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IPS - Renovating an Embattled City | Inter Press Service

HEBRON, Occupied West Bank, Dec 29 2012 (IPS) - Every day, Anas Maraka sees his family's home, but can't go inside. "It's hardest for my grandfather," said Maraka, referring to the house overlooking Shuhada Street, once the central marketplace in Hebron's old city.

While he never lived there himself, Maraka explained that being so close - and yet, so far - from his family's ancestral home motivates him to maintain Palestinians' presence in the largest, and one of the most tense and volatile, cities in the West Bank.

"I like the old city. It's our culture. Our goal is to rehabilitate houses in the old city and bring people back to abandoned houses. We want to improve the quality of life," explained Maraka, a member of the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC).

Maraka told IPS that in 15 years of work, HRC has refurbished approximately 900 houses in the old city of Hebron. This rehabilitation, he said, has allowed some 10,000 Palestinians to return to the area.

"After the Second Intifada, most people left their houses. They were afraid to go back because of the Israeli settlers and the Israeli military. They can't live easily in the old city, but we're trying to bring them back. We can't leave this area because the settlers would come to take the houses," Maraka said.

According to a 2006 survey conducted by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, over 1,000 Palestinian homes were abandoned and over 1,800 shops were closed in the centre of Hebron as a result of Israeli restrictions in the area. This represents about 42 percent of homes, and 77 percent of businesses, that were originally used by the city's occupants.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 03:11:59 PM EST
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