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Hebron: The Jewish People’s Deepest Roots (Part II)

Part I

E. Initial Restoration Attempts – 1931

Following the riots and deportations, the reinnants of the Jewish community
strove unceasingly to restore Jews to the city of their forefathers. One
leading figure in these efforts, despite his own horrendous personal tragedy,
was the aged Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Slonim, Chief Rabbi of Hebron, whose
family was murdered in the riots. Many people shared his aspirations.
Zionist leader Menahem Ussishkin wrote: “If the Jews do not return and
resettle Hebron, it will become another Shechem and the Arabs will rejoice
in their victory, celebrating their success in driving out the Jews by murder,
robbery and theft. Hebron will become a purely Arab city, as they desire.
This would be a fatal error on our part that will wreak maximum vengeance
upon us, as in days to come, other Arabs will learn from those of Hebron,
realizing that such attacks can annihilate Jewish settlements and banish
Jews forever … It is inconceivable for the Jewish People to remain silent
and agree to our removal from Hebron.

The need to return Jews to Hebron was understood by all who pursue
justice and ethics, even non-Jews. Two Zionist Executive leaders, Arthur
Ruppin and Rabbi Meir Berlin, visited Hebron after the riots and spoke
with one of the British officials. To their question of whether the Jews
ought to return to Hebron, the official responded that from his own point
of view, of course, it would be more convenient were the Jews not to return
to their homes, as peace and quiet would then prevail. However, he added,
if he were a Jew, he would not abandon the city but would regroup and
return, as it is a matter of honor for the Jewish nation.

After overcoming numerous obstacles, a group of families returned to
Hebron in the spring of 1931. Heading this group of about 200 people was
Rabbi Heiena Begaio, along with Avrahum Franco and Y Hasson. They
remained in Hebron for about four years, exerting mighty efforts in the
community’s development and consolidation amid hostile surroundings.
But in April 1936, when new riots broke out, the British deported all the
Jews. In the middle of the night, they were again loaded on trucks and
ordered out of the city. Once again, terror triumphed, with the assistance
of the ruling authorities, the British Mandatory Government, and the small
and peace-loving Jewish community of Hebron was vanquished.

F. The Jordanian Conquest: Destruction of the
Jewish Quarter

In 1948, the Jordanians conquered Judea and Samaria, including Hebron.
The Jordanian authorities completed the annihilation of the Jewish
community by physically destroying all remnants of Jewish life. The ancient
Jewish Quarter was razed and a wholesale produce market, public toilets,
trash collection center and municipal slaughterhouse were built on the site.
The old Avrahant Avinu Synagogue was torn down and a sheep, goat and
donkey pen was put up atop its ruins. Other Jewish homes were used as
storerooms and livestock barns. Larger Jewish buildings, such as Beit
Hudassah and Beit Romano, were used as schools by the Jordanian
conquerors. The ancient Jewish cemetery, including its monuments to the
martyrs of 1929, was totally destroyed. A vegetable garden and private
home occupied the soil above the graves. Jewish tombstones were used as
bricks to build fences and houses in the area.

G. Liberation and Restoration: The
Establishment of Kiryat Arba

Hebron remained bereft of Jews for about 20 years. In
1967, after Jordan launched an attack on the State of
Israel, several parts of the Land of Israel, the historic
Jewish homeland, were liberatcd. The Arabs of Hebron
feared revenge for the riots of 1929 and surrendered
without firing a shot. The IDF Chief Chaplain, the late
General Shlonro Goren, was the first to enter Hebron
in a long vehicle, where he proceeded to the Cave of
Machpelah and received the articles of surrender of
the city of Hebron. This was the opportune time for
Hebron’s children to return to their rightful boundaries
forever. When the Government proved hesitant in its
decision-making, a group of families organized to
resettle Hebron, including, founder and leader Rabbi
Moshe Levinget, then Rabbi of Moshav Nehalim. The
group rented the Park Hotel from its Arab owner and
arrived in Hebron for Passover in 1968. These
settlement efforts aroused much interest and support and the settlers were
visited by such outstanding personalities as the late Cabinet Minister Yigal
Allon, who supported and helped considerably, the late Rachel Yanait Benzvi and representatives of the Land of Israel Movement, whose members
included Natan Alterman, S.Y. Agnon and others. After the settlers had
spent a few weeks at the hotel, the Government moved them to the Military
Government Headquarters in Hebron. Here, despite adverse conditions
and severe pressure, the group consolidated and grew. Various enterprises
were established, as well as a yeshiva. More families joined them and a
new generation was born. About three years later, the Government decided
to build a Jewish neighborhood near Hebron, Kiryat Arba. First settled in
1971, Kiryat Arba grew rapidly and became the first major Jewish locality
in Judea and Samaria. From Kiryat Arba, the settlement movement extended
to other parts of the Land of Israel. It was here that the Elon Moreh group
first took shape, the pioneer Gush Emunim group that sparked the inception
of Jewish settlement in Samaria. By 1996, Kifyat Arba had a varied
population of about 7,000 persons: religious and non-religious, veteran
Israelis and new immigrants from many countries. The town has a small
industrial zone. a shopping center and a wide variety of schools and public
and community services.

