|• Latin||Durrah (official)|
|State||State of Palestine|
|• Type||City (from 1967)|
|• Head of Municipality||Mr. Ahmad Salhoub|
|Name meaning||Dura (proper noun) from Hebrew אֲדוֹרַים Adoraim|
Dura (Arabic: دورا) is a Palestinian city located eleven kilometers southwest of Hebron in the Hebron Governorate in the southern West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of over 28,268 in 2007. The current mayor is Ahmad Salhoub.
In 1517, the village was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire with the rest of Syria. After the British Mandate, in the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Dura came under Jordanian rule. Dura was established as a municipality on January 1, 1967, five months before it came under Israeli occupation after the Six-Day War. In 1995 it became part of Area A under the Palestinian Authority.
The present-day name of Dura has been identified with ancient Adoraim or the Adora of 1 Macc.13.20 Mentioned as Adora by Apocrypha and often by Josephus. A weak letter is usually lost in Hebrew to Arabic sound conversion, such as in the case of Adoraim to Dura. A loss of a first feeble letter is not uncommon and the form of Dora could be found as early as in several instances of Josephus writings. The village was originally built on two hills: Dura al-‘Amaira and Dura al-Arjan possibly reflecting dual grammatical number of Adoraim name, which could also be a double village during antiquity.
Dura is an ancient place, where old cisterns and fragments of mosaics have been found. The settlement was mentioned in the Amarna letters as early as 14th century BC. and in the Anastasi Papyrus.
According to the biblical account, Adurim was fortified by Rehoboam (974 BC – 913 BC), King of the United Monarchy of Israel and later the King of the Kingdom of Judah, who was a son of Solomon and a grandson of David. Pharaoh Shoshenq conducted a military campaign into Canaan in 925 BC and lists the cities he conquered, number 19 in the list is "most probably" Adoraim, however due its grouping, researchers believe it to be a reference to another currently unknown locality further north in Israelite Kingdom. In the early 6th century BC the Babylonians attacked the Kingdom of Judah, the southern part of the country, from Adoraim near Hebron to Maresha and beyond, fell to the Edom.
Following the Alexander the Great's conquest, the village population of the ancient Palestine preserved their traditional way of life, however Jewish urban centers such as Adoraim exhibited a degree of hellenization. The settlement is mentioned in the Zenon Papyri in 259 BC as a "fortress city". In Adora, Simon Maccabeus stopped the advancing Diodotus Tryphon army in 142 BC. According to Josephus, John Hyrcanus captured the city after the death of Antiochus VII in 129 BC. The city inhabitants, who were alleged to have been of Esau's progeny (Idumeans), were forced to convert to Judaism during the reign of Hyrcanus, on the condition that they be allowed to remain in the country. In 63 BC Pompey conquered Judea. Adora became a chief place of Idumaea, Hebron no longer being important. The city is included in the list of cities rebuilt by the Roman consul Aulus Gabinius. It may have been the administrative center of the district of eastern Idumaea established by Gabinius, though other possibilities have been suggested.
A 1st century CE mansion, inhabited till First Jewish–Roman War (66-74 CE), was partially excavated near Dura, at Hirbet Moraq. The house, center of the estate, included bath and consistent of interior rooms surrounded by open courtyard and fronted by colonnades. According to inscription the house belonged to a Jewish family. This distinctive "introverted" house plan design developed in the area during hellenistic period. The city retained Jewish character until the end of the Bar Kokhba war (135 CE)
Mukaddasi, writing around 985 CE, noted that Palestine was famous for its vineyards and a type of raisin called Dūrī, said to be from Dura. According to Guy Le Strange, the city locality is in the Vale of Mamre mentioned in the story of The Twelve Spies who brought back to Moses large grapes of Eshkol as recorded in the Book of Numbers.
In 1517, the village was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire with the rest of Palestine. In 1596 it appeared in the tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Khalil of the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 49 Muslim households. The villagers paid a fixed tax rate of 33,3% on agricultural products, including on wheat, barley, olives, vines or fruit trees, and goats or beehives; a total of 10,000 akçe.
