Study Arabic in Palestine

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Join Our Family in Palestine and Germany

Welcome to the Excellence Center: People who are between 18 – 75 years old are eligible to participate in all of our programs in Palestine and Germany. All nationalities and majors are welcome! You do not have to have any degree to join us. The Excellence Center hosts internationals year-round. Participants decide when they would like to start and end their programs. We are very flexible when it comes to starting and ending dates.

About

The Excellence Center would like to invite you to participate in the Study Arabic Intensive Program in Hebron. The Arabic Program combines studying Arabic with an immersion into the Palestinian culture and history.

International participants study the Arabic language with Palestinian teachers in interactive ways. Language studies include learning the Palestinian dialect and Modern Standard Arabic. We offer Arabic courses for all levels from starters to advanced learners. The Excellence Center provides international students with all necessary books needed in the course.

The Study Arabic Program is a singular opportunity for students searching to make a unique difference in their lives. While studying Arabic in Hebron, they are also involved in community development activities that are organized by the Excellence Centre.

The program is an optimal opportunity that gives an intimate, first-hand experience of Palestinian life and the political realities of that life in Hebron

Highlights
  • Stay with a Palestinian family in Hebron
  • Engagement with Palestinian youth in cultural and educational activities
  • Visit unique tourist attractions with a non-touristic perspective
  • Live and engage in the Palestinian daily life
  • Meet new people and make new Palestinian and international friends

Questions & Answers

Reviews

94%
based on 88 reviews
  • Academics 9.1
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8.8
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 1 - 15 of 88
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Olivia
10/10

3 Weeks with the Excellence Center

Today is my last day at the Excellence Center after a 3 week stay here. I came to Hebron to study Arabic and I have learned a ton during my stay. But while here, I also fell in love with Palestine and the people who have welcomed me into their homes and lives. The Excellence Center is a truly unique place that cultivates life-long connections and friendships between people. The structure of the Arabic language program is quite effective in encouraging students (even shy ones like myself) to practice speaking from day 1, and the people who run the Center are loving and kind and endlessly patient. My teacher Ibrahim was fantastic, passionate about his work, and came to every lesson with enthusiasm. My host Marwa was so welcoming and brought laughter into every day. This place is a gem!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Robert
10/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

My name is Bobby Stevens and I am from New York in the United States. I graduated St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelors degree in International Studies. Some of my hobbies include traveling, reading and playing football. I am currently finishing up my volunteer work in Hebron, Palestine with The Excellence Center.
Here at The Excellence Center I am teaching English as well as learning Arabic. As an English teacher I have had many different types classes. I have assisted Arabic teachers who are native to Palestine, I have taught in a one on one setting, and I have also had my own class of 7-9 students at the Intermediate level. My experience teaching at The Excellence Center has been nothing but wonderful. All of the teachers are very well qualified and always so helpful. I’m proud to call each one of the teachers here my close friend that I will never forget. Teaching English has been a very rewarding experience as I have really felt as though I am making a difference in my students lives.
Learning Arabic with the amazing Marwa Shantir has been an absolute blessing. Over these past 3 months I went from knowing basic greetings to being able to participate in conversation with native speakers. The full emersion experience is the best way to learn any language. Aside from having one on one lesions 3 times a week with a highly qualified teacher, I am surrounded by native speakers which forces me to practice at all times of the day. Although I do not have Arabic lessons every day, I am constantly practicing with everyone around me.
The city of Hebron is really eager to improve their tourism industry. For this reason everybody is so generous and kind to all foreigners coming into the city. Every day I am invited to another dinner, lunch or café for a coffee. You really feel like you are home here at Hebron, not just as another tourist in another city. Family life and morals are such an important part of the culture here in Hebron. Reputation of one’s name is very important and because of this I have felt so safe throughout my stay here. From all of the cities I have traveled to, I have never felt safer leaving my door unlocked at night.
I am very sad that my time here in Hebron is up, but I am excited to come back in April and work for a month. Hebron has really became my 2nd home and all of the people here my brothers and sisters. There is no city like the city of Hebron.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jasmijn
9/10

Experience Excellence Center

I did the 2 months intensive arabic course at the Excellence Center in Hebron. I really enjoyed the interactive lessons with my teacher, and i learned a lot during this 2 months.
Beside my lessons there also were some visits with the Center. I went to Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho and the death sea. But also some visits in Hebron itself, like the Old City and the Ibrahimi mosque, the glass factory and the kufiya factory.

