2 Faces of Hebron: Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Expectation

Background

This is one of the places where the Israeli – Arab violent clashes happen.

Hebron or Al Khalil is the largest city in the West Bank and the second largest city after Gaza in the Palestinian Territories.

Separated into two areas called H1 and H2 H1 is controlled by the Palestinian Authority while H2 is 20% controlled by Israel. Even though Hebron is largely under Palestinian Authority, there is a large presence of Israeli settlements.

I toured H2, both the Palestinian and the Israeli quarters, to hear stories from both sides.

THIS was the highlight of my trip, apart from Al Aqsa.

I was so nervous and excited!

Issues

Nervous because I didn’t think I’d be welcomed in the Israeli side, it might even be dangerous, and excited because I’ll go “undercover”!

The tour operator told me via email that I wouldn’t be allowed into the Israeli side of the Ibrahimi Mosque aka Cave of the Patriachs if I were to be openly muslim (I guess it would be considered as a provocation to the Jews or they might mistake me as a Palestinian), so they suggested that I remove the hijab before entering or stay outside while the group goes in.

No way ever I was going to stay outside or remove my hijab. So I wore my hijab as a turban to defuse some attention and for my safety.

The Journey

At the hostel lobby

We met our tour guide at the hostel lobby. It was a small tour group, maybe around ten of us. I liked this group immediately.

We introduced ourselves and when the tour guide found out I was from Singapore, he said, “you can eat and drink in our buses”. LOL!

Bus Station

There was no coach like the trip to Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem. We took public tram to the bus station, which was inside a small mall, and then we took a public bus to Hebron.

We got our stuff checked upon entering the mall, just like in airports. There were soldiers EVERYWHERE. I was so nervous.

What did I get myself into?

Bullet-proof bus

After going through security, we went through the mall to get to the bus station. We got into the queue and the tour guide started telling us some background of Hebron.

In the bus, I heard someone said that the bus was bullet-proof. I panicked and then thought, “ok, at least I’m safe because I’m inside”. The bus made some stops and suddenly many soldiers boarded, I thought, “oh shit”. They all had rifles strapped to their bodies. I’ve never been so close to a rifle before!

The bus ride was nerve-wrecking. I tried talking to ease my nervousness but after some time I gave up. It was tiring. I was hoping no one would think I was a muslim.

The journey was probably more than an hour long.

Weather

It was a VERY cold morning when we started in Jerusalem. Temperature was about 6 degree Celsius, wind was strong. I was freezing!

A very kind lady lent me her jacket throughout the trip, couldn’t thank her enough.

If I had brought a more suitable jacket and walking shoes, it would be a comfortable experience throughout the day.

People

We had local tour guides – a Palestinian and an Israeli settler. They brought us through the respective sides of the tour on foot. We saw locals but never interacted with them.

Both guides told us that even though there’s high friction between the Palestinians and Israeli settlers, they were friends and could work together.

Jewish Settler Guide

However, towards the end of the tour, the Israeli guide told us that he wouldn’t trust the Palestinian guide 100% because he don’t know if the Palestinian guide would suddenly do something to harm him. Personally I think this is a breach of trust but maybe living in high tension area changes things.

There was once he said something like, “I don’t know if there’s any muslim in this group – I don’t want to know.” I suspected he knew I was a muslim.

Palestinian Guide

The Palestinian guide have my respect as a muslim. In Ramadhan or the fasting month, Hebron would be very HOT and daylight hours are long but he managed to keep his fast throughout. Plus, he lives under occupation, which is never easy for any human being.

Another thing, he openly admitted that he is married and off the market. BRAVO!

Palestinian/Arab Quarter

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No room for technology addiction, kids playing in the streets; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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No matter the living condition, kids are innocent at heart. Play is good for them, even under occupation; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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Looking shy; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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Bigger kids with bikes; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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A little bit of normalcy but only in pictures. Shops open but no customers; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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Playing with a shopping cart, simplicity of life or deficiency of toys/gadgets? Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh

Israeli/Jewish Quarter

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Toddlers looking like they were waiting for their school bus; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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Israeli kids playing ball while soldiers looked on; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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Free Israel or Free Palestine?; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh

Food

We had a traditional meal with our Palestinian tour guide – rice, yogurt and salad.