In 1834, Dura's inhabitants participated in an uprising against the Egyptian Ibrahim Pasha, who took over the area between 1831 and 1840. When Robinson visited in 1838, he described Dura as one of the largest villages in the area, and the residence of the Sheikhs of Ibn Omar, who had formerly ruled the area.
In 1863 the French explorer Victor Guérin visited the place, and noted that "Fragments of ancient columns, and a good number of cut stones taken from old constructions and built up in the Arab houses, show the antiquity of the place. Two barracks especially have been built in this way. Above the door of one, a block forming the lintel was once ornamented with mouldings, now very much mutilated. Close to the town is a celebrated wely in which lies a colossal sarcophagus, containing, it is said, the body of Noah."
An Ottoman village list from about 1870 found that Dura had a population of 420, in 144 houses, though the population count included men, only. In 1877 Lieutenant Kitchener had some boys publicly flogged in Dura following an incident when stones were thrown at a member of the Palestine Exploration Fund survey party.
In 1883, the PEF's Survey of Western Palestine described Dura as "A large and nourishing village on the flat slope of a hill, with open ground on the east for about a mile. This plain is cultivated with corn. To the north of Dura are a few olives, and others on the south. The houses are of stone. South of the village are two Mukams with white domes; and on the west, higher than the village, is the tomb of Neby Nuh (Prophet Noah). Near these there are rock-cut sepulchres. The place is well supplied from three springs on the east and one on the south."
British Mandate era
In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Dura was divided into Dura al-‘Amaira, with 2,565 inhabitants, and Dura al-Arjan, with 3,269 inhabitants; a total of 5,834, all Muslims. The report of the 1931 census wrote that "the village in the Hebron sub-district commonly known as Dura is a congeries of neighbouring localities each of which has a distinctive name; and, while Dura is a remarkable example of neighbourly agglutination, the phenomenon is not infrequent in other villages". The total of 70 locations listed in the report had 1538 inhabited houses and a population of 7255 Muslims.
In the 1945 statistics the population of Dura was 9,700, all Muslims, who owned 240,704 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey. 3,917 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 90,637 for cereals, while 226 dunams were built-up (urban) land. Dura village lands covered in this period an estimated 240 square kilometres (93 sq mi), which included 99 ruined settlement sites.
In 1961, the population of Dura was 3,852.
After the Palestinian National Authority was ceded control of the town in 1995, a local committee was set up to prevent land confiscation from the town and the municipal council was expanded. Many Palestinian ministries and governmental institutions opened offices in Dura, enhancing its role in Palestinian politics.
In 2011 the Dura International Stadium was renovated. It can hold up to 18,000 spectators and hosts national and international games.
The Dura Municipal Rehabilitation Center assists Palestinian Authority residents with special needs and developmental disabilities. Occupational therapy, visual rehabilitation for the seeing impaired, and outreach program are some of the services offered.
Dura has a public library, swimming pool, and a park which includes a children's theater.
In June 2014, during the search to find three kidnapped boys, 150 Israeli soldiers stormed Dura's Haninia neighbourhood in a dawn raid to detain a person, and were met by young men and boys throwing rocks. An Israeli soldier shot and killed a teenager who was among the rock throwers, 13 or 15-year-old Mohammed Dudeen.
The Israeli settlement of Adora, Har Hebron is located 4 kilometers north of the town in the Judean Mountains and has 462 inhabitants. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government and US government dispute this. The settlement community falls under the jurisdiction of Har Hebron Regional Council.
The climate of Dura is dry in the summers and experiences moderate precipitation during winter. Average annual precipitation depend on specific geographic locations within the town. The area of Dahr Alhadaba receives an annual average of 400–600 mm of rain, southern slopes 300–400 mm and the northern region of the Dura hills 250–300.
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- Dura municipality official website
- Welcome To The City of Dura
- Dura, Welcome to Palestine
- Survey of Western Palestine, Map 21: IAA, Wikimedia commons
- Dura Town (Fact Sheet), Applied Research Institute–Jerusalem (ARIJ)
- Dura Town Profile, ARIJ
- Dura Area Photo, ARIJ
- The priorities and needs for development in Dura town based on the community and local authorities' assessment, ARIJ
- 1946 survey with detailed plans.