Ramallah (UNA-OIC) – Israeli forces Monday denied Palestinian worshippers access to the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, citing the Jewish holidays as a pretext.
WAFA correspondent reported that a large number of Israeli soldiers deployed in the vicinity of the mosque and around the old city, placing stifling restrictions on Palestinian movement and life, as illegal fanatic settlers were preparing to celebrate Yom Kippur.
Director of the mosque Hifthi Abu Sneineh told WAFA that the closure went into effect on Sunday afternoon and it would remain imposed until 10:00 P.M. on Monday, noting that the settlers set up tents in the area.
Member of the PLO Executive Committee Ahmad Tamimi slammed the closure as a “blatant infringement” upon Palestinians and Muslims’ human rights, including the right to freedom of worship.
A week ago, Israeli authorities closed the mosque for two days in a row in order to make way for Jewish settlers to celebrate Rosh Hashanah holiday, or the Jewish New Year.
Twenty-six years ago, Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein broke into the Ibrahimi Mosque and opened fire at Palestinian Muslim worshippers, killing 29. Four Palestinians were killed on the same day in the clashes that broke out around the Mosque in response to the massacre.
In the aftermath, the mosque, known to Jews as Tomb of the Patriarchs, was divided in two, with the larger part turned into a synagogue while heavy scrutiny was imposed on the Palestinians and areas closed completely to them, including an important market and the main street, Shuhada street.
An estimated 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers live under the protection of thousands of soldiers in Hebron’s city center. The city is home to over 30,000 Palestinians.
Israel uses the Jewish nationalist name “Judea and Samaria” to refer to the occupied West Bank to reinforce its bogus claims to the territory and to give them a veneer of historical and religious legitimacy.