During this 2 months i lived with a lovely hostfamily, they were all really kind and hospitable. We always had dinner together with the family, and i spend a lot of time together with my host sister.

I felt completely safe in Palestine. The palestinian people are really kind, helpful and hospitable. and i did not had any bad experience.
I highly recommend the Excellence center for others, it will be a great experience.
And i already planned to go back to Hebron and to the Excellence center

Yes, I recommend this program
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Vilma
10/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

I'm a 25-years old sociology student from Finland. I studied Arabic for two months in the Excellence Center, Hebron. I ended up in the city by chance: I was originally looking for Arabic programmes in Lebanon until I came across the Excellence Center. I have to say I am extremely happy with my sudden change of plan.

The Excellence Center is definetely worth your money. Not only the quality of the Arabic intensive course is high (I didn't speak any Arabic prior to coming to Hebron and after two months I'm able to handle everyday situations on my own), but the Center will give you a very good opportunity to dive into the local culture. The staff and the many local friends associated with the center invite the foreigners regularily to dinners, weddings and trips. The EC is very willing to provide trips on request - during my stay we for example went to a bedouin village, a refugee camp and many cities in the West Bank. The staff, including my teachers, became very dear friends to me. The athmosphere in general is very family like - we even share the breakfast together.

What comes to safety, Hebron is one of the safest places I've travelled to. Even as a woman I'm not afraid of walking the streets alone. The religious lifestyle of the people keeps crime rates low. People are very welcoming and always willing to help. On top of this the locals are very curious about the few foreigners and are extra keen on helping and making the foreigners feel welcome. Any problems you have the EC will always provide help. I have felt very taken care of since the beginning.

I would for sure recommend the Excellence Center for anyone interested in studying Arabic or travelling in the Middle East. For me this was the first time in the Middle East and I enjoyed my stay so much since the day one. Thank you so much!!

How can this program be improved?
Things could be a bit more organized and communication could be a bit more efficient.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Oceane
10/10

