The area was emptied of its Jews during the Hevron massacre of 1929 when 67 Jews were slaughtered in their homes and synagogues. From the year 1540 until 1929, Jews lived on a large plot of land in Hevron, commonly known as "The Jewish Quarter." It was purchased by Rabbi Malchiel Ashkenazai, a refugee from the Spanish expulsion in 1492. Following the 1929 massacre and the exile of the community's Jewish population, the property, including houses and synagogues, was abandoned and left uninhabited.


In 1953, Jordanian troops assisted Hevron's Arab population in devastating the remains of the Jewish Quarter. The beautiful Avraham Avinu Synagogue was razed and turned into a goat sty, and apartment buildings were destroyed. Virtually nothing remained of the Quarter's earlier splendor. On part of the land, the Jordanians built an outdoor food market, which continued to operate even after Israeli liberated the city during the Six Day War in 1967.


Hevron is considered Judaism's second-holiest city because of the presence of the Machpelah Cave in which are buried Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. It is located near Kiryat Arba, south of Jerusalem.


Over a decade ago, when Arab-initiated violence in Hevron was at one of its highs, the army decided to clear out the Arab store-owners in the marketplace. "The sole purpose for the closing," wrote Hevron Jewish Community David Wilder at the time, "was to provide security for the Jews in Hevron, [which had been] jeopardized by the hundreds of Arabs who frequented the market every day."


Several years later, after 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass was shot to death by terrorists with a bullet to her head, Jews decided to renew their title to the land, and began renovating the stores and turning them into inhabitable apartments. Eleven families moved in.


In response to a court suit by the Hevron Municipality and its claim that Arabs had occupied the area, the Supreme Court ruled that the Jews must leave. Hevron spokesman Noam Arnon said that the Court had "decided that the land should be returned to the Arabs, even though it is clearly Jewish land that was robbed from us."


After the army and the residents agreed on their compromise, Arnon said, "The Jewish property that was stolen from the Jews who were murdered in the pogrom of 1929 will not be given to their murderers. It will remain in Jewish hands, a tough and unnecessary clash has been avoided, and we will continue with our holy work of building Hevron."

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