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Palestinian food cooked by our tour guide’s wife (I believe)

I think we were brought to the Palestinian guide’s home because this is where we met his toddler son.

Sightseeing

We were picked up by our Jewish settler guide from our hostel in Jerusalem.

He passed us to our Palestinian guide upon reaching, took us back after our Palestinian tour ended and started his tour in the Israeli quarter. After that he accompanied us back to Jerusalem.

Old City – Palestinian Quarter

The main story by the Palestinian guide: status and treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government and settlers.

Law Injustice

In summary, Palestinians are subjected under military law while Israelis are under civilian law. Under military law, you’re treated like criminals – high control even when you’re innocent.

This means Palestinians are guilty of anything an Israeli accuses them of, regardless if it’s true or not, unless there’s a clear video footage showing the former’s innocence.

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Some shops were open but there were no customers.

Life Injustice

Notice the wire mesh above the shops? The ground level is where the shops are and the upper level were Palestinian houses. When Israeli settlers came, they took away the houses and lived in them. The metal mesh above the shops were put up by the Palestinians to filter out rubbish thrown by the Israeli settlers. They even threw bleach and other liquids, which easily passes through the mesh.

The houses (or even land) were taken away by the Israeli settlers by producing documents that states their ownership of the property, usually from centuries ago and it is regarded as legal tender by the Israeli government. Conversely, legal documents that the Palestinians had were not legal tender and they were driven out.

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“Take pictures, take lots of pictures. Bring them home and show people how we live. There are 2 watchtowers above us. We are not animals. We don’t deserve this,” shopkeeper.

This quote was said by an old shopkeeper. I was surprised he spoke perfect English. It shows that Palestinians are educated people.

There were two watchtowers from where we were standing. Soldiers would man the watchtowers to monitor the movement of the Palestinians below.

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Selling fruits in a ghost town.
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Seems like this place, without occupation, would be bustling with trade; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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No business; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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Old buildings, new flag; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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The occupation caused businesses to fold and Palestinian residents declined greatly over time.
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Walking through the Old City
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This was an official government building for the Palestinians. A ‘scuffle’ happened in the area and Israeli government took over the building temporarily; in a bid to control the situation but never left.

Other Injustices

  • No freedom of travel – to enter Israel is a definite no, to other parts of Palestine would be very difficult with the many checkpoints even within their own neighbourhood and to exit Palestine, they’d have to go via Jordan.
  • Blacklisted by the Israeli government for 96 years and if they were to live that long, the blacklist will be renewed. No reason for the blacklist given.
  • Water sources diverted to the Israeli settlers.

Ibrahimi Mosque – Palestinian Quarter

Palestinians call this the Ibrahimi Mosque while the Israelis call it Me’arat ha-Makhpela. In English, it is known as Cave of the Patriachs.

The cave is located beneath a mosque, which had been converted from a large rectangular Judean structure. This cave is believed to be where Prophet Ibrahim AS and his wife, Prophet Ishaq AS and his wife, and Prophet Ya’kub AS and his wife were buried.

It is also believed that Prophet Adam AS and his wife, Hawa, were buried here as well. Allahu a’lam.

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Cave of the Patriachs, this is the second holiest site for the Jews after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Photo credit: By Utilisateur:Djampa – User:Djampa – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7964820

Entry Requirement

Modest clothing must be observed here and those who are not properly dressed will be given long robes to cover up. Even though I was fully covered, I was wearing loose pants and that wasn’t allowed as well.

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Ceiling and chandelier of Ibrahimi Mosque.
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Ceiling architecture in Ibrahimi Mosque
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Mimbar

Hebron Massacre

In 1994, during the overlapping jewish and muslim celebrations of Purim and Ramadhan, Baruch Goldstein slipped into the mosque during Fajr congregation prayer of 800 muslims, waited for the congregration to go into sujud position before opening fire.

