Israel bans Muslims from Ibrahimi Mosque

A view of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil-Hebron (Mamoun Wazwaz - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  September 8, 2021

Israeli occupation forces have banned Muslims from praying at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron/Al-Khalil as Jews mark their New Year, Wafa news agency has reported.

The Muslim holy site, however, remains open for Israeli settlers.

The decision was condemned by Palestinian officials, who described the move as an attack on basic human rights and a violation of freedom of worship.

Director of the Ibrahimi Mosque Sheikh Hafthi Abu Sneinah told Wafa that Israeli forces denied Palestinians access to the holy site along with its courtyards as the illegal settlers were preparing to mark the Jewish New Year holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

“A flagrant affront to the feelings of Arabs and Muslims, a grave breach of the freedom of worship and a blatant violation of international human rights charters and conventions,” Ahmad Tamimi, head of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s human rights department, said.

The Old City of 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 Palestine in 2017.

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