The Palestinian Authority (PA) has called for action against the Israeli occupation authorities’ decision to close the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Hebron for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
Undersecretary of the Palestinian Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, Husam Abu Al-Rob, said the Ibrahimi Mosque needs to be “rescued” to bring an end to all the damage that is inflicted on it on a daily basis.
The occupation’s policies regarding the Ibrahimi Mosque are “provocative, with malicious ambitions and intentions”, Al-Rob warned, adding that there have been 52 incidents in the past month in which the call to prayer was prevented at the Muslim holy site.
He described the closure of the site and its “desecration” by “settlers” as “a blatant attack on Muslims and every Islamic site.”
Al-Rob stated that Israel seeks to take full control of the mosque and regularly increases Jewish access to it.
Last month, Israeli authorities closed the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslim worshippers for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.
Last year 15,000 settlers stormed the Ibrahimi Mosque ahead of Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement”. The Jewish holiday begins this evening and lasts 24 hours.
The Ibrahimi Mosque, believed to be the burial place of the Prophet Abraham, is sacred to both Muslims and Jews and has been the site of oft-violent tensions for decades.
The holy site was split into a synagogue – known to Jews as the Cave of Patriarchs – and a mosque after US-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994.
The Israeli occupation “expropriated” large areas of the Ibrahimi Mosque and allocated it for Jewish use only following the 25 February 1994 massacre of Muslim worshippers by a settler. US-born Israeli Baruch Goldstein walked into the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron armed with a Galil assault rifle.
Goldstein opened fire at the hundreds of Muslim worshippers who were at the mosque during Ramadan, the month of fasting. 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.
In response, Israeli occupation forces set up a “closed military zone” around the mosque, restricting Muslim access to it, and “annexed” a large area of it for settler use.