Hebron/Al-Khalil – remembering the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre of 1994

Baruch Goldstein (File)

WAFA   /  February 25, 2022

Ramallah – On this day in 1994, a US-born Israeli military physician walked into the Ibrahimi mosque in Al-Khalil/Hebron armed with a Galil assault rifle. It was early morning during the holy month of Ramadan, and hundreds of Palestinians were gathered inside, bowed in prayer.

Baruch Goldstein, who had emigrated to Israel in 1983, lived in the Kiryat Arba Jewish settlement on the outskirts of the city. As worshippers kneeled, Goldstein opened fire. He reloaded at least once, continuing his barrage for as long as possible before finally being overpowered and eventually beaten to death. By the time he was stopped, 29 worshippers were killed, and more than a hundred had been injured.

The Israeli government immediately released a statement condemning the act and stating that Goldstein acted alone and was psychologically disturbed.

The massacre was widely reported in the international media – but many Palestinians here continue believe that the full story has never been told.

The 29 people killed inside the mosque were not the only martyrs that day.

After the initial attack inside the mosque, more Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army during protests outside the mosque, outside Al-Khalil/Hebron’s Ahli hospital, and even in the local cemetery as the dead were being buried.

Goldstein was a supporter of the extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, an Orthodox Jewish American known for his ultra-nationalist ideology and for founding the Kach party in 1971. Kach advocated the forcible removal of Palestinians from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

For Palestinians, the massacre was indicative of the danger posed by Israel’s illegal settlement project. Daily life for Palestinians in Al-Khalil/Hebron, particularly in the Old City, has since become unbearable, with Al-Shuhada street remaining closed and settler violence against Palestinians a regular occurrence.