Casualties

The entrance was facing the same direction as the qibla, so they were shot from behind, killing 29 and wounding 125. The gunman was stopped only when one of the survivors threw a fire extinguisher to his head and then the others beat him to death.

Issue

Only 1 out of the 9 soldiers supposedly to be on duty that day was actually guarding the mosque and Goldstein went in with soldier gear so no one stopped him from entering.

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800 people were in this prayer area during the massacre
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Location of one of the two entrances to the burial site of Abraham AS and his family is somewhere here. Exact location is unknown as it has been hidden.
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Tomb-markers of Issac (Prophet Ishaq AS) and Rebekah (Rifqa binti Batnail, Prophet Ishaq’s wife)
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More prayer space
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The other entrance to the cave below but no access.

Exiting Palestinian territory

There were many checkpoints in H2. This is one of them.

For tourists, no issue but for the Palestinians, there were certain timings to be observed and full body screenings are done on a daily basis.

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Entrance of the checkpoint, we were on the way out of the Palestinian quarter; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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One of the checkpoints in H2; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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The soldiers would gladly pose for photos and selfies with tourists; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
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Where our Palestinian tour ends. The kids playing around here were very entrepreneurial, selling us ‘Palestine’ wrist bands; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh

Small boys were playing here, which was fine but what disturbed me was the soldiers on patrol further down the street.

On the other side of this picture were hundreds of soldiers doing an educational tour. It is part of their training.

Cave of the Patriachs – Israeli Quarter

This is the second most holiest site for the Jews, first is the Temple Mount aka Al Aqsa.

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The window to view the tomb markings of Prophet Abraham from the Israeli side. A similar window is available from the Palestinian side; Photo credit: By A ntv – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12042233
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Tomb markers of Abraham and Sarah on the border of both the Muslim and Jewish section of the cave so both have access; Photo credit: By Ericstoltz at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Xcx using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5257765
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
The view was incredible; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Conflicting beauty; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Soldiers-in-training; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh

I have never seen that many soldiers (apart from Singapore’s National Day parade). Both boys and girls were doing the educational training around Hebron, we saw them everywhere in the Israeli side.

H2, Israeli side

The main story of the Israeli settler guide: the need for a Jewish state to gain respect from the world (because Jews are the most discriminated race for centuries) and no one can ‘bully’ them anymore, how the land belongs to the Jews due to the evidences of Jewish settlements since thousands of years ago, that God has promised them the land and they are taking what is rightfully theirs.

Checkpoint

Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Another checkpoint to go through; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh

I was nervous throughout the tour but I was even more nervous going through the checkpoints because I had 3 pins stuck to my turban. There were metal detectors here and we all had to go through it.

I was imagining myself being thoroughly checked, requiring me to remove all the pins before being allowed inside and that would slow down the tour and affect everyone’s time. But nothing happened. Alhamdulillah.

Shapira Gate

Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
We were on the Israeli side and just about 50m ahead, where the graffiti wall is, is the Palestinian side.
 Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
The killing of a rabbi

Shalhevet Pass Memorial

 Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Cradle of fire – highly symbolic in the killing of an innocent infant
The Attack

On March 26, 2001, Shalhevet Pass, a jewish 10-month old infant was shot in her stroller by a Palestinian sniper. One of the sniper’s bullets penetrated the baby’s head, passing through her skull, killing her instantly.

Her father, who was pushing the stroller, was hit by the bullets as well, causing serious wounds.

Aftermath

In December 2004 a military court convicted the killer and sentenced him to three life terms.

The child’s father, later joined the Bat Ayin Underground terrorist group which planned to blow up a Palestinian girls’ school in East Jerusalem. He was later arrested and convicted for possession of 10 pounds of explosives. He served a two-year prison sentence.