H. Restoration of the Jewish Community of Hebron
- Initial Attempts

Restoration efforts at the razed Jewish sites in Hebron constitute a
fascinating chapter in the city’s history, suffused with determination and
dedication. Even after the establishment of Kiryat Arba, the Jews aspired
to return to Hebron and restore Jewish settlement. They realized that they
could not overlook the horrendous results of the 1929 riots, nor accord
victory to terrorism by perpetuating the resulting situation. Jews lived in
Hebron for thousands of years and were driven from the city by brutal
rioting. Now that Hebron is in our hands once more, it is inconceivable
that we not be allowed to exercise our rights and rebuild the Jewish
community, they claimed. Among the first to pave the way for the return
of Jews to Hebron was an immigrant from Russia, a victim of the repressive
Soviet regime, the late Prof. Ben-Zion Tavger, a well known physicist who could have developed a brilliant
scientific career but instead chose to devote his life to
the redemption of Hebron. In 1975, Prof. Tavger began
clearing the rubble and filth from the sheep pen on the
site of the Avraham Avian Synagogue. Although
arrested several times, he persisted. In 1976, following
an arduous and extended struggle, the Government
allowed the remnants of the destroyed synagogue to
be uncovered, but still did not permit Jews to pray at
the site or rebuild the structure. The area was declared
a closed military zone and all settlement attempts
ended in confrontation and evacuation.

I. Settlement at Beit Hadassah

Beit Hadassah represents a decisive stage in renewing Jewish settlement
in Hebron. The hospital building had been abandoned since 1967 and all
attempts at settling there had ended in failure. Then, one night in the spring
of 1979, a group of ten women and 40 children succeeded in entering the
building from a back alley under cover of darkness. The Government
decided to impose a closure on the building to prevent the influx of supplies
and additional people, including the women’s husbands. The women and
their children lived in the beleaguered and partially demolished building
for about a year, under very haish conditions, without water and electricity,
cut off from their families, struggling for their principles and aspiring
towards fulfillment of their challenging but apparently attainable objective:
Jewish settlement of Hebron.

The goal was only achieved in the wake of a tragic
slaughter that took place one Friday night in May 1980.
A group of yeshiva students on its way to Beit
Hadassah for the customary Kiddush and Shabbat
hymns, was attacked by terrorists who were waiting
in ambush on the roof of a near by shop. Six Jews were
shot and killed in this horrendous incident. It was only
after the murders occurred that the Government finally
decided to allow restoration of the Jewish Community
of Hebron.

The Government decision enabled the Jews to build,
renovate and restore some of the Jewish property in
Hebron and to reside in the City of the Patriarchs once
more.

J. Renewal of the Jewish Community -
Roots and Restoration

Renovation, restoration and reconstruction work at Jewish sites created
four principal blocs of Jewish settlement in Hebron:

The Jewish Quarter

The ancient Jewish Quarter was
reconstructed and the restored Avraham
Avion Synagogue is now an exquisite
architectural masterpiece. The new
homes constructed around the synagogue
conform with the historic style of days
gone by. Another new building is Betar
House, providing a variety of educational
activities, accommodations and
headquarters for the moventent’s Nahal
(Pioneering IDF) groups. The Jewish
Quarter also houses the offices of the
Jewish Community, the Municipal
Council and the Association for the
Renewal of the Jewish Community of Hebron. Nearby is a vast expanse of
destroyed Jewish homes slated for future reconstruction. As of 1996, there
were about 20 families living in the Jewish Quarter. The wholesale produce
market, built on the ruins of the old Jewish Quarter, adjacent to the restored
section, was officially closed in 1993 because it posed a security risk. So
far, however no action has been taken to find a suitable alternative location.

