The quarantine center established in the West Bank city of Hebron (al-Khalil) during the Ottoman period still continues to provide health services to people as a polyclinic. Built in 1848 during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid, the son of Mahmud II, the center called “Tahaffuzhane” meaning quarantine center, comes to the forefront as a historical building still providing carefully prepared sickrooms and recovery rooms.
Talib Gibran, an official from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Historical Artifacts, said in a statement that the building of the quarantine center suggests that it was an important building in the Ottoman period. Gibran stated that the square building has a courtyard and rooms for different uses.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), professor Shawkat Hejja from the Faculty of History at Hebron University, also noted that there is an inscription on the main door of the building stating that it was built in 1848 during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid.
Emphasizing that the building is a perfect Ottoman structure with its interior and exterior features, Hejja stated: “Such facilities were built to combat epidemics in Europe and on Arabian territories. However, this structure in Hebron is thought to be the second facility of its kind in the Arab world after a similar one was built in Damascus in 1834.”
Hejja said the structure was originally called "Tahaffuzhane," and in other regions, it is known as "Es-Saraya," which means government building. He added that the dome and arches of the historical building built in the form of a castle make this structure unique.
According to Hejja, the structure was used as a quarantine center and government building in the past. The building, which was converted into a health care center during the British mandate period about a hundred years ago, continues to serve with many facilities today.
Tahaffuzhane Director Dr. Mahmoud Bashir Duwaik stated that at the time of its construction, the building was used to determine whether the people who came to Hebron had possible infectious diseases.
Duwaik noted that those who had no health problems left the center while those who showed signs of illness were quarantined in special rooms in the southern part of the building. “The building is divided into two parts by the garden. In the southern part, there are quarantine rooms, which are completely closed at the present. It is not known what is in them. The rooms in the northern part were used to allow those who had recovered to spend their convalescent period,” he said.
Duwaik said there was a large cemetery outside the castle for the burial of the deceased, continuing: “The building is currently used as a clinic under the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The building still retains its historical value and beauty.”
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