Intensive Arabic at the Excellence Center

Looking out of the car window on my way back from Nablus, observing the Palestinians busy but laid-back Saturday routine and admiring the rocky hills in the backdrop, I cannot help but feel sad about going back to my home country of France in a few days. In just six weeks, Palestine has claimed my heart.
Its language, despite its difficulty and subtleties, has grown on me. Despite a year and a half of studying Modern Standard Arabic in university, I was barely able to articulate a word when I first arrived. The first few days were mentally exhausting, trying to juggle between the few words I knew and never ending questions from everyone I met. Luckily, thanks to the intensive Arabic course I was following and mostly to my amazing teacher Shayma, I quickly developed my vocabulary and was able to understand more and more situations. With 15h a week, the classes are challenging and require hard work; but Shayma always managed to make it interactive. During my time here, I’ve had Arabic classes involving cooking, going to restaurants, shopping, listening to music... After these six weeks, I feel much more confident in my Arabic and while it is far from being perfect, I feel more motivated than ever to work towards fluency.
The Palestinian food, cleverly mixing local olive oil and spices into heavenly pastries, has conquered both my heart and my stomach. Coming in as a vegetarian, I arrived with the idea that I’d only be eating hummus and falafels during my time in Palestine. Not that I would have complained about this, but I have been pleasantly surprised with the variety of food I am able to eat here. While most of the dishes are made with chicken, there is always on the side the option of rice, vegetables, or a salad. While vegetarianism/veganism are concepts that are still relatively foreign here and can sometimes be met with skepticism, most people will be very understanding and accommodate to your dietary restrictions. One thing is for sure, you will never go without food!
And finally, the Palestinian people, always welcoming me into their homes and sharing their life, hopes, and fears, have become family. My host family, but also friends met along the way, teachers, and other foreigners from the center, have made my time in Hebron unique and unforgettable. Not a day went by without being invited for dinner, for a wedding, for a visit of the city, or for a weekend trip. While prior to coming here I was afraid to become a bit bored, I quickly realized that I would not have enough time to do everything I wanted! Becoming so close to locals has also enabled me to discover the history of the country under new angles. Hearing life stories from Palestinians has been eye-opening and came as a very much needed counter-image to what is often portrayed in Western media. Palestinians are some of the most respectful people I have met during my travels, and while they do endure the effects of the conflicts, they always make everyone they meet feel at home - regardless of origins, nationality, or religion. This has led me to feel extremely safe while strolling through the busy streets of H1 in Hebron, where the conflict seems surprisingly faraway.
My month and a half in Hebron, Palestine with the Excellence Center has been all around incredible and has taught me more than any history or language class could have taught me. While I start getting my bags ready for my departure, my mind is with my Palestinian families whom, I know, I will see again soon.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Vaclav
10/10

Individual Arabic Lessons

I really enjoyed the lessons and have made a substantial progress thanks to my great teacher. We designed the lessons together so that it fit my needs perfectly. The atmosphere was relaxed and very friendly and it was fun practicing Arabic with my teacher and the others in the center.

I liked the fact that the international students and volunteers meet there with locals studying English and am impressed with the work the center does for their community. I also appreciate very much the many tours and presentations we had, through which we got to know the city and the situation in Palestine in general.

Unlike the female students, who are living in host families, are the men sharing an apartment near the city center. This offers more flexibility and was a very nice experience, also because the owner and neighbour at the same time was very welcoming and invited us to spend time with him and his friends and family almost every evening.

On the weekends I had the opportunity to travel through Palestine, either with the other students, their host families or alone. I visited Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Jericho and the Dead See and was always impressed by the beauty of the places and the people’s hospitality. Everyone on the street is ready to answer your questions, give you directions and often even invite you for coffee. I felt very safe and welcome during my whole time in Palestine.

I was surprised to find out that the weather in Hebron is very pleasant even in the middle of summer, because of the relatively high altitude and low humidity, which doesn’t necessarily apply to other cities like Jericho.

Overall I had a great time and hope to come back again in future.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Alyssa
10/10

A truly rewarding experience

As a place to study Arabic, the Excellence Center is, as its name suggests, truly excellent. The classes are tailored directly to the level and needs of the students, and as such, they are structured in such a way that challenges students to think, learn, and excel in entirely new ways. This is largely due to the strength and experience of the staff and teachers, though credit must also be given to the warm and inclusive environment created by the students and international volunteers that come to the Center, no matter the length of their stay or their form of involvement.
A real strength of the Center is that the instruction does not stop at the classroom. As students, we have opportunities to visit places within Hebron like the old city, a kuffiyeh factory, a refugee camp, and even a settlement, among many others. There are even more places to explore outside of Hebron, including Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, and Jericho, all of which are simple, inexpensive, and safe to reach. Prior to coming to Palestine, I received all of the usual, worried warnings about the security situation here, and though it is wise to be cautious in any situation (in any part of the world), I have felt entirely safe during my stay.
And more than feeling safe, I have been welcomed with open arms by so many of the people here. This is likely what I will remember the most about Palestine as a whole; it will not necessarily be the food or the weather (which is definitely a challenge in the middle of July), but the kindness and generosity of the people of Palestine. Included in this is, of course, my host family, every single member of which is incredible and kind and intelligent. They enhanced my experience here in nearly every way, and I am so grateful to have another family and another home to return to next time I visit Palestine.
On the whole, my experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron has been incredibly rewarding. That is not to say that there were no challenges - of course there were - but these challenges were mediated by the fact that being here is not about being comfortable, but about learning (sometimes difficult) lessons, both inside and outside of the classroom. I recommend anybody interested in taking on such challenges to give the Center a chance. I’m positive the experience will be well worth it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Rosalind Dyveke
10/10

