Jews in the ancient Biblical city of Hebron, the second holiest city in Judaism and the city where King David was anointed king, got great news on Friday: Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman made an upgrade that gave them separate powers from the Palestinian Municipality that governs Hebron. Roughly 1,000 Jews live in Hebron, the site of the Cave of Machpelah where the ancient ancestors of the Jewish people, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah are buried. The Bible states in Genesis that Abraham (Abram) “dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron” where “he built an altar to the Lord.”
Hebron was the site of the 1929 massacre, in which Arabs slaughtered 67 Jews while the British looked the other way. As Bernard Wasserstein quoted in The British in Palestine: The Mandatory Government and the Arab-Jewish Conflict 1917-1929, one survivor reported, “On hearing screams in a room I went up a sort of tunnel passage and saw an Arab in the act of cutting off a child’s head with a sword.” In May 1980, six yeshiva students were killed and 20 wounded by Palestinian terrorists as they returned from prayers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron; in 1983, another yeshiva student was gunned down in the center of Hebron.
As recently as the end of June, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on Israeli troops as they attempted to uncover an arms cache in Hebron. He was shot and killed. In August, Israeli troops arrested a Palestinian couple in Hebron who had hidden over 200 rounds of ammunition in their children’s bedrooms.
Tayseer Abu Sneineh was elected mayor of Hebron in 2017; he was one of four Palestinian terrorists who on May 2, 1980 attacked a group of Israelis and Jews in a Hebron alley with grenades, killing U.S. citizens Tzvi Glatt and Eli HaZe’ev, Canadian Shmuel Marmelstein and Israelis Hanan Krauthammer, Gershon Klein and Ya’akov Zimmerman. Another 20 people were injured.
In 1997 the city was officially split between the Arabs and the Jews; 220,000 Palestinians now live there, with barbed wire that surrounds Jewish buildings and the 12 IDF checkpoints.
The new upgrade allows the Jews to independently seek services from the Civil Administration. Deputy Defense Minister Eli Dahan (Bayit Yehudi) said, “For years, Hebron’s Jewish residents lived without a municipal authority to take care of all the services required for normative civilian life.” He added, “After the election of a murderer for mayor of Hebron, the idea that they will receive these services from the municipality has become even more absurd. This is another important step in normalizing the lives of the Jews in Hebron in particular and in all of Judea and Samaria in general.”