Thousands of Jewish settlers stormed the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Friday in order to perform "Talmudic rituals" therein, Felesteen newspaper has reported. Several other reports have been made about what is described as the extremists' "desecration" of the Islamic site.
According to Israeli Channel 7 TV, the settlers "visited the Tomb of the Patriarch in Hebron and wandered around its yards under heavy protection of the Israeli army." Both Muslims and Jews believe that Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) is buried in the mosque, which is an ancient religious site in Hebron's Old City. Although extremist Jews claim that it is a "Jewish place", prior to Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank, there was no Jewish presence in Hebron.
In February 1994, an extremist Jew, Baruch Goldstein, entered the Ibrahimi Mosque at dawn and killed 30 Palestinians as they stood in prayer. Ever since then, the Israeli occupation authorities have gradually taken over more and more of the prayer hall for use by the Jewish settlers. A disproportionately large contingent of the Israeli army is stationed in the Old City to protect the extremists. The resultant checkpoints and disruption make it very difficult for Palestinians to attend the mosque and go about their daily lives.
Extremist settlers have stormed into the mosque on a number of occasions and harassed worshippers inside. The authorities have also banned the call to prayer. Such restrictions and harassment are seen as the precursor of what can be expected at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. Indeed, regular incursions by settlers already take place at Al-Aqsa, under the protection of the Israeli army.