Avraham Avinu Synagogue

1540: built in Jewish Quarter of Hebron

1738:  restored

1864: enlarged

1929: unused since 1929 riots

1948: destroyed and turned into a goat and donkey pen during Arab-Israeli war

1976: restored

Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Synagogue’s interior and this is where a rabbi told us its history and Jews living in Hebron before and after 1929; Photo credit: By בית השלום – Wikipedia hébreu he:קובץ:בית כנסת אברהם אבינו.JPG, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8842066
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Torah scrolls dating back to the exiles from the Spanish Inquisition who fled to Hevron. These scrolls were rescued from the 1929 riots and reinstated in the rebuilt synagogue in the 1970s.

The rabbi, who gave us a summarised history of Hebron, was one of the people who volunteered to clean up the synagogue for restoration.

Al Shuhada Street

Al Shuhada Street aka Martyrs Street in Arabic or King David Street for the Jews is in the Palestinian territories, the main road leading to the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

Brief history: 1990s

1994: Israel closed the street for Palestinians, all 304 Palestinian shops, municipal and governmental offices, and turned the central bus station into an Israeli army base.

1997: street was reopened for traffic for a year; shops remained closed

1998: vehicles where prohibited again, street was alternately opened and closed, finally closed for all Palestinians upon the Second Intifada, all entrances to the houses in al-Shuhada Street were sealed, house owners enter their home by climbing the roofs or through holes in the wall

Brief history: 2000s

2006: IDF declared Palestinian pedestrians had been refused entry for six years “by mistake”, some Palestinians and activists were permitted access for 3 days, stones were thrown by Jewish settler children and not stopped by policemen and soldiers, a 75-year-old volunteer was arrested for trying to prevent soldier from kicking colleague, street was declared “closed military area”, entirely closed as ″there had been disturbances at that spot in the last few days″

2007: night before the Supreme Court would hear the case, Civil Administration issued temporary permits to some Palestinian occupants to re-use their main entrance on the street

2008:  permits were no longer renewed

Today: Palestinian shops and vehicles still prohibited, Palestinian pedestrians subject to frequent rigorous control, sometimes banned from entering

Marketplace
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Sign put up by the Jewish community of Hebron
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Inside of the ruined shop space; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Ruined rows of shops; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
“This was taken by Israel. You are apartheid”
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Palestinians are not allowed on this street

Beit Haddassah Museum

Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Front building; Photo credit: By Sebastián – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20086883

Here we were told about the history of the Jews living in Hebron before the 1929 riots.

Brief history: 1800s

1893: first floor constructed, contributions by North African jews

Brief history: 1900s

1911: another storey added, contributions by Indian and Baghdadi jews, Hadassah Organisation opened free clinic for all – jews and arabs

1929: Arabs attacked the building and inhabitants, Hadassah clinic destroyed, British authorities evacuated jews

1931: Jews returned

1936: Arabs attacked again, Jews evacuated by British authorities again, Jewish homes were taken over by Arabs and Arab school was opened at Beit Hadassah

1967: Jews returned

1971: Kiryat Arba settlement established

1979: group of 10 women and 40 children secretly moved from Kiryat Arba to Hebron and stayed in Beit Hadassah, causing Israeli government to put the building under siege until the Yom Kippur war with Egypt, Israeli government subsequently allowed permanent Jewish re-establishment

1980: Arabs attacked Yeshiva students, 6 men killed and many wounded, Israeli government allowed Jews to return to Hebron

Brief history: 2000s

Today: 25 families live in Beit Hadassah and surrounding buildings

Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
View from the top – below are the Palestinian shops, right is the watchtower; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh

There were some Palestinians who looked up at us from below and started shouting angrily. The kind lady who lent me her jacket looked at me and whispered, “Are they shouting at us?” I nodded, “just ignore them”. She nodded quietly and thankfully it was time for us to go.

I was sad that I had to say that.

Tel Rumeida

Tel Rumeida is the oldest site in the city of Hebron. Latest violence occurred here in March 2016.

