Tomb of the Patriarchs - a Muslim mosque in every sense - has been turned into a Jewish synagogue
Photo: GPO
Explosive and malignant
Hebron is like an ongoing operation where surgeons are helpless

The evacuation of the Hebron marketplace early this week, during which dozens of settlers and policemen were injured, is not the final word on the matter. In a few days, weeks or months, the settlers will once again storm the area claiming that the market is "Jewish property that was plundered," and the army - the legal sovereign in the area - will once again be forced to evict them.


Since the first days of settlement in Hebron, during Passover 1968, they have always resorted to fraudulent acts after which they proceeded
to roll their eyes to the heavens.


Rabbi Moshe Levinger's flock, who came to the Park Hotel in Hebron, only sought a permit to reside there for seven days in order to celebrate the Passover holiday. Their sojourn was prolonged because then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was injured in an archaeological dig, and there was no one to decide whether to evict them.


Despite several cabinet ministers assisting the settlers, some overtly and others covertly, the government opposed their remaining there and even planned to evict them.


A system was born

The settlers organized and exerted massive public pressure on the government, which folded after a while and transferred them to the military administration building in Hebron. A system was born: Namely, creating facts on the ground, exerting public pressure by settler supporters – the Right and the religious sectors – and the government's ultimate submission. Every government.


At the beginning of the ‘70s they were transferred from the administration building in Hebron to a new site that was assigned to them outside of Hebron – Kiryat Arba. The lands once known as the "The Hills of Jabra" were expropriated "on security grounds." And indeed, at first a Border Guard building was constructed there, but adjacent to it to the east, Kiryat Arba was established where some 6,000 people currently reside.


The massacre of 1929, which saw 67 Jews murdered and ended Jewish life in Hebron, constituted the catalyst to the return to the city. The Beit Hadassah murder in May 1980 where six Jews were killed on their way home from prayers granted the government the legitimacy to approve settlement of Jews inside the city, after a year earlier dozens of women and children illegally stormed Beit Hadassah.


Another massacre actually occurred without government intervention: Settler doctor Baruch Goldstein shot down dozens of Muslim worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs during the Purim festival in February 1994. In response, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin considered evacuating all of Hebron's residents, but backtracked at the last minute.


Goldstein's grave, located prominently adjacent to Kiryat Arba's eastern exit, serves until this day as a place of pilgrimage for the murderer's followers.


Malignant site

Thus, more than 160,000 Palestinians live in divided Hebron (with an additional 100,000 Palestinians in greater Hebron,) alongside several hundred Jewish settlers who over the years have taken over markets, houses and shops based on the argument of "return of Jewish expropriated property."


Following ongoing pressure by the settlers, the Tomb of the Patriarchs - a Muslim mosque in every sense - has been turned into a Jewish synagogue and into a sure source of tension, both in the past and in the present. Abraham's burial place, the father of Yitzhak and Ishmael, has become – with the active help of the Jewish settlers and Palestinian terrorists – one of the most malignant sites in the Holy Land.


Despite it being divided into the Jewish H1 zone and the Palestinian H2 zone, despite the IDF ostensibly being in control there, despite there being an international observation force in place, Hebron is still the most explosive area in the territories.


Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai once compared Jerusalem to an operation that has remained open while the surgeons went to sleep in a far off place. In Hebron it's an ongoing surgery, where the surgeons are helpless and are wringing their hands in desperation.


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