Hebron is one of the most sacred ancient cities in the Holy Land, and is the site of the burial cave of patriarchs and matriarchs. Located in the hills of Judea, south of Jerusalem, it is home to the oldest Jewish community in the world. According to Jewish tradition, Abraham purchased the field where Macpelah's tomb is located as a burial place for his wife Sarah. The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Lea are all believed to be buried there.
In August 1929, a tragic event occurred in Hebron when Arab residents of the city massacred its small Jewish community under the blind surveillance of the British Mandate Police. After Hebron was liberated in 1967, Major General Rabbi Shlomo Goren became the first Jew to enter Machpela's tomb. For centuries, Hebron was administered by various Muslim dynasties until the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Situated at an altitude of 3,050 feet (930 meters), Hebron has long enjoyed a temperate climate that has enabled it to cultivate fruit trees and vineyards.
In 1997, an agreement was reached between Israel and Palestine that restricted Jewish presence to a single 1-kilometer street in Hebron. In July 1855, Kamil and his army marched to Hebron with representatives from Western consulates as witnesses. According to the Bible, Abraham settled in Hebron and purchased the Cave of the Patriarchs as a burial place for his wife Sarah. The graves of other biblical figures (Abner ben Ner, Otniel ben Kenaz, Ruth and Jesse) are also found in the city.
During the Byzantine period, Hebron was a small town but was considered a holy place due to its historic burial site. The destruction of Judea led Southern Idumites to occupy Hebron after they were expelled from their homeland in Transjordan by Nabateans. Following an agreement reached in January 1997, part of Hebron came under Palestinian Authority (PA) control while part remained under Israeli control. Its strategic location at a natural crossroads also made it an attractive travel route for many centuries.
The PEF report on Tel Hebron includes information about its ruins. Jewish settlers have their own municipal governing body known as the Hebron Jewish Community Committee. The city's main commercial artery is located along Jerusalem Highway and includes modern multi-storey shopping malls.