It was right to come to Hebron late on. In most of the West Bank, the settlements are out of town, surrounding the towns. As the “resting place” of Abraham, Hebron is of particular significance to the most extreme of the religious settlers.
There is a settlement in the heart of town, with about 500 settlers guarded by about 2000 soldiers. The settlers themselves wander around in everyday clothes carrying large automatic weapons. It feels completely deranged.
Any other city, even in Palestine, with such a history and so many ancient sights would be bustling with tourists and market traders. Hebron is dead, with several streets blocked off and shut down to create a kind of protective barrier. The market traders were thrown out and are desperate.
Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre
I took this image from where Baruch Goldstein was standing when he opened fire on a Mosque full of people in 1994 during Ramadan, killing 29 and wounding 125. The protests that took place afterwards led to the current situation in Hebron.
Outside of the sealed-off area, some of the market remains, but we were constantly accosted by desperate people trying to sell us trinkets but effectively begging (like the very determined chap in maroon in the picture after next). Having been thrown of the nearby streets, they had nothing.
The settlers have no proper living either, but are funded by rich Australians and Americans.
The remaining section of the market has to be protected by a mesh, because Israeli settlers were throwing their rubbish down. Now they are more likely to throw liquids, including alcohol, which is particularly offensive.