Beit Romano and the
Central Bits Station

Beit Romano was adapted
to provide accommodations
and classrooms for Yeshivat
Shavei Hevron, with a
Student body of over 200.
The adjoining plot of land,
that belongs to Habad, was
used as a bus station during
the Jordanian conquest.
Once Jewish settlement was
restored, it became a base
for terrorist attacks. The
station was moved to
another location and the site
serves as an IDF base.

Beit Hadassah Complex

Beit Hadassah was renovated
and rebuilt, maintaining its
original elements and style. The
upper floors set up as residences
and the basement houses a
Hebron Heritage Historical
Archives, the Midreshet Hebron
public relations and tourist
center, a memorial room to the
victims of the 1929 massacre,
library and other facilities.

The houses adjoining Beit
Hadassall – Beit Hasson and
Beft Castel – are named for their
original Jewish owners who
were slaughtred in 1929. Beit

Schneerson – the Habad Hasidic center – was also rebuilt and renovated for
residential purposes. About 20 families now live in these buildings. In
addition a daycare center was opened on the ground floor.

Admot Yishai (Tel Runzeida)

Most of the land on which the tel is situated was purchased by the Jewish
Community of Hebron about 180 years ago. For generations, the Jews
were deprived of most of their land, with only a few plots remaining in
Jewish hands. In 1984, several families settled in temporary structures on
one of these plots, with Government approval. Settlement on the remaining
Jewish land, although vacant and approved for status assessment, is still
being delayed for political reasons. Seven families now live at this site.

To the west of the tel is the ancient Jewish cemetery, where Jews have
been buried for many generations, including outstanding rabbis and
kabbalists whose graves are the focus of traditional pilgrimages. Jewish
burial in the cemetery was prohibited by the Israel Government until the
death of Avraham Yedidiya Nahshon, an infant who died in Kiryat Arba in
1975. His mother, Sarah, took the baby’s body in her own hands, walking
past the roadblocks until she reached the cemetery and laid her son to
eternal rest. In another section of this cemetery, the victims of the 1929
massacre are buried. The cemetery was destroyed by the Arabs after the
Jordanian conquest and
rehabilitated only after
extensive efforts. In 1976, the
remnants of Torah scrolls torn
and desecrated by Arabs at the
Cave of Machpelah were
buried in the Hebron cemetery.
The site is marked by a
monument resembling a Torah
scroll. Recently, Arabs
desecrated the cemetery
several times. In 1993 and
1994, several Kiryat Arba Hebron terror victims were
buried there, including
Mordechai Lapid and his son
Shalom, Igor Gorgol, Ratael
Yairi, Sarit Prigal, Nachum
I-loss and Yehuda Partush.

To the southeast of the tel are tall and impressive ancient walls from the
Era of the Patriarchs, uncovered in archaeological expeditions during tile
1960s. Other excavations at the tel uncovered various findings from the
Canaanite Era and parts of the city from the First and Second Temple
periods. On the eastern slope is Abraham’s Spring (Ein Jedida), a source
of water for the ancient city. At the tel’s peak is an ancient fortress that
offers a beautiful view of the Hebron Valley and the entire city. Jewish
tradition declares this site to be the burial place of Jesse and Ruth, forbears
of the House of David.

K. Years of Challenge

The years 1994 to 1996 brought Hebron into the focus of our struggle for
the Land of Israel. The Hebron settlers face a challenge of faith and devotion.
All the Jewish People Must withstand the test of loyalty to our ancestors
and insistence of our rights to the City 0f Our Forefathers and Jewish
settlement therein.