Intensive arabic course 2 weeks

I travelled to Palestine alone with no arabic experience. I have travelled alot, but not alone like this before, I was excited and also a little bit terrified of traveling alone in a different country. At the Excellence Center they where very welcomming and since the center is small it was easy to get to know both the teachers and other international students. At the center I got private arabic classes, and that was good for my learning, since the teaching went forward in my own pace. I learned a lot in two weeks, but wished i could have stayed longer. After two weeks it was really sad leaving as I have just started to get to know the people at the excellence center and also my hostfamily better.
The picture I have added is a picture of me wearing a Palestinian dress my hostmom helped me pick out.

Yes, I recommend this program
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giverny
10/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

I spent 1 month studying intensive Arabic in Palestine. When I started I was a complete beginner, but thanks to fantastic teaching I am now comprehensive in Arabic, after just one month. I stayed in a Palestinian host family which was a brilliant experience as not only was I studying Arabic in the day, but I was also able to speak Arabic in the evening with my family, therefore. Further, my host family were so welcoming and taught me a lot about Palestinian life and culture. Before coming to Palestine, I was slightly worried about safety and travelling, but Palestinians are extremely welcoming and friendly, I have never felt unsafe being here. Thank you to all the wonderful people I have met at the centre, you have made my experience unforgettable and I hope to return to Palestine again soon!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sophia
10/10

One month as an Intensive Arabic Student in Hebron

My name is Sophia and I am a BA student from the University of Saint Andrews studying International Relations. Therefore, it was extremely important to me not just to understand Palestine from the perspective of a textbook, but to experience the language, politics and culture for myself. In the Excellence Centre I chose to participate in the Intensive Arabic course for the whole month of August 2018.
During my time at the Excellence Centre, my knowledge and fluency regarding the Palestinian dialect increased tremendously. After studying Classical Arabic for a few months two years before, I arrived knowing close to nothing. However, with the fantastic one-on-one teaching which is largely directed by what you want to learn, I have left being able to hold conversations with natives here.
The environment in the Centre is extremely friendly, you meet many Palestinian children, teachers and international volunteers and students. I know that I have made life-long friends here and I plan to return as soon as possible!
The centre also provides excursions around Hebron, such as to the Fawwar refugee camp, glass factories and the centre of commerce. These experiences were some of my most valuable and to visit the refugee camp was incredibly eye-opening and moving.
Hebron itself is a city filled with culture and tradition. Although conservative at times, I would highly recommend staying here as oppose to other, more Western Palestinian cities as here you can truly witness and experience Palestine in its most original form.
Staying with a host family was an amazing experience. They have greeted us with open arms from the start, ensuring our comfort and helping us practice our Arabic. It is also a great opportunity to experience Palestinian home-cooking which is as authentic and delicious as I had imagined. Not only will you be able to eat with your host family for dinner, there are many restaurants and cafes where you can buy a variety of food: including falafel, maqloubeh, kebab and Shawerma, for very low prices.
During the weekends, the friends that I had made here and myself would visit different cities in Israel and Palestine. My favourites would be the bustling, multi-cultural city of Nazareth and the beautiful Golan Heights where we were able to visit the Sea of Galilee and look over to Syria.
My overall experience in the Excellence Centre and Palestine has been fantastic, although I felt very nervous at first, after a day I realised how safe, comfortable and friendly the country and the people are. The teaching is extremely high-quality, and the opportunity to travel is a huge bonus. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is on the fence, you won’t regret it!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Carly
10/10

