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The politics of the middle-east are fascinating, I’ve been so eager to come here and find out what’s going on for years and finally I made it. I was in Palestine last week and I made a second trip to it today, although with a very different spin.

hebron palestine

As you guys know I’m staying at the very awesome Abraham’s hostel in while im traveling in Jerusalem, Israel, and they run an awesome tour to Hebron, really something special. What the guys at Abraham hostel have tried to organize is a tour which takes you through the Israeli side of Hebron with a Jewish Israeli guide, then you get passed on to an Arabic Palestinian guide to take you through the Palestinian side, in the hope that we’ll get two different narratives, and we certainly got that.

free israel free palestine
Tensions running high here

The tour costs around $55 which is pretty pricey, considering the fact that you also have to take public transport to get to Hebron city. That being said, without the tour you’d have no chance of getting two such dramatics sides to one very difficult situation.

Hebron Palestinian side
Flying the Palestinian flag

Hebron is another very holy place, both to Jews and Muslims in that it was the home of Abraham which makes it a very contentious place unfortunately. Basically, this area of the Palestinian West Bank is under complete Israeli control, the city of 170, 000 has about 1000 Jews living there in settlements and about 169, 000 Muslims living there. This has caused a lot of tension with the Muslims blaming the Jews for encroaching on their land and vice-versa so there’s a permanent heavy police force.

Hebron israel palestine
Muslims on one side, Jews on the other :S

When I arrived in Hebron, our guide (Israeli/American Jew) took us to the Jewish area, when the ‘settlers’ have lived for decades. We heard a lady speak brilliantly, she told a harrowing story about her father being murdered right were we were sitting and how the guy is free under a recent peace agreement. She was staunchly pro-Israel, anti-Palestine but in a way it was quite refreshing to get someone speaking candidly about it, and no doubt she suffered a great loss. We wandered around the Jewish side for a while longer, check out a synagogue and then it was time for us to be passed over.

welcome to apartheid

Our Palestinian guide (young, switched on guy about 20) came and picked us up and brought us all to his house for dinner. He was a great guy actually and very open about the situation. He took us to the rooftops of their houses and showed how the Israelis had destroyed their water supply etc, it was quite nerve wracking actually.

check points in Hebron
Check points are dotted throughout the city

We heard stories about abuse by the soldiers, curfews, people throwing stones an d bottles. I’m well aware the truth behind the situation is probably somewhere between the two stories I hard today, but what an interesting way to run a tour, it was excellent.

starbucks fake
Just a little pic to lighten the mood, a great copy I came across in Palestine!

After walking around the old town, we wandered back to his house, had some tea, and we were off back to Jerusalem. I learned a lot today, perhaps somethings I couldn’t have done without knowing, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to see Hebron up close. Don’t miss it guys, it’s integral to understanding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

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11 thoughts on “Visiting Hebron in the Palestinian West Bank

  1. As for the person asking about a “road” with noone driving on it. That road is Rechov David Melech (King David Street). In 1951, with Jews having been gone since 1936 as notedin my earlier post, Arabs desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery (since partially restored) and used our grave markers to repave it as well as to pave over an atea where our homes were demolished to create “al Hisbe” the infamous produce market. Jordan in 1952 renamed the street “al Shuhadah” as an insult to Jews, the nane referrinv to the Islamic credo (There is no deoty but Allah & Muhamnad is His Prophet).

    The street was made pedestrian only in 2004 following 8 Arab terrorist attacks against Jews in less than 90-days. Anyone may walk on it though if markedly non Jewish an ID check usually ensues before you are allowed to traverse. This is due to the fact that for the last (almost) 15-years the road only leads to 2 Jewish compounds.

    As for “Musñims on one side, Jews on the other,” I stated correctly that Hebron is demarcated into 2 sectors, H1 & H2. H1 is entirely under the PA, and is 82% of the city. Israel administers H2, which is 18% of Hebron as I noted. Jews are barred by law from even stepping foot in H1 and to rent, lease or sell even 1-square meter of space or land to a Jew is a mandatory capital offence under PA Law. Sorry if that upsets your worldview but they are irefutable facts just like the fact that any Arab may enter, live and/or work in H2.

    It is also an irefutable fact that within H2 Jews are further llimited legally to 6 tiny locations that collectively form 3% of the sector. That translates into Jews only being legally allowed to live and/or work in just 1/10th of 1% of Hebron. Arabs have 99.9% of Hebron. Tha is a fact as well.

  2. “he massacre is horrific, but the Isrealis have done worse in the last 2 weeks alone.”
    You cannot pick a side and pretend to be non biased.

