Hebron, the wealthiest, most high-tech Palestinian Authority City

H1 Hebron is a thriving economic base for the Palestinian Authority, in stark contrast to what is portrayed by many media outlets.

6.4.16, 18:01
(Photo credit: KFC.ps website)
For Americans who may be familiar with the popular restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken, it may be surprising to discover that Hebron, with all its news coverage of conflict and politics, has a branch of the famous eatery located on historic Ein Sarah Street, named after the ancient spring associated with the Biblical Matriarch. It's just another dichotomy in one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. 
Most tours focus on the Old City, located in H2, while Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the thriving economy of H1 is rarely seen. But its industrial power is felt nonetheless with a large amounts of exports leaving the city every day. The success of H1 Hebron has attracted the attention of Israeli leaders as well, with Yochai Damari, head of the Hebron Hills Regional Council, paying the region a visit in March along with Israel's Regional Cooperation Ministry Director General Hashem Hussein. See article: Israeli Leaders Plan Business, Medical Ties with Arabs in Hebron Region
 The following is a brief overview of the other side of town.

(VIDEO: Herbawi mattress company, founded in 1978 is an ISO 9001-2000 certified company and a great example of the technological innovation and economic advancement of H1 Hebron.)

Throughout much of Hebron's history, the city was considered a small backwater town with little economy, both for Jewish and Arab residents. It's ideal weather and soil conditions made the area ideal for grape harvesting, and recent archaeological excavations uncovered wine presses next to mikvot, leading researchers to believe Hebron was a center for providing wine for the Holy Temple. But throughout the Ottoman era and leading into the British Mandate, Hebron was small and underpopulated, like much of the Land of Israel.
The Jewish community received a boost with the exiles from the Spanish Inquisition, and later with waves of immigrants from Europe, such as Chabad in the late 1800s and the Slobodka yeshiva in 1925. After the 1929 riots ended the Jewish community and the 1948 war cut off access, it was taken over by the Jordanians and fell into neglect. After the liberation of the city in 1967, life slowly returned. 
Jewish residents who returned in the 1970s reported small stores. Interaction with the Arab residents was limited but civil. The return of Israeli sovereignty prompted many Arab leaders to create facts on the ground, leading to the establishment of the Hebron University in 1971, which teaches Sharia law and Islamic studies, science and technology, nursing and more. Hebron University has over 10,000 students and as of 2015 there were 170 full-time faculty members of whom 105 are Ph.D. holders. Today there are three universities in Hebron including Hebron University, Palestine Polytechnic University, and the Hebron campus of Al Quds Open University.
In 1997, the Hebron Accords were signed dividing the city. H1, comprising 80% of the city fell under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and H2, comprising 20% of the city is under Israeli jurisdiction. Israeli civilians are allowed access to 3% of the total area only within H2, with the rest being manned by the Israel Defense Force. The days of Kiryat Arba residents walking through downtown Hebron and interacting with Arab shopkeepers were now over.

Today, Hebron’s Arab population has approximately 200,000 people. The city area is about 20 square kilometers with H1 being 18 square kilometers.
H1 Hebron is a major source of goods and products to the State of Israel. For example many mattresses manufactured in Hebron are shipped to Israel and relabeled. H1 is the main industrial center in the PA controlled areas with more than 40% of the PA economy produced there. There are 17,000 factories and workshops in all areas of production such as stone, houseware, and even clothing and uniforms used by Israeli security personnel. The city is a major manufacturer of shoes including Israeli-brand slippers. Most pottery vases found in Israeli nurseries are produced in H1.
The most advanced printing press in the Middle East is in H1 Hebron where notebooks and paper products of all kinds are produced and sold in Israel under various brand names.
Plastic is a big business in H1 with outlets such as the Zamzam factory which produces plastic bags and the Royal Plastic Factory, founded in 1993, which has over 1,000 employees.

Another big industry is advanced glass manufacturing including mirrors, tempering and cutting tools. Crystal glass is produced by the Natsheh family business, which has been in existence for generations. The history of glass production in Hebron goes back a long time with a main entrance in H1 being called Glass Junction.

Every day 700 merchants enter Israel from H1 Hebron. 600 trucks pass through the Tarqumiya check point on the western outskirts and 100 quarry trucks pass through the Metar checkpoint in the Southern Hebron Hills.
H1 Hebron is the source of 60% of stone and marble resources in the Judea and Samaria. 33% of the PA’s GNP is from Hebron, including 60% of the jewelry industry and jewelry production, 28% of the output in the agricultural sector and 75% of the leather and shoe industry. Most agricultural products from PA controlled Hebron are sent to Israel. Trade volume between Israel and the PA reaches 30 billion dollars annually and the city trades with China as well. The minimum wage is 50 NIS per day versus an average of 30 NIS per day in other PA areas.
The city of Hebron features the Hussein Bin Ali Stadium, funded by Jordan, while Dura International Stadium is located in the nearby township of Dura.
Medical centers in the greater Hebron area incldue Princess Alia Governmental Hospital, Al Ahli General Hospital, founded in 1993, Al-Mezan Speciality Hospital, Abu Hassan Qasim hospital in Yatta, and Bani Naim Maternity Hospital.

In 2013, the Hebron based Palestine Polytechnic University signed an agreement with Korea International Cooperation Agency to establish a $3 million Korean-Palestinian Biotechnology center. It is one of the many projects in H1 Hebron funded by Korea.
Over 2,500 men serve in five Arab security organizations in H1 Hebron.
In contrast, the Jewish community of H2 Hebron faces severe restrictions on development, real estate transactions and zoning permits. Hebron is a city of dualities, where economic prosperity and politics divisions exist side by side in what is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

United States contact info:

1760 Ocean Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230

In Israel contact the offices of the Jewish Community of Hebron at:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hebronofficial

Palestinian Authority Hebron downtown business district | 21 Images