INTRODUCTION: The town of Hebron, with over 50,000 Arab inhabitants, often has been the centre of intercommunal violence on the West Bank.
GV Hebron at dawn
GV Mosque PAN DOWN TO security forces patrolling
SV Sign in wall "The Cave of Machpelah"
GV ZOOM IN Israelis and security forces leave cave after prayers (2 shots))0.50
GV Sign "Abraham Avino" synagogue dating to 16th century
GV Security forces
GV PAN People gathered around site
SV Crowds headed by Rabbi Levinger, leader of militant Kiryat settlers, gathered in temple
GV People and cars in temple area
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The town of Hebron, with over 50,000 Arab inhabitants, often has been the centre of intercommunal violence on the West Bank. A heavy curfew was imposed on the town's commercial area in February when a young Jewish settler was stabbed as he walked through the bustling markets. The incident took place near the spot where six Jews were murdered last year as they returned from Sabbath prayers. Regarded as the burial place of the three Jewish patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Hebron is holy to both Moslems and Jews, and now a new controversy has arisen over the holding of religious meetings.
SYNOPSIS: The problem began when Jewish settlers defied military regulations forbidding them to hold religious meetings at places holy to both Moslems and Jews on Fridays - the Moslem holy day. The Jewish settlers maintained they were in no way disturbing Moslem worshippers, who pray later in the day.
Local Arabs have expressed anger at what they term as blatant Jewish aggression, but Jew belonging to the Kiryat Arba Movement have continued to hold their gatherings despite the increasing tension between the two communities. Police security and patrols have been stepped up to prevent further outbreaks of violence.
A new Jewish quarter in the city was opened recently, and hundreds of people celebrated a controversial government decision over a year ago to resettle parts of the old city of Hebron, abandoned by the Jewish community in the riots of 1929.
Many foreign governments and moderate Israeli politicians have criticised the policy of permitting Jews to settle in the centre of Hebron, which has been an exclusively Arab town since the last Jews left over 50 years ago. But the government of Mr. Menachem Begin has refused to react to outside criticism.
The militant Kiryat Arva's efforts to strengthen their presence in the town continues, despite Arab protests. Mr, Mustife Natche, the acting Mayor of the town, has warned that this will only increase tension.