Learn Arabic in Palestine

I am a Ph.D. candidate and teacher educator, and I have wanted to learn Arabic for several years -- not for academic or employment purposes, but simply for fun and to be able to communicate with Arabic speakers in my city. I came to the Excellence Center to study Palestinian Arabic in an immersive environment. I chose the Center over other programs because of the flexible start and end dates, the personalized individual courses, and the opportunity to live with a host family. I also appreciated that the foreigners at the Center represented a range of countries, backgrounds, and ages.

When I came here, I could read and write the alphabet (very slowly), but I had no ability to communicate, and I don’t think I could write a single sentence. I was fortunate to have a teacher with whom I “clicked” and who was very good at teaching a beginner. I found that she was very perceptive about my needs and preferences as a learner. After just a couple of days, I started recognizing words she was teaching me when I listened to conversations around me. Now, after five weeks, I have made significant improvements in listening, speaking, reading, and writing Arabic. While I still have a long way to go, I now have a much better foundation. When I return home, I will be better able to engage the Arabic speakers around me in conversation. (I evaluate language teachers for a living, so I am pretty difficult to impress.)

I was lucky to live with two different host families, as my first family had a logistical issue when some members came home after living out of town. While I didn’t want to leave them, I really enjoyed getting to experience two different lifestyles (and I still got to visit them). It’s difficult to express how open and welcoming my families were. They included me in all of their activities and always made sure I had anything I needed. Members of both families enjoyed teaching me about Islam and the Quran.

Beyond your host family, you will meet friendly people everywhere you go in Hebron. For example, I was walking to school one morning during my first week when a car stopped and the woman in the passenger seat asked if I wanted a ride; she felt that it was too hot for me to be walking. [Though I was here in the summer and it was certainly hot, it wasn’t unbearable. I generally wore linen pants, t-shirts with ¾ sleeves, and a scarf. (Make sure your clothes are made from breathable fabrics!)] While getting in a car with strangers would be very unusual and certainly not advisable in my home country, I accepted her offer. I then learned that she and her husband were Palestinian Americans who were here visiting family in Hebron and Halhul. I went to a relative’s home with them to pick up their daughter, met their little nieces and nephews who all wanted to shake my hand, then was driven right to the door of the Center -- but not before they had stopped to get falafel for me, because they were concerned that I hadn’t yet eaten breakfast.

Life here is very easy for foreigners, and Hebron is much more than what you will see on YouTube or Twitter. To answer everyone’s question, yes, it is safe. Don’t go walking around the border between H1 and H2 after Friday prayers, but I can’t think of anything else to warn you about. I look forward to telling people back home about Palestine and especially about Hebron. After leaving Hebron to visit other cities like Bethlehem and Jerusalem, I was always happy to return “home.” I had several conversations with other foreigners at the Center about how comfortable we feel here.

Some recommendations for a successful experience studying Arabic at the Center:
* You will get the most out of your intensive Arabic study if you review and practice each day. Find time and space to study -- which may not be possible at home.
* Don’t neglect informal learning opportunities like attending weddings, meeting extended family, and so on. Just as people will want to practice their English with you, they will also be happy to help you practice your Arabic. Adapt as much as possible to your family’s schedule, diet, and so on. Stay in Palestine as long as your schedule allows; let yourself have time to “just hang out”.
* In terms of interacting with the other foreigners at the Center, you can be as social or independent as you want to be. However, you are likely to find some good friends and/or travel buddies here!

