Kiryat Arba

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Jewish settlement outside of Hebron (Khalil).

The name of Kiryat Arba is taken from the biblical description of the place where Abraham is reputed to have purchased a plot of land to bury his wife, Sarah. One of the oldest and largest Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, Kiryat Arba was established in 1968, after Rabbi Moshe Levinger and his followers checked into a Hebron hotel and refused to leave. By 2002, the population of Kiryat Arba numbered 6,000, with an industrial area and a number of educationalmostly religiousinstitutions.

Although many settlers came to Kiryat Arba for purely economic reasons, the community is particularly known for its militant leadership, committed to an ideology of extending Jewish sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 and provoking Arabs to emigrate. Many of the leaders of the Kach movement are residents of Kiryat Arba. Violent encounters with Palestinians in Hebron have continued through the years. Jewish settlers have been killed while on their way to worship at the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Machpelah Cave), and in 1994 a resident of Kiryat Arba, Dr. Baruch Goldstein, massacred Muslim worshipers in the alIbrahimi Mosque. Residents of Kiryat Arba formed the core of the Jewish settlers who took up residence in the city of Hebron itself, concentrating around a former Jewish property known as Bet Hadassah.

Under the terms of the 1997 Hebron Agreement negotiated by then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kiryat Arba retained a territorial link to the site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, although the rest of the city was transferred to the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo Accord.

see also hebron; kach; levinger, moshe; oslo accord (1993).


Benvenisti, Meron. The West Bank Data Project: A Survey of Israel's Policies. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1984.

Benvenisti, Meron; Abu-Zayed, Ziad; and Rubinstein, Danny. The West Bank Handbook: A Political Lexicon. Jerusalem: Jerusalem Post, 1986.

Hirst, David. The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, 2d edition. Boston and London: Faber and Faber, 1984.

Lustick, Ian S. For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1988.

elizabeth thompson
updated by david newman