The decision of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO to include the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Old City on the World Heritage List on July 7, 2017 in the Polish city of Karakov is a culmination of years of hard work and determination.
In order to prove the identity of this historic city and to emphasize its Arab and Islamic sanctity, the Municipality of Hebron and its reconstruction committee worked together with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to prepare the registration file and made great efforts in drafting, reviewing and directing it in a manner worthy of the importance of this historic city and its unique architectural heritage.
This registration is incredibly important because it ensures the protection of this historic town and its high cultural and heritage values, which have long been a national priority.
The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee has made extraordinary efforts to rehabilitate the Old City and return its residents to protect it from the plans of the Israeli occupation authorities. These plans aim at seizing, Judaizing or obliterating Hebron’s Islamic features through diverse practices, including the targeting of its historical buildings.
Israel destroyed many of Hebron’s old buildings and established colonial outposts on top of the remnants of important parts of Hebron’s urban fabric, distorting its beauty and purity. Because the Old City and the Ibrahimi Mosque are now recognized World Heritage Sites, the protection of these sites has become an international responsibility and holds the occupation forces legally accountable in the event of causing any damage to any of the heritage values of the Old City.
Additionally, the registration of the Old City on the World Heritage List provides an opportunity to encourage tourism in the Old City and to promote its historical and architectural features. This will improve its economic situation and lesson the economic suffering resulting from the measures of the Israeli occupation, including restricted access to Old City streets, roads, and markets.
The registration file that nominated the Old City of Hebron to the World Heritage List was an integral document composed of seven chapters:
The first chapter includes a statement of the boundaries of the registration area, represented by the Ibrahimi Mosque and the surrounding urban fabric (old center area), in addition to defining an area of rebound within the boundaries of the overall plan of the Old City.
The second chapter includes a description of the site in terms of architectural and urban style, morphology, factors influencing its development, and the history of the Old City during various historical periods. A large part of this chapter is dedicated to the Ibrahimi Mosque. It highlights its history, its architecture and its social importance, and the historical and heritage values that characterize this historic landmark.
The third chapter considers the reasons for the Old City’s exceptionally high value as a heritage site. Most notably, Hebron hosts the famous Ibrahimi Mosque, a unique landmark that explains an important part of human history. The Old City is also characterized by its urban fabric, which has maintained its continuity from the Mamluk era to the present day. The work done to restore and preserve the Old City for future generations was an important factor in determining its exceptional value.
The fourth chapter discusses the current state of restoration and preservation to restore life to the Old City. All the achievements made are presented in this context.
Chapter 5 reviews the database of the Old City, and Chapter 6 contains a vision of the mechanisms of implementation in heritage management. The seventh chapter includes a collection of documents and pictures. The letter of the nomination is attached to the book detailing the comprehensive plan for the preservation and revitalization of the Old City of Hebron and the guidebook for the renovation work.