If you are in Palestine this summer, make sure you visit the ancient city of Hebron! Earlier in July, Hebron was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This decision was voted on with 12 members on the 21-member World Heritage committee in favor, 3 against, and 6 abstentions.
Hebron, or as known in Arabic, al-Khalil al-Rahman meaning “the friend of God” is about thirty kilometers away from Jerusalem and is famous for its abundant grape vines. The city is an important site to Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. To Muslims, Hebron is the fourth holiest site after Makkah, Madina, and Jerusalem. In the Old City of Hebron, you can find al-Haram al-Ibrahimi (Ibrahimi Mosque) or the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where the tombs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as their wives, exist.
Other sites to see in Hebron are the Oak of Ibrahim, Haram al-Rama, the souq, or “market”, and the glass and ceramic factories.
It is important to note that Hebron is also on UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger list because of the political situation in the area and the threat of vandalism and damage to property by the Israeli occupation. Being on the World Heritage list entails UNESCO to evaluate the situation in the city on a yearly basis and to allocate funding for the protection of the site. Hebron is the third Palestinian site to be named on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and the “in Danger” list, after the Birthplace of Jesus (Church of Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem) and Battir.
If you ever find yourself in Palestine, make sure to include Hebron on your list of places to explore!