Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee

The HRC´s philosophy is to bring back the old beauty,

so it can open new doors to and for the world...

Contact: 02-222 6993/4, they also do guided tours (remuneration required).

The Committee’s aims are to renovate the Old City, to bring people back to live in this part of Hebron and to improve living conditions. Pre-1967, 10,000 lived in the Old City, from 1967 to 1996, 85% of these homes were abandoned. Israeli restrictions on the restoration of historical homes led to their deterioration – as indeed did the development of a local market for stolen goods and drugs. In combination with the problematic presence of the Jewish Settlers, an atmosphere of fear developed. In 1988, a group of architects from the University of Hebron formed the first “Committee for the Rehabilitation of the Old City”. They studied the architecture of the Old City systematically and in 1995 the committee was authorized to renovate all buildings except the ones occupied by Israeli settlers or army. From 1995 to 2001, the committee has restored over 150 buildings, 30 shops and many alleyways.

Walid S Abu Alhalaweh has been great in helping us with tours and giving presentations on the history of Hebron and the work of the HRC to our visitors. He is a computer systems engineer working in the public relations department of the HRC and he is doing a great job, besides having a great sense of humour. The roof of the HRC building was one of our favourite places to take visitors to as you can oversee the situation in the old city so well from there.


Hebron Rehabilitation Committee

The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee [HRC] was established in 1996, in the light of the decision of the Palestinian National Authority to take the responsibility for the preservation and development of the cultural and architectural heritage of the Old City of Hebron, and to save the Old City from the threat of takeover by radical Jewish settlers. The Committee has three main objectives:

  • To protect the cultural heritage of the city in an extensive way, by restoring its old buildings and protecting their constitutive elements. The ultimate goal is to save its original architectural and social identity.
  • To surround the Jewish settlements inside the Old City, by renovating Palestinian neighborhoods around them in order to stop their further expansion and to prevent their interconnection by increasing Palestinian population density between them.
  • To revive the Old City, by consolidating its bond with its inhabitants, reclaiming abandoned buildings, rehabilitating the infrastructure, providing social services to the population and connecting it to other neighborhoods of the city.

The HRC was able to accomplish outstanding results under very difficult circumstances. The majority of buildings around Jewish settlements has been restored and re-inhabited. Hundreds of families have found their new homes in the Old City. Furthermore, commercial marketplaces, streets and roads have also been rehabilitated and a significant part of the ancient architectural fabric has been rebuilt using traditional methods and materials.

From 1995 to 2009 the committee has restored over 850 buildings, 150 shops and many alleyways. Thanks to these efforts, over 900 families have returned to live here.

The HRC was only granted permission to renovate half of the Mosque as the other half is a synagogue.

But in many places they managed to bring the souk back to its old beauty.

On some days you can even get an idea of what life could be like without the restrictions of the occupation.

Walking down this ancient lane you realise, that this kind of environment has become more surreal than the burned cars and the littered protection screens above the lanes around the corner.

Sources: Palestine, Palestinians (2nd edition published September 2008 by the Alternative Tourism Group,Ramallah, Palestine); Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, www.hebronrc.org

1 comment:

  1. Ver Nice

    direct and shot information ..

    good luck