In September 1993 the Oslo Agreements were signed, according the PLO
terrorist organization full atonomy throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
The first stage of these Agreements was applied to Gaza and Jericho, where
a Palestinian Police was set up, comprising terrorists who arrived from
various countries. The Agreements also stipulated that the Israel Defense
Forces must withdraw from urban centers and that a Palestinian Self
Administration be set up, governing all aspects of life excepting security
of Israelis living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. As Land of Israel loyalists
warned, acts of terror broke out and serious attacks were perpetrated in the
wake of the Agreements.

There were numerous attacks, in the Hebron region, and several Jews were
killed. In October 1993, Ephraim Ayoubi was killed while on his way to
Kiryat Arba. Rabbi Haim Druckman, a passenger in Ayoubi’s car, was
wounded by terrorist gunfire.

On November 15 of that year, Hebron resident Avraharn Zarbiv was attacked
by three axe-wielding terrorists while on his way to the Cave of Machpelah.
Seriously injured, his survival was termed a miracle.

The attacks continued using all means: knives, explosives and firearms.
On December 7, 1993, Mordechai and Shalom Lapid, a father and son,
were murdered at a road junction near the entrance to Kiryat Arba.

One week before Purim in 1994, Hamas Circulated handbills throuhout
the Hebron area, stating that a major terrorist attack was about to take
place. Arab residents were ordered to prepare provisions for an extended
curfew. Emergency crews in Kiryat Arba and other Jewish settlements in
the region were similarly instructed to prepare for a mass attack. On the
Eve of Purim, as the megillah was read at the Cave of Machpelah, hundreds
of Arabs stood by shouting “Allah is gpeat! Slaughter the Jews!” These
savage slogans, well known from the riots of 1929, aroused chills and
trepidation among all who heard them. The next day, Purim, Dr. Baruch
Goldstein, a physician from Kiryat Arba who had treated dozens of terror
victims and fatalities, entered the Cave of Machpelah and opened fire,
killing 29 Arabs who were there at the time. The authorities ordered the
building closed and imposed tin extended curfew on Hebron. Following
this serious incident, rumors circulated that evacuation of Jewish settlement
sites in Hebron was about to take place and the residents were to be evicted.

On Passover of that year, a mass rally was held in support of Jewish
settlement in Hebron, with the participation of tens of thousands of Jews.
The rally, originally due to take place in Hebron, was held in Kiryat Arba
after the IDF refused to grant the necessary permit. Leaders of national
movements and political parties declared they would object strenuously to
any attempt at removing Jews from Hebron, Great rabbinic scholars
determined that it was far bidden to obey any order that entailed evacuation
of Jews from their land and their homes. Throughout Israel, “Hebron, past,
present and forever” stickers were distributed, expressing loyalty to the
Jewish Community of Hebron-Extensive and firm public opposition to
mass evacuation of Jews because of one person’s misdeed helped to
postpone plans for the moment, but a threat still loomed over continued
Jewish presence in Hebron. Fulfillment of the Oslo Agreements and transfer
of all parts of the liberated Land of Israel to alien terrorists and invaders is
liable to place the lives of tens of thousands of Jews at risk, especially in
Hebron, where over 500 Jews live fit the heart of an area populated by
hostile Arabs, many of whom identify with the murderers of 1929 and are
still plotting to destroy the Jewish People.

The Campaign to Reopen the Cave of Machpelah

In 1994, a public campaign was launched to reopen the Cave of Machpolah
for prayers. The site was closed since Purim 1994 and no one was allowed
to approach except for representatives of the Muslim Waqf. The Jews,
barred even from the site of the seventh step, held prayer services in the
open air, outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs, throughout the closure period.
Outdoor Sabbith services were conducted weekly, morning and evening,
including Seuda Shlishit, the
traditional third Sabbath meal,
previously served inside the building.
Even on Festivals and the High
Holidays, the Jews were not allowed
inside the Cave of Machpelah
building, so that Rosh Hashana and
Yom Kippur services were held
outside as well. In the summer and
fall of 1994, thousands of Jews came
to Hebron to express their loyalty to
the Patriarchs and Matriarchs and
their identification with the Cave of
Machpelah, attending mass prayer
rallies on Rosh Hodesh Elul, First
Selihot night and the Fast of Gedalia. A major public assembly held during
Hol Hamoed Sukkot of that year attracted tens of thousands of Jews to the
entrance of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, despite the numerous restrictions
imposed.

