Giulia Amati & Stephen Natanson (Italy 2010, 72 min.)

Giulia Amati & Stephen Natanson (Italy 2010, 72 min.)

Hebron is the largest city in the middle of the occupied West Bank, 30 kilometers south of Jerusalem. It was famous throughout the Middle East as a market place where the caravans would stop between Damascus and Egypt. Hebron is also famous as a holy city, a place of pilgrimage for the Jews, Christians and Muslims because Abraham, the forefather of the three most important monotheistic religions, is buried there.

In 1967, after the Six-Day War and Israel’s dramatic military victory, 30 Israelis decided to settle in the city to reclaim what they considered an important part of the Promised Land. It was one of the first Israeli settlements and the only one right in the heart of a Palestinian city. Hebron is now home to 160,000 Palestinians, a colony of 600 Israeli settlers who live in the city center and a garrison of more than 2,000 Israeli soldiers to defend them.

On April 4th 1968 Rabbi Moshe Levinger led a group of Jews pretending to be Swiss tourists into the Arab Park Hotel in the old city of Hebron. Two days later they seized control of the Hotel saying they have come to reestablish Hebron’s historic Jewish community. In 1970 the government agreed to allow Rabbi Levinger’s group to establish a town on the outskirts of the city in an abandoned military base at Kiryat Arba. In 1979, Levinger’s wife Miriam led 40 Jewish women and children from Kiryat Arba back into the old city to take over the former Hadassah Hospital which became the first Jewish settlement in downtown Hebron. Today in Hebron there are four Israeli settlements consisting of small clusters of buildings housing 86 families.

In 1994 Baruck Goldstein, an immigrant settler from Brooklyn shot dead 29 Palestinians praying at dawn in the Ibrahimi Mosque, in the heart of the old city of Hebron. Fearing Palestinian retaliation, the Israeli army employed a policy to protect the settlers based on the “principle of separation.” Areas around the settlements were “sterilized”, meaning they were completely off limits to Palestinians. Al Shuhada Street and the Vegetable Market, formerly the main commercial centre of Hebron were shut down and hundreds of Palestinian shopkeepers evicted. What was a temporary measure to avoid conflict became a permanent one. Once a bustling hub of activity, the city center now resembles a ghost town.

It’s a war between neighbors where the main goal is to conquer one more meter of the city, keep the enemy at bay or simply stand one’s ground. Kicking, cursing, spitting, stone throwing and abuse are part of the daily routine. Children, women and the army participate in this daily struggle.

Today Hebron is a city of violence and hate.

Giulia Amati & Stephen Natanson

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Available from: (Italian subtitles)
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