  3. I enjoyed the entry but I need to make a few corrections. First, there are 22,000 Jews living amongst 28,000 Arabs, not 1,000 Jews amongst 169,000 Arabs. Hebron is divided into two sectors, H1 and H2. H1 is entirely Arab, fully under PA administration and security. No Jew may live or work there according to PA Law though they do make exceptions for foreign Leftisrs. H2 is where Jews live. The municipality of Kiryat Arba is immediately adjacent with a dried stream separating it from H2. It creates a physically contigious bloc of Jews that actually numbers more than 34,000 if one counts Arba’s sattelite clusters but on paper the number is 22,000.

    Jews- like my family- lived continuously in Hebron since the Biblical Era. Even during the Crusader Banif nearly 200 years we and others like us became Crypto Jews, outwardly adopting Christianity to retain out property, etc. since the 12th Century CE we lived openly as Jews. In 1929 that changed.

    Arabs have always committed pogroms against us, 1799, 1817, 1834 and so on but in 1929 we were subsequently Ethnically Cleansed. Jews returned for four years during the 1930s but in 1937 were again Ethnically Cleansed as the Arab Revolt was at its apex.

    From 1936 until 1968 no Jews lived in the city, a total of 32 years. When we returned in 1968 out synagogues were literally used as livestock barbs, stables and even public loos. Our properties were rooted. On just my father’s side, the Slonim Dweks, we lost 119 properties so imagine all the other families. H2, the bulk of it, sits in the Jewish Quarter, so no Jews deprived Arabs of anything in Hebron and even if there were just 100 Jews living amongst 1 million Arabs the Jews would still be entitled to return.

    When you go on these tours- and just because it has a Jewish tourguide does not mean it repeesents anyone’s perspective other than that tourguide. Many Leftist NGOs run tours and simply recite lies over and over. I will give you an example. Remember your photo with the caption, “Jews on one side, Arabs on the other?” That is 100% false. The street is called “al Shuhada,” but only received THAT name in 1953 under Jordan in an effort to cleanse the town even of its Jewish heritage. The street is actually named “Rechov Daveed Melech,” King David Street. It was the main thoroughfare of the Jewish Quarter.

    Today no Arab is forbidden from walking antwhere. All they need do is show ID and if there is reason to suspect something, submit to a bag search.” Those who actually live in H2 and who are familiar with security forces need not even endure those inconviences.

    H2 is 18% of Hebron. Even within H2 Jews are restricted by IDF Orders and the Government as a whole to less than just 2% of H2. Ergo, Jews may only live in a mere 1/10th of 1% in all of Hebron.

    Lastly, calling the land “Palestine” is nonsensical, especially Hebron. It means ” Land of the Phillistines,” a Proto-Greek people from the Aegaean.

    For anyone interested in Hebron or any other questions about the issues in the immediate region, you can look me up on Facebook.

      1. Johnny: What has Israel done that you can call it “horrific?” Jews are the land’s indigenous people. Hebron was the capital of a sovereign state half a millenia before the very first Arab appeared IN ARABIA in 853 BCE.

        When the very first Arabs INVADED Hebron in 638 CE Jews had lived there continuously for 2,000+ years.

        Since that Arab invasion the city had always had a continuous Jewish population, until 1929. You want to talk about “horrific?” My uncle Aharon was not yet 3-years oñd. Arabs grabbed him by his legs and slammed his head against a brick wall and literally broke just about every bone in his body. Then they castrated him. He managed to survive long enough to be Ethnically Cleansed 3-days later. He died in Strauss Street Clinic in Jerusalem a day later having never regained consciousness. He was merely 1 of 67 Jewe murdered. Hehad been in his mum’s arms- a junior wife of my grandfather- as she was gang raped and died after both breasts were sawed off. My grandfather had been shot in his face just as Arabs burst in.

        You know nothing about us. You call me a “Settler.” I, a Jew whose family has a documented history in Hebron going back at least to the 4th Century CE under Rome, is portrayed by you as some sort of Apartheid-practicing Westerner who has no business in Hebron.

        Granted that your last comment seems to have been a half a decade ago so that possibly you have come to hold a different perspective. I hope that this has happened.

  4. What an historical place to visit – for more reasons that one. Interesting photo with Muslims on one side and Jews on the other… We read a lot about this part of the world in the news, so it’s great that you’re seeing it for yourself.

  5. Hey Johnny,
    I was just in Hebron a few month ago. It’s definitely a must see for backpackers to Israel. Definitely safer than people think. I guess it can depend on the day though. I found it really interesting that at checkpoints they had german and russian guards as part of an international non-un peacekeeping force.

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