Aftet Purim 1994, a Commission of Inquiry was set up to study the incidents
at the Cave of Machpelah, headed by Justice Meir Sharrigir. This
Commision noted the number of attacks and tragedies affecting the Jews
of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, especially over the preceding year. These,
however, had no moderating effect on their condemnation of Dr. Goldstein’s
actions. The Sharrigar Commission determined that Jewish and Muslim
services at the Cave of Machpelah should take place at different times.
The Government acted otherwise, however, imposing strict and permanent
physical separation of Jews and Muslims within the building, an approach
that the Commission had rejected outright. The Government decision
imparted a majority of the area of the building to the Moslems, and denied
the Jews the right to visit and pray at in the Hall of Isaac, the largest and
most significant room in the Cave of Machpelah building. Furthermore,
the premises were closed at night, precluding any possibility of nighttime
Jewish services, including such special prayers as Tikun Hatzot, Selihot,
etc. The munbet of Jews allowed
inside at any one time was strictly
limited, forcing many to pray outside
the building, even on Shabbat and
Holidays. These decisions, that
seriously detract from Jewish rights
to our ancestrat legacy, have aroused
serious opposition. The public
struggle is expected tocominue until
the rights of the Jewish People at the
Tomb of the Patriarchs are duly
restored.

L. The Campaign to Save Hebron

In the political process, that most Jews believe to bode ill, the Jewish
Community of Hebron stands on the front lines. Besides constituting air
unthinkable abandonment of the Jewish homeland, IDF withdrawal from
urban centers in Judea aid Samaria is liable to have severe consequences
in Hebron. All Jews loyal to their nation and land, who represent a majority
of the Jewish People, must stand up and be counted to halt these ominous
developments.

In 1995, when the Oslo B Agreements were signed in Taba just before
Rosh Hashana, the fate of Hebron appeared to have been sealed. The IDF
was to withdraw from 85% of the area, essentially forsaking national
,security and the lives of local Jews, as well as the safety of the hundreds of
thousands of Jews who visit the Cave of Machpelah and other holy sites.
At the time, all out protests and warnings were nothing but a lone voice in
the wilderness. The Israeli authorities signed the Agreement hastily and
irresponsibly, ignoring senior military officers who warned of its
consequences. The mad clash to sign the document, together with Arafat,
before the holidays led to a series of ominous decisions. The Bethlehem
bypass road is only one example: Paved in haste to enable Arafat to make
his triumphal entry into Bethlehem on Chrisimas, it was constantly plagued
by collapse, rockslides and other dangers.

The withdrawal (“redeployment”) map of Hebron, too was fraught with
grave errors, such as relinquishing high ground and abandoning the Jewish
cemetery and other holy sites (the Tomb of Othniel, Abraham’s Oak, etc.).
The Jewish community of Hebron was left as a narrow enclave surrounded
by hills and completely under the control of territory to be handed over to
terrorists. These issues were brought before top political leaders, but to no
avail.

The Palestinian Authority elections on January 20, 1996 exposed the true
situation of Hebron: only 20% of eligible Arabs voted; the remainder
boycotted the elections, mostly because of identification with Hamas. This
development too apparently had no effect on security decisions. Just before
the elections, IDF evacuation of large sections ofthe Hebron region, except
for areas populated by Jews, was equally foreboding. Once the elections
were over, vast sectors of the city were left with little military presence.
Armed terrorists spread out all over Hebron, firing nightly barrages.
Warnings were referred to the relevant Authorities and subsequently even
to the media. Absurdly, while hundreds of terrorists fired incessantly and
freely throughout Hebron, undeterred even by cameras, the Israeli security
forces raided the home of a Kiryat Arba resident late one night and arrested
him in front of his entire family on suspicion of “thinking about shooting
at Arab houses.” Obviously, this was a false arrest and he was released the
next morning.

The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1996
was exploited by the left for incitement against the entire fighting and
religious public. The evacuation of cities in Judea and Samaria – Jenin,
Shechem, Tulkarm, Rethlehem, Ramallah and Kalkiliya – proceeded swiftly
and smoothly. The PLO entered cities in the Land of Israel as the victor.
Israeli flag’s were burned and desecrated. The situation was obviously
headed for a major explosion, but no warning light could open the
Government’s eyes. The approaching date for evacuation of Hebron was
like a warning sign at the brink of a dangerous abyss.