Checkpoint
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
We were let through after the tour guide talked to these guys; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh

We had to show our passports to a couple of soldiers at the start of our tour but they were friendlier than these guys at Tel Rumeida. Apparently, this is a high tension area.

Excavations
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
The remains found here are said to date back as far back as the Copper Age.; Photo credit: By eman – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1839054
Issues
  • Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin authorized archaeological digs on Jewish lots to preempt the expansion of settlements there
  • excavation 2014: above Admot Yishai and between the Palestinian homes to create archaeological parkland, a settler initiative
  • Archaeologist Yonathan Mizrachi: settler pressure to create an archaeological park is a technique to take over the terrain
  • Dr. Ahmed Rjoub, Palestinian Authority’s director of the Department of Site Management: excavations have removed artifacts attesting to Roman and Islamic heritage

At the observatory

We climbed some flights of very cramped stairs to get to the top. There were groups of teens doing their educational tour as part of their military training.

Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Ironically, I felt peace looking at this amazing view
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Sun managed to shine through the thick clouds

Tomb of Ruth and Jesse

Hebron settlers believe that Jesse, father of King David, and David’s great grandmother, Ruth the Moabite, were buried here. However, this has been disputed.

Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Tomb
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Listening to the tour guide; Photo credit: Katie Kavanagh
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
A very old synagogue, with all abandoned things still in place

End of tour

Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Voices unheard, ignored
Hebron, palestinian, israeli, arabs, jews, international travel, palestine travel, muslim, middle east, 2016, the journey, severe weather, adventure travel, cost analysis, i wander to wonder, cave of the patriarchs, ibrahimi mosque, second holiest site in judaism, bullet proof, hebron massacre, apartheid, tombs, abraham, nabi ibrahim, king david, nabi daud, nabi sulaiman, solomon, israeli settler, occupation, H2, H1, cost breakdown, the journey, weather, people, food, sightseeing, customs, verdict, tips, visit rating, cost
Sunset to mark the end of the tour

The Verdict

Surreal.

The war in the Middle East got me affected a few years ago and I have been following the news since then. I wanted to go on this tour so badly because I wanted to see how people live under oppression and the atrocities subjected upon them.

And I did.

Too many takeaways from this trip alone.

Visit Rating

10/5 stars. Yup!

Should you wander to Hebron? Duh!

Tip

  • It’s scary due to the military presence.
  • It might be a risk for muslims – I’m not sure how the Israeli settlers would react if muslims enter their quarters but I do expect them not to be happy about it. It might be upsetting for them and your presence may seem like a provocation. Even though a lot of us are not Arabs ethnically, by the world’s perspective, muslims seem to be a collective group of people following an Arabic cult and culture.
  • Just be a tourist and remove yourself from any political opinions.

Cost Breakdown

  • Tour price: $105, 12hrs duration including travel time
  • Lunch: $11, not included in the tour price

*All prices are in SGD (estimate).

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16 thoughts on “2 Faces of Hebron: Israeli Palestinian Conflict

  1. Fatima A. (@Blogsbyfa)

    Wow! that was some good information. It would be scary for you, I suppose, at certain places in the area.

    1. Nur

      Yes it was scary for me from the beginning to the end of the tour. I was afraid that I’d be exposed as a muslim. There’s no way to know what’s gonna happen.

  2. Bravo!! Even your photos makes me scared about visiting these places. Also you are lucky enough I would say. These are places every muslim would love to visit. You have portrayed life in the Israeli and Palestinian sides. Brilliant Job!!

    1. Nur

      Thanks Fazeela! too kind 🙂

  3. Wow. I was hanging on to every word while reading. Nervous too. Just watching the rifle on TV itself makes me nervous. So I can imagine.

    I have followed the ME crisis since my teenage years and it has disturbed me always. Good to see a third person travel perspective.

