won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1998.[18]

^ Jericke 2003, p. 17: "Spätestens in römischer Zeit ist die Ansiedlung im Tal beim heutigen Stadtzentrum zu finden Zwischen beiden Fundstellen, am Ostfuß des Gebel erRuméde, liegt die für die Wasserversorgung der Stadt wichtige Quelle Ain el-Guděde" ^ Achim Lichtenberger, Juden, Idumäer und „Heiden“. Die herodianischen Bauten in Hebron und Mamre, in: L.- M. Günther (ed.), Herodes und Rom (Stuttgart 2007), p.59: "Die hellenistisch-römische Stadt lag im Tal dazwischen" ^ Shahin & Bert Geith 2017, p. 54. ^ Shahin & Bert Geith 2017, p. 19: "Soon after the first Islamic Period (Umayyad Period), Al-Ibrahimi Mosque/The Tomb of Patriarchs became the focal point around which the town was built and strongly influenced its development, similar to the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. Today, the historic town centre is dominated by the Mamluk architecture style built between 1250 and 1517... Mamluk architecture is predominant in Hebron/Al-Khalil’s historic centre. The urban fabric (street network and quarters), the ahwash (living units), the public buildings, the souks and the traditional way of life still retain the original spirit of the town. Most of the public and religious buildings that are still intact date back to this period. They are lavishly decorated with ornamental motifs such as muqarnas (stalactites or alveoles), ablaq (inlaid coloured marble panels), monumental inscriptions, etc." ^ UNESCO Nomination Executive Summary: "The existing urban structure dates back to the Mamluk period... The boundaries of the proposed site correspond to the boundaries of the continuous fabric of Hebron/Al-Khalil Town during the Mamluk Period... Since the Mamluk era, the morphological configration of the old town and the spatial organisation of the urban fabric have remained mostly- unchanged, and the main distinctive attributes have been retained." ^ Vitullo 2003, p. 68. ^ PEF Survey, volume III, p.305 ^ Unesco Declares Hebron’s Core as Palestinian World Heritage Site ^ Decision : 41 COM 8C.1 Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Inscribed Properties) ^ "Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron". United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine. Non-UN document. January 17, 1997. Archived from the original on October 24, 2007. ^ a b "Israeli NGO issues damning report on situation in Hebron". Agence France-Presse. ReliefWeb. August 19, 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-10-21. ^ "Hebron, Area H-2: Settlements Cause Mass Departure of Palestinians" (PDF). B'Tselem. August 2003. "In total, 169 families lived on the three streets in September 2000, when the intifada began. Since then, seventy-three families—forty-three percent—have left their homes." ^ "Palestine Refugees: a challenge for the International Community". United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. ReliefWeb. October 10, 2006. Archived from the original on October 17, 2006. Settler violence has forced out over half the Palestinian population in some neighborhoods in the downtown area of Hebron. This once bustling community is now eerily deserted, and presents a harrowing existence for those few Palestinians who dare to remain or who are too deep in poverty to move elsewhere. ^ "Ghost Town: Israel's Separation Policy and Forced Eviction of Palestinians from the Center of Hebron". B'Tselem. May 2007. ^ A ghost city revived: the remarkable transformation of Hebron ^ "Israeli police report reveals truth about expulsion of observers in Hebron". MEMO. December 21, 2019. Retrieved March 7, 2020. ^ "Confidential 20-year monitoring report: Israel regularly breaks int'l law in Hebron". haaretz.com. 2018-12-17. Retrieved 2018-12-17. ^ Dumper 2007, pp. 164–167.
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