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

Hebron (Hebrew: Chevron; Arabic: Al Khalil) is a town in the West Bank.

Geographic coordinates : 31°32N 35°06E

In 1990, the estimated population was 80,000. Since early 1997 most of the town has been controlled by the Palestinian Authority, in accordance with the Hebron accords (signed by PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu). An international unarmed observer force - Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) (1) is responsible for maintaining a buffer between the Palestinian and Israeli sides (which is in control of the Jewish quarter in Hebron). In March of 2002, two TIPH observers were killed and one wounded by Palestinian gunmen. TIPH patrols in the Jewish areas of the city were temporarily suspended after repeated confrontations with Israeli settler youths.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Population at different times
3 1929 Massacre
4 Jewish resettlement after 1967
5 1994 Massacre
6 Al-Aqsa Intifada
7 External links


Hebron is one of most ancient cities in the Middle East, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Hebron was a Canaanite city captured by the Israelites in Biblical times. The Gibeonites of Gibeon, a city that had belonged in the Amorite League made a treaty with the Israelites, therefore the Amorites decided to destroy Gibeon as a lession to other cities. The rulers of Gibeon went to the Israeli general Joshua and asked for his to destroy the Amorite armies which he did. Then he captured all the Amorite cities including Hebron.

Hebron was probably founded in the 18th century BC. It is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. In particular, a cave near it, called the Cave of the Patriarchs (Hebrew: "ma'arat ha-machpela"), is traditionally considered the place where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah are buried. This cave is considered holy by both Jews and Muslims, and is site of both a Jewish shrine and a mosque.

Hebron was an ancient Canaanite royal city.

David was anointed King of Israel in Hebron and reigned in the city till the capture of Jerusalem, when the capitol was moved to that city.

Except possibly for a few periods for which the facts are unclear, and the periods 1929-1931 and 1936-1968, there has been a significant Jewish presence in Hebron since Biblical times. In Jewish tradition, Hebron is one of the four "sacred communities" - ancient cities which were sites of Jewish religious activity.

Population at different times

this needs expansion to both earlier and later times

   year       Jews     Christians     Arabs     source
    1538       20h         7h            749h    Cohen & Lewis (h = households)
    1922      430         73          16,074     census
    1931      135        112          17,275     census
    1944        0         150         24,400     estimate
    1994      450           ---70,000---

(the [JDL]'s number do not include surrounding neighborhoods)

1929 Massacre

A long-running dispute between Muslims and Jews over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem became steadily more violent until, on August 23, 1929, a mob of Arabs inflamed by false rumours that two Arabs had been killed by Jews started a murderous attack on Jews in the Old City. The violence quickly spread to other parts of Palestine. The worst atrocities were in Hebron and Safad, where massacres of Jews occurred. In Hebron, Arab mobs killed 67 Jews and wounded many others. The lone British policeman in the town was overwhelmed and the reinforcements he called for did not arrive for 5 hours (leading to bitter recriminations). Most of the other Jews survived by hiding with their Arab neighbors. The surviving Jews were evacuated from the town. A few dozen families returned in 1931 but the community never reestablished itself and there were no Jews remaining in Hebron by 1936.

Jewish resettlement 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 community 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.

1994 Massacre

On February 26, 1994, one of the settlers in Hebron, Dr. Baruch Goldstein, shot and killed 29 Palestinians while they were praying in the Hebron mosque. The Israeli government, as well as the vast majority of the Israeli and settler public strongly condemned this atrocity. However, extremists from Israel and abroad (in particular belonging to the right-wing Kach movement) have expressed support of his actions.

Following these events, Kach has been outlawed. A commission of inquiry established by Chief Justice Meir Shamgar has found that Goldstein had acted on his own. The victims of the shooting received substancial financial compensation; several attempts to attack Arabs by other extremists were thwarted by Israeli security forces in the years following the attack.

Al-Aqsa Intifada

Since the beginning of hostilities, Hebron and its serrounding villages (such as Dura) were a stronghold of the fundementalist Islamic militias Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. They both used Hebron as base of operation to commit terror attacks against Israeli civilians in Judea and Jerusalem.

On the eve of November 15, 2002, Palestinian gunmen in Hebron killed 12 Israeli soldiers who were supposed to protect settlers returning from prayer. The attack was quickly termed "Sabbath Night Massacre". Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

In August 19, a suicide bomber from Hebron, exploded himself on a bus full of children in the center of Jerusalem, killing 23 people. In response the IDF began a series of raids in order to capture or kill Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in Hebron. Within two months the leaders of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Hebron (Muhammed Seeder and Ahmed Majid Abu-Dosh of the Jihad; Abbedallah Qawasameh, Ahmed Bader, Izzedin Misk and Bassal Qawasameh of the Hamas) were all killed by the IDF elite units.

See also : Israel -- Palestine

External links