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Hebron

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

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 - TIPH[?] (1) is responsible for maintaining a bufer 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.

Hebron is one of most ancient cities in the Middle East, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. 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.

All throughout the history of Palestine, there was a significant Jewish presence in Hebron (which was one of the four "sacred communities" - ancient cities which were sites of Jewish religious activity). This was all interrupted in one day, on August 1, 1929, when an Arab mob lynched 67 Jews and made all others flee. For 38 years, there were no more Jews in Hebron and the Jewish worship in the town was stopped. Following the Six-Day War of 1967, a group of Jews (many of them owners of property taken away from them or their families in 1929), led by Rabbi Moshe Levenger[?] returned to Hebron and renewed the Jewish presence there.

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 has 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.

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

Geographic coordinates : 31°32N 35°06E

See also : Israel -- Palestine

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Hebron is also a the name of several places in the United States of America: see



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