The awakening was bitter and painful. A series of attacks in March 1996
rocked the entire Country. From then on, people realized that vigorous,
determined action was essential to stop the withdrawal from Hebron, The
watchword at the time was “Don’t give Hamas a prize.” As most Arab
residents of Hebron identify with Hamas, IDF withdrawal and departure
from the city would effectively mean abandoning it to the terrorists.

Notices to this effect were printed in newspapers such as Yediot Aharonot
and Haaretz with the signatures of dozens of professors and rabbis from
all over Israel. A map was drawn up detailing the withdrawal plan and
exposing the perils it portended. Those who examined the map were horror stricken.

At the same time, delegations of Knesset Members and senior IDF officers
visited Hebron and assessed the security risks. Representatives of Hebron
and public officials discussed the matter with great rabbinic scholars,
Hasidic leaders and representatives of all
religious factions, who appealed to the Prime
Minister to postpone withdrawal from Hebron
until after the elections. A series of mass events
was held in Hebron, attracting tens of thousands
of Jews who expressed their identification with
these demands and stood proudly in support of
Hebron. Major public figures joined the
campaign, including prominent philanthropist
Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Gumick of Austialia,
emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe for the
integrity of the Holy Land. His generous assistance was essential to the
extensive range of rescue work. Through his generosity, the Gutnick Center
was established in Hebron visitors and hospitality center that serves as
the focus of Jewish life and activity at the closest spot to the Cave of
Machpelah, dedicated in it public ceremony during the Intermediate Days
of Passover, 1996. Rabbi Gutnick’s devoted activity on behalf of Hebron
was a key factor enabling the Jewish Community to persevere during the
most difficult hours.

The mass rally held during the Intermediate Days of Passover was a turning
point. Tens of thousands of people poured into Hebron, filling the halls
and entrance plaza of the Cave of Machpelal, touring the Jewish sites in
Hebron and bearing a message that was powerfully received by its target
audience. According to IDF reports, about 25,000 people visited the Cave
of Machpelah that day, not counting the thousands who were unable to
enter or could not even reach Hebron because of serious problems on the
roads. The highly impressive rally was addressed by several dynamic
speakers, including Knesset Members Ariel Sharon, Moshe Peled, Rehavarn
Zeevi and Hanan Porat and Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman, who called for
redoubled efforts. The Hebron Jewish Community Council and the Rescue
Task Force then decided to bring thousands of Jews to Hebron for an
Independence Day March.

The march was arranged within a very short time in all outstandingly
complex organizational mission. The Kirat Arba Municipality provided
the infrastructure, route, stage and more. Singer Dedi Grauchet volunteered
to perform for participants.. The National Religious Party helped publicize
the event and the match was successful and impressive. Despite the moining rain, thousands marched thiough the Judean Hills that day, waving the
Israeli flag proudly. A concluding assembly was held at the Cave of
Machpelah, with the participation of Knesset Members and key public
figures, including NRP Chairman Zvulun Itaturner, Moledet Chairman
Rehavarn Zeevi, Likud Knesset Member Michael Eitan, Rabbi Zefania
Drori representing northern Israel (fighting was their in progress on Israel’s
northen border) and others.

Activity momentum continued:
municipal authorities and the Rescue
Task Force in Hebron and Kiryat Arba,
together with parents committees at all
schools, decided to hold a one-day strike
of all local institutions and to attend a
mass protest rally in Jerusalem under the slogan: “Withdrawal from Hebron
Mean’s abandoning security.” Meetings
were held with Knesset Members,
calling for a special session to block
withdrawal from Hebron.

The strike proved successful, as
thousands of Kirat Arba – Hebron
residents shut down all local institutions and proceeded to Jerusalem to
demonstrate and protest. The Knesset, then in recess, converted a spccial
session to discuss Hebron.

The day’s events were exceptionally orderly, concluding with a mass rally
in downtown Jerusalem to focus public interest on Hebron. The next day,
the Hebron Community Council met with the Rescue Task Force to plan
further activities, such as a Lag B’Orner match to the Tomb of Othniel.
Some doubts were raised, as the public had already been invited to Hebron
several times over the past few weeks. Nevertheless, the campaign was
launched and a Lag B’Orner event was held in Hebron. The results were
effective indeed despite the reservations expressed and the short time
available forplanning. Within 24 hours, posters were planned, printed and
pasted up all over Israel. Thousands of people marched to the Tomb of
Othriel, keeping Hebron prominently on the map.