    Love your blog and your writing style. I shall hang around.
    Shahira recently posted…Chemical pregnancy – A poemMy Profile

    1. Nur

      Thank you Shahira! I can’t imagine anyone having to live in that kind of fear on a daily basis. It must be traumatic, to say the least. May Allah protect them and give them a great reward in the hereafter.

  4. Oh wow, good on you for being so brave and for reporting honestly how our poor brothers and sisters in Palestine are forced to live. I dream of visiting Palestine insha’Allah, hopefully one day I will go. What was it like for you entering the country? Did you fly in? I am quite obviously Muslim on my passport photo, which worries me if I was to travel there.

    1. Nur

      Thank you sister! Yes, I flew in. I had a 3hr immigration wait before I was allowed to enter – very thorough questioning but I guess I got off quite lightly because I was there for business trip, so I had some invitation letters by my clients. I extended my trip to go here.

      I wore my hijab for my passport photo as well and I wear hijab the whole time.

      I would suggest you print all your documents for travelling like accommodation, flight and tour bookings – this was what I did, just because I like organisation but at immigration, you will be required to prove your stay.

      Hope this helps 🙂

  5. You are so lucky MashaAllah! to have visited these places. My eyes have gone moist. Allah have mercy on the ummah! Lovely lovely pics, really heart-touching.

    1. Nur

      Masya allah! Aamiin! 🙂

  6. Naz

    Wow what an experience! Thank you for sharing this. Love getting first hand insight.

    1. Nur

      thank you! hope it sheds some light on the plight of our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

  7. Took like 15 mins to read the whole. No word was missed .. You did a brave job!

    Check out my blogs too:
    http://thatgirlglamourouslyglitter.blogspot.com/

    1. Nur

      thank you sister! and thank you for your time 🙂

  8. Rachamim Slonim Dwek

    I enjoyed your post very much but there is a bit you may not be aware of. First, H2 is 18% of Hebron, not 20. By PA Law no Jew may even set foot in H1 and should a Jew somehow enter, it is a death penalty crime to rent, lease or sell even 1 square meter of space or land. Nowhere else on the planet is it illegal- let alone a death penalty crime- to conclude real estate transactions with a particular ethnicity.

    Within H2, Jews are only allowed to live and/or work in just 6 sites that collectively form 3% of the sector. Ergo, 3% of a sector that is itself 18% of Hebron means that by law Jews are confined to 1/10th of 1% of Hebron.

    Moreover, H2 is the comprised only of Hebron’s historic Jewish Quarter. All Jews were Ethnically Cleansed from Hebron in 1929 after Arabs murdered 67 Jews. Therefore, the less than 29,000 Arabs in H2 are ALL living in stolen Jewish properties. Israel allows this and gives those Arabs “Protected Tenamt Status” which permits them to remain thus for 2 generations.

    Lastly, yes, there are 2 legal regimes where Israelis are subject to Israeli Law while the less than 29,000 Arabs are subject to Israeli Military Law. IF Israel applied its legal regine to them it would be a de factp unilateral annexation of the territory. For now Israel still hopes to negotiate with the PA rather than to act unilaterally (as the PA has been doing for years).

    There is plenty more but I dont want to take up too much space.

  9. Rachamim Slonim Dwek

    I have to add, Israeli ownership documents do not allow Jews to kick Arabs out and in fact it is the opposite. 4 of the 6 sites where Jews may luve and/or work in H2 were Jewish owned facilities like Beit Hadassah, an indigent hospitap before the 1929 Ethnic Cleabsing, Beit Romano was a Jewish home that the British requisitioned and used as police headquarters, Avraham Avinu was a synagogue and religious school. Beit Shalom was a private propertt owned by my own family and to gain control of it we had to pay 1.4 million US to the Arabs who stole it AND fight in Israeli courts to have it recognised so you really have been told falsehoods. Beit HaMachpelah is 2 floors in a 3 floor tenement. This was a Jewish owned property. To gain control Jews again paid three times the markey value and fought in Israeli courts. Shavei Chevron was a religious school before 1929 so all you heard was basically propaganda.

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