Al-Khalil-Hebron: Ibrahimi Mosque closed by Israeli forces for second day in a row

A view of Ibrahimi Mosque and an Israeli soldier patrolling the area are seen in Al-Khalil-Hebron (Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  September 21, 2020

Israeli occupation forces have closed the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Al-Khalil- Hebron for the second day in a row during the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, Wafa news agency has reported.

Muslim worshippers were again prevented from attending the mosque for daily prayers.

The director of the mosque slammed Israel’s latest violation of human rights conventions which guarantee the right to religious freedom. Sheikh Hifthi Abu Sneineh told Wafa that the occupation authorities closed the mosque on Saturday night in order to make way for illegal settlers.

The Old City of Al-Kahlil-Hebron includes the Ibrahimi Mosque which is known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017.

The Ibrahimi Mosque was closed from early March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It reopened in May, along with the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The mosque is believed to be the burial place of Prophets Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their wives, and is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. It has been the site of tension for decades, not least because the Israeli occupation authorities have taken over more and more of the central prayer hall for use by illegal settlers.

In February 1994, one settler shot and killed 29 Muslims as they were praying. Baruch Goldstein wore his Israel Defence Forces uniform and used his army issue gun to carry out the mass murder. Survivors of his murderous attack beat him to death. Goldstein’s grave in the nearby illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba has become a shrine for settlers.

In total, more than 200,000 Palestinians live in Al-Khalil-Hebron, compared with just a few hundred illegal settlers who are not only fully armed but also protected by a massive Israeli army presence.