I will miss the people of Hebron terribly, and I plan to return to the Excellence Center in the future. I would be happy to answer questions from any prospective Arabic students about my experiences here.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sigrid
9/10

2 weeks in Hebron

My name is Sigrid and I went to Hebron and the Excellence Center to refresh my Arabic skills before taking up my studies in Arabic after a break of 1.5 years. I also wanted to improve my skills in colloqial Arabic and become better at speaking in general.
My teacher was Maryam and we met three hours a week and focused on basics and to reactivate much of the vocabulary and expressions I had forgotten. We also concentrated on specifically Palestinian vocab and expressions.
My experience at the center has been really great. The people are very nice and welcoming and Hebron itself is a nice city for foreigners because there are not too many tourists so you can practice your Arabic in the street, the shops, and the taxis as well :-)

How can this program be improved?
More inclusion of songs, music and videos maybe, but that might be easier if I'd been there for longer time.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Emma
9/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

As an immersive experience with the Hebron Excellence Center, the staff and the resources provided were of great quality. Arabic exposure was ideal, in my experience, due to Palestinian hospitality and the opportunities provided to speak throughout the course of studies. Arabic teachers here are also amazing with providing conversational practice to the students and helping with vocabulary retention and grammar correction. The visits to different areas also lent us a greater insight into Palestinian culture and the politics that make up a great part of the daily life in this area. It was overall a very rewarding experience and one that will continue to be valued.

How can this program be improved?
A greater amount of organization and progress tracking would maybe aid the program in visualizing concrete results for the intensive Arabic program. A more meticulous tailoring to individual needs would greater complement the amazing individual attention that the Center already has to offer.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Lauren
9/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

I had a lovely experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron. The Arabic classes were very good and I learned a lot in a short time and feel much more comfortable in my Arabic. My host family was incredibly nice and allowed me to eat so much delicious local food and try dishes I hadn't before. The program also allowed me lots of free time to explore the city and travel around Palestine to see some of the sites there. Ibraheim was a great teacher and tons of fun to work with. Also the other internationals at the center were lovely.

How can this program be improved?
My host family was a bit far away in Halhul and I think it would have been easier to stay somewhere withing walking distance of the center. Also I think they deserved to be compensated more for their efforts.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Qing
10/10

Incredible experience in Palestine with Excellence Center

My name is Qing, I am a student from China. I have spent six weeks learning Arabic with Excellence Center in Hebron. I am living with other volunteers and students in a dormitory. Though the wi-fi in our dorm is not very stable and water is some time cut off, the place and people are still lovely. My program is intensive Arabic course, I spent three to four hours with my tutor. The Arabic course tends out very worth and interesting. And I use rest of my time to join the tours provided by the center.

Staying Hebron also provide me a great chance to explore the local culture and have deeper understanding of the Palestine-Israel conflict. There are many tours provided by the center every week, from visit the old city of Hebron to local university and factory. Though it not a full-scale culture emersion, I obtain many facts and conduct many communications with locals. And as the biggest city in the West Bank, it is very easy use Hebron as base to travel around the West Bank and the transportation here is quite cheap and convenient. And it is safe to stay and traveling around the West Bank. The people in Hebron is also very friendly and even “militant” hospitality.

However, the most important part for me is learning Arabic. I have one-on-one class with my tutor, Shayma, 5 days a week. So, it is intense, but not overwhelming. Because it is unlike normal language class in university that strict follow the text book, we will spend a hour and half to talking about anything that interesting us that including local customs, culture, Palestinian cuisine and some politics. And we also learn all the basic grammar and useful words and phrases that really helpful during the daily life. Though 6 weeks are still a short time regarding learning a new language, the learning here is efficient and helpful for further Arabic study.

It is worthwhile to take the opportunities to study Arabic in the Excellence Center and explore the real situation here in the West Bank. In a word, if I have chance I will visit this place again.

How can this program be improved?
No need to improve.
Yes, I recommend this program

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Meet the Staff

About The Excellence Center

The Excellence Center was established in June 2011 as a youth initiative to offer educational and community services to its diverse group of internationals and Palestinians. It is located in the main heart of Hebron on Ein Sarah street which is under...