The Religious Significance of Hebron, Palestine: Hebron is unlike any other city in Palestine for many reasons. Historically, Hebron is one of the oldest cities in the world. Due to the city’s close historical connection with Abraham, Hebron is intimately and importantly entwined with the religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank and it is only surpassed by Gaza as the biggest city in the Palestinian Territories at large. Thirty kilometers south of Jerusalem, Hebron in the only city in the West Bank that must deal with an illegal Jewish settlement at its core. Most illegal Jewish settlements are along the outskirts of cities but at the heart of the city of Hebron, in the old city, eight-hundred and fifty settlers have stationed themselves. The city is also split between Israeli control and the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is unlike any other situation in the West Bank.
Today we at the Excellence Center will take some to explain the historical and religious significance of Hebron to help you understand why our situation is unlike any other in all of Palestine. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has recently named the old city of Hebron as a World Heritage Site. Both Muslims and Jews agree that Abraham (of the Bible)/Ibrahim (of the Koran) is buried upon an ancient shrine in the old city of Hebron. In Judaism the holy site is called “The Cave of the Patriarchs” and in Islam, “the Ibrahimi Mosque.” The site is split so that both Muslims and Jews can come and pay their religious respects and prayers, however everyone (Palestinians and Israelis) must pass through an Israeli checkpoint with metal detectors and identification check in order to be allowed to enter the holy site and pray.
The Ibrahimi mosque is one of the oldest still standing sites of prayer in the world. King Herod commenced the construction of the initial shrine two-thousand years ago. As is the case with most ancient sites in this area of the world, with different conquers the site changed religious hands, shapes and purposes. The Byzantine Christians converted the place into a basilica and once the Muslims came to power the structure was shifted into that of a mosque.
In addition to the connection with Abraham/Ibrahim it is also believed that Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah who hold positions of patriarchs and matriarchs of both religions and who are revered by both Judaism and Islam, are buried there. Hebron is the most conservative city in Palestine, people’s lives and daily practices are deeply rooted in Islam.
Though it is often termed “the most tense city in Palestine” or “the most troubled city in Palestine”, Hebron and its occupants still flourish and outside the old city a modern and bustling city has grown. You can fins whatever modern amenities, clothes and objects you may desire whilst simultaneously discovering the deep history and artwork from our world renowned artisans (such as glass, ceramics and leather work.) Though our city is one of the most closely tied cities to Islam, it is precisely for this reason that you will experience such hospitality and warmth from our citizens.