The Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, today condemned the visit by former US Vice President, Mike Pence, to the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron.
In a statement, the Mufti said, “The Ibrahimi Mosque is an Islamic Mosque and a worship place for Muslims alone. What the US Vice President did was a provocative act and extremely dangerous. The occupation authorities bear its consequences.”
“What the US Vice President did is a provocative and dangerous act for which the Israeli occupation authorities bear the consequences,” he added.
Along with Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right Israeli lawmaker, and Baruch Marzel, who was banned from running for parliament elections due to his extreme racist views against Palestinians, Mike Pence toured the Ibrahimi Mosque, also known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs.
It is a highly contested site and was listed as a Palestinian UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017.
Israel has steadily taken control of the Mosque to facilitate worship by the small group of illegal Jewish settlers who have moved into the centre of the Old City at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. Access to the Mosque for Muslim worship is controlled tightly by the occupation authorities and, on occasion, is banned altogether.
According to Wafa News Agency, Sheikh Hussein also condemned the excavation and construction work carried out by the Israeli authorities in the courtyards of the Ibrahimi Mosque, which he said aims to build an elevator “to facilitate the extremist settlers’ incursions into the Mosque, in addition to changing the Mosque’s features.”
He called on the Arab and Islamic countries and international institutions to take urgent action “to protect religious holy sites in the occupied Palestinian territories and prevent the takeover of the Ibrahimi Mosque and any changes to its Islamic features.”