Located 35 km south of Jerusalem and 1012 m above sea level, the city of Hebron is the main urban center on the West Bank of the Jordan.
The city sits at the crossroads of historic routes from Jerusalem to Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula and the Dead Sea on the Mediterranean coast.
Considered one of the oldest cities in the world, the city of Hebron has been renowned for centuries for its grapes, blown glass and painted ceramic workshops, stone and marble quarries, leather working and more again by its main monument – the Haram al-Ibrahimi / Tomb of the Patriarchs – holy place of the 3 monotheistic religions.
The city today has more than 200,000 residents and the district approximately 700,000. Three universities are present, bringing together around 25,000 students: the University of Hebron, the Polytechnic University and the Al-Quds Open University.
Since January 1997, 80% of the city is administered by the Palestinian Authority (zone H1) while 20% of the city has remained under Israeli control (H2, including the old city and its surroundings and the Tomb of the Patriarchs).
Hebron is the city that embodies the violence of the conflict and the slow spoliation of the Palestinian populations by the settlers. It is also the city where the establishment of settlements in the very heart of the old city makes cohabitation difficult and where apartheid is directly visible. The Palestinian populations are subjected to multiple controls, notably at checkpoints in the old city, making daily life particularly difficult.
Under the British Mandate in 1929, in response to riots in Jerusalem over attempts by Zionist movements to change the status quo regarding access to the Western Wall, 67 Jews were killed in Hebron while hundreds more are protected by the Palestinian people. Between 1948 and 1949, Hebron passed under Egyptian control then under Jordanian control (1950-1967). From 1969, the first Israeli colonies appeared around Hebron and many old buildings were destroyed by the Israelis near the sanctuary to enlarge the esplanade and create an access between the settlement of Kyriat Arba and the tomb of the Patriarchs. As early as 1976, Israeli settlers settled in central Hebron. In 1994, a settler from Kyriat Arba, Baruch Goldstein, entered the Mosque of Abraham during prayer (Ramadan and Purim period) and shot at the crowd: 29 Palestinians were killed and nearly 200 injured. In 1997, following the agreement on the redeployment of the Israeli army in Hebron, the city is divided into two parts: the H1 part is placed under Palestinian authority and the H2 part under Israeli military control. Since 2000, part of the old city (including Martyrs’ Street, the old main street) has been prohibited for Palestinians. More than 1,000 dwellings have been abandoned and 1,900 stores closed for economic reasons or by decision of the Israeli army. Today there are 6 Israeli settlements in the heart of the old city, comprising around 500 settlers protected by 1,500 to 2,500 soldiers.