By Huda Rabah, Ontario, Canada | Thursday, July 12th, 2018
As the glorious Palestinian sun ascended on the horizon, the delegates excitedly awoke for another KTH adventure. This time the KTH team was traveling south to the historical city of Hebron (Khalil). Immediately upon arrival we were welcomed by the warm smile of our chaperone Leena Hammouri, who guided us through the Old Hebron city streets and busy metropolitan centres. As our wondering eyes and curious minds trekked through the Hebron buildings we admired the narrow sand coloured walls and stunning architectural landscape. Amazingly, Hebron is the largest area in the West Bank making it a perfect hub for trade and business. Although the Hebronites are known for their success in the commerce sector, the city has a unique yet unfortunate situation where settlers actually reside in the city, mostly in homes above the Hebron locals. As we made our way to the iconic Ibrahim mosque, the true nature of the Hebronite struggle became evident. In order to go through to the other half of the city, we needed to cross through unnerving metal gates that resembled prison security. This was part of many Checkpoints and blockades planted throughout the city that aimed to strike fear and constraint into the lives of Palestinians. This made us truly understand the terror associated with Hebron being split into two areas, ultimately leaving Palestinians at a massive disadvantage. Our guide Leena informed us that 30% of the city of Hebron is forbidden from Palestinians as multiple check points are placed around the city preventing freedom of movement, even for innocent children traveling to school. Nonetheless, excited to see what Hebron has to offer we went through the checkpoints with our heads held high and made it through to the Ibrahim mosque. There we had the opportunity to appreciate exquisite Islamic designs and visit the above ground graves of Prophet Ibrahim, Ishaq and their wives. As we continued walking through the tunnel bazaar, we haggled for good prices on souviners and sweets which gave us the opportunity to laugh and share interactions with the welcoming Hebron residents. After a delicious traditional lunch, his excellency Governor Kamel Hmeed cordially received us at the Hebron municipality where we collaboratively discussed how Hebron is a great example of Palestinian brilliance and despite the constant struggle, citizens in this area continue to live their daily life with perseverance, kindness and resiliency. Before we thought the day couldn’t get anymore fascinating, we had the opportunity to tour some of the factories that play a crucial role in Hebron’s identity. The Royal industrial trading company provides us with an interactive tour and presentation of their international furnishing and home decor selections. We also had the pleasure of sampling some mouthwatering dairy products at the Aljebrini dairy company where the staff showed us the true meaning of professionalism and quality products. A visit to the Palestinian Kuffiyeh factory allowed the KTH team to experience the exquisite mechanical tapestry involved in making the classic Palestinian scarf. We ended this eventful day with a quick visit to the local glassblowing and ceramic shop where part of the team mesmerizingly watched workers transform recycled glass shards into iridescent artwork. Meanwhile, the rest of the team browsed the extensive selection of iconic hand made Hebron ceramics. While re-boarding the bus, each member was sorrowful that we had to leave this lively city, but even more pleased that we had the opportunity to experience the magic that is Hebron.