Hebron is an ancient city located 20 miles south of Jerusalem, in the West Bank. With a population of more than 200,000 Palestinians and around 1,000 Israeli settlers, Hebron is the largest city in the Palestinian territory. Its name in both Hebrew (Hevron) and Arabic (Al-Khalil) translates to “friend”, a reference to Patriarch Abraham. Hebron is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world and has been an important focus of religious worship for more than two millennia. Hebron is built on several hills and wadis, most of which run from north to south.
It is home to the University of Hebron and the Polytechnic University of Palestine. The old city of Hebron is characterized by its narrow and winding streets, stone houses with flat roofs and ancient bazaars. It is famous for its grape workshops, limestone, ceramics and blown glass factories. The 1967 war saw Israeli troops enter Hebron, with the IDF chaplain placing a Torah scroll inside the mosque. Other findings include a four-chambered house, jars with ancient Hebrew inscriptions with the words “to the king of Hebron” and a section of the city wall.
The Ministry of Housing and Construction has created the “Association for the Renewal of the Jewish Community of Hebron”, to carry out projects in the city. In 1929, after Arab attacks in Jerusalem, the leaders of the Haganah proposed to defend Jews from the Yishuv in Hebron or help them to evacuate. Both countries appointed military governors in the city, hoping to gain recognition from Hebron officials. The only exception was Yaakov ben Shalom Ezra, an eighth-generation Hebronite who blended well with his social landscape and resided there under the protection of friends. In 1979, Levinger's wife led 30 Jewish women to take charge of the former Hadassah hospital, now Beit Hadassah, in the center of Hebron. This marked the beginning of the Hebron Jewish Community Committee. Hebron was an ancient royal Canaanite city, which according to archaeological findings was probably founded in 3,500 BC.
Towards the end of the period of cross rule, Maimonides was able to visit Hebron and wrote about it. After an initial period of deliberation, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol's worker-led government decided to temporarily move Jews to a nearby IDF compound while building a new community called Kiryat Arba next to Hebron. The 1997 statement made by an association composed of some descendants who dissociate themselves from then current Jewish settlers in Hebron and describe them as obstacles to peace is one example of descendants' opinions on this matter. Jews continued to live in Hebron after its conquest by Arabs (in 63), whose generally tolerant rule was well received after Byzantine rule. In 1997, in accordance with the Hebron Agreement, Israel withdrew 80% of Hebron that had been handed over to the Palestinian Authority. Jewish settlers have their own municipal governing body, the Hebron Jewish Community Committee.