Saturday afternoon in the flashpoint city of Hebron
One of the world’s oldest living cities, steeped in sanctity for both Muslims and Jews, Hebron – Al-Khalil to the West Bank city’s 250,000 Arabs – has faced tides of violence for nearly a century. Both its Arabic and Hebrew names invoke the “friend” of God – Abraham, whose venerated tomb lies here. A major flashpoint in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Hebron’s Old City is also home to 700 Jewish settlers. Each Shabbat, escorted by soldiers in full combat gear, they parade victoriously through the old streets – riddled with concrete barriers, barbed wire, military watchtowers and roofs of battered chicken-wire fences guarding against barrages of trash routinely launched from settler-occupied apartments above. A triumphal march for the settlers, it is for the Palestinians a weekly reminder of an occupation.