A mass Hebron hospitality weekend was planned for the Shabbat coinciding
with the date of Hebron’s liberation, Iyar 29, with the cooroperation of all
the city’s Jewish residents. The Cave of Machpelah and the streets of Hebron
teemed with a broad cross-section of idealistic Jews. Public prayers inside
and outside tire Cave of Machpelah were heart warming. Then, the thousands
of worshippers heard encouraging news: On Friday evening, Israeli security
forces captured a dangerous terrotist, Hassan Salaruch, known as Engineer
No. 2, who was directly responsible for attacks in which dozens of Jews
were killed and was then on his way to plan further assaults on central
Israel. His Capture was possible only because the IDF maintained control
of all the streets of Hebron. Many residents of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem owe
their lives to the firm stand of Kiryat Arba and Hebron residents who
prevented withdrawal from Hebron. The spot where Salarneh was captured
is included in the 85% of the city that would have been turned over to the
terrorists. Had we not been there, this mass murderer would now probably
be planning another massive attack in Tel Aviv.

The elections of May 29 were a faleful contest to decide the future of the
Jewish People and the Land of Israel. Supporters of Hebron joined the
campaign devotedly, knowing that the destiny of the City of the Patriachs
was to be determined. A few days before the elections, the slogan
“Netanyahu is good lot the Jews” was widely circulated at the initiative of
philanthropist Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Gutnick, effectively leading to the
turnabout in election results. A Jewish National Government was
established, but the struggle is still going on. We have made significant
progress, but most ofthe battle is still before us. We will continue to maintain
presence and pray at the Cave of Machpelah, confident that He who
remembers the grace of our ancestors will redeem their desendants swiftly
and will rebuild the Land of Israel, the entire Holy Land, especially Hebron
and Jerusalem, for our eternal salvation.

Not withstinding all these hardships, the Jewish Community of Hebron is
gaining material and spiritual strength. Despite a Government freeze on
construction, the rebuilding of Beit Schneerson was completed thanks to
an extensive public fund-raising campaign with the participation of
thousands of Jews from all over Israel and the Diaspora. Another story
was added to Ben Romano for use by Yeshivat Shavei Hevron. The Gurnick
Center – Hebron was established near The Cave of Macphelah. Additional
families have joined the community even though conditions are especially
harsh in Hebron, where a series of Government orders – including a ban on
building homes and the purchase of housing and land – has long hampered
construction and development. In the public arena, Hebron has become a
symbol. Dozens of cities and towns in Israel have held rallies expressing support of and identification with Hebron, with the paiticipation of many
thousands of Jews, including a broad cross-section of public leaders.
Hebron’s position on the front lines in the struggle for the Land of Israel,
downplayed in homile media coverage, inspires numeolus manifestations
of support and
sympathy. Jews
throughout the
world know that
reinforced Jewish
presence in Hebron
Call halt the
dangerous political
process and
constitute a turning
point for the
salvation of the
Land of Israel and
the entire Jewish
People.

M. Trends for the Future

Settlement efforts in Hebron seek to consolidate, expand and develop the
Jewish Community. Increasing the Jewish population and redeeming the
City of the Patriarchs from its devastation constitute a national mission
and historic obligation for all the Jewish People. Jewish presence also
bolsters the entire region’s security, as it prevents terrorist organizations
front takinge control of Hebron as they have done in other cities and villages
in the Land of Israel. To realize these objectives, the construction of
additional Jewish neighborhoods is planned, as well as redemption and
renovation of Jewish homes, establishment of public institutions and job
development.

The mission of Abraham, father of the Jewish nation, the first to settle in
Hebron, has not been completed. Our work must continue despite all
adversity. The Hebron Community is fulfilling this mission on behalf of
the entire Jewish People, returning to the City of our Forefathers, from
which we derive historical depth and moral and intellectual strength to
carry on our struggle for the redemption of the Jewish Nation and the
Land Of Israel.

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