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> Hebron: Rehabilitation and Reuse of Residential...
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> The Politics and Poetics of Place: The Baramki House
> Architecture in Ramallah
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> Memoirs Engraved in Stone: Palestinian architecture
> Villa Salameh
> The Jabber neighbourhood in the old city of Hebron
> Outside kitchen
> Wood used in building
> Doorways: Arched and straight
> Modern way of building houses
> Storeys for the next generation
> Sultan Suleiman and Jerusalem’s Old City Walls
> Protecting Historic Town and Village Centres
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The Jabber neighbourhood in the old city of Hebron
submitted by This Week In Palestine

Palestinian Cultural Heritage at Risk

The city of Hebron lies approximately 900m above see level and is 30 km south of Jerusalem, on a mountainous area. With a population of more than 120,000 inhabitants, it is considered one of the largest Palestinian cities and is a very important commercial centre for the southern parts of the West Bank. The historic city of Hebron is one of the most attractive places in the area, especially with its dominant building, the Ibrahimi Mosque, where the Prophet Abraham is believed to have been buried around the year 2000 BC.

The historic city of Hebron is considered of great architectural and cultural value. Its historic old town, with its medieval buildings and urban fabrics, its residential houses, neighbourhoods, plazas, mosques, commercial alley and shops, gives it its distinctive characteristic. Some of the buildings are from the Mamluk period (15th century), while the majority are from the Ottoman period (sixteenth to nineteenth centuries).

On November 29, 2002, the Israeli army issued military order number T/61/02 for the purpose of constructing a settlers' road that connects the settlement of Kiryat Arba to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. The decision included an order to confiscate large areas of land as well as the demolition of a large number of both recent and historic buildings that are situated in the Jabber neighbourhood that is directly adjacent to the Mosque. Many of the buildings slated for demolition date from periods ranging from the Mamluk to the Ottoman. Because of the inter-connected structure of historic vernacular architecture, the deconstruction will go far beyond the targeted buildings and will affect all those buildings connected to and surrounding them. Hundreds of residents are facing the loss of their homes and property as a result of this order.

The Jabber neighbourhood is considered an important historical site because it is situated near the Ibrahimi Mosque and forms the southern entry to the historic city of Hebron. It is an intrinsic part of the historic environment surrounding the Mosque. Destroying a surrounding neighbourhood ultimately undermines the importance of the Mosque itself, since the Mosque and the city have evolved over generations as one interwoven architectural and historical unit.

Since 1996, the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) has worked on rehabilitating the historic buildings and infrastructure of Hebron despite constant obstacles placed by the Israeli authorities as well as the attacks and provocations of settlers. The HRC has succeeded in renovating more than 300 residential units, providing homes as well as related social, economic, and infrastructural services. The HRC's professionalism and vision were recognized by the Aga Khan through an award it got in 1998 for its architectural work. The Committee also rehabilitated market areas and shops in the Old City based on a carefully developed master plan that also included plans to renovate the Jabber neighbourhood. However, the Israeli authorities have consistently denied the Committee the right to renovate the neighbourhood save for one building, Hosh Da?na, which is now slated for demolition.
The Israeli decision that includes the confiscation and destruction of buildings and lands constitutes a major violation of international laws and conventions that guarantee the protection of cultural property during the times of war and conflicts such as the Venice Charter, and all UNESCO and ICOMOS conventions. In addition, these actions are a violation of the 1945 Hague conventions. Israel, as the occupying power, is responsible for the protection of civilian life and infrastructure under its control.

Centre for Architectural Conservation

This Week in Palestine
January 2003

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