RAMALLAH, Palestine: The Israeli army Friday attacked Palestinian worshipers with sound bombs after they performed Friday prayers at Ibrahimi Mosque in the center of Hebron city in the occupied West Bank.
About 5,000 Palestinians responded to the invitation of the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs to perform prayers at the mosque to show rejection of the Israeli projects aimed at changing its features.
Sheikh Hefzy Abu Sneina, director of the mosque, said the occupation forces intensified their presence at the gates of the mosque after the Friday prayers and used gas and sound bombs to disperse the worshipers.
“More than 5,000 Palestinians performed the Friday prayers in the mosque,” Abu Sneina told Anadolu Agency.
Abu Sneina said that accepting the invitation to perform the Friday prayers in the mosque “shows Muslims’ affiliation with the Ibrahimi Mosque.”
On Thursday, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs announced the closure of all the mosques in the city of Hebron and asked the worshipers to perform the Friday prayers at Ibrahimi Mosque as a “denouncement” of the occupation measures there.
Before the influx of worshipers to the mosque, the occupation army reinforced its forces in the vicinity and at its entrances, spreading iron berms in its courtyard and checking the identities of worshipers and journalists.
An eyewitness told Anadolu Agency the occupation forces allowed the worshipers to enter the mosque one by one, resulting in congestion at the pre-existing barriers leading to the mosque.
Prayers in the mosque are usually subject to strict security restrictions as worshipers must pass several barriers and electronic gates before reaching the stairs leading to the place of prayer.
The Israeli Defense Ministry said Monday it has started a project at the mosque’s courtyards to construct a route that directly links the parking area to the mosque and install an electric elevator.
The Palestinian Ministry of Endowments said the goal of the project is to “Judaize” the mosque and facilitate the settlers’ intrusion into it.
History of Ibrahimi Mosque
Revered by both Muslims and Jews, Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque complex is believed to be the burial site of the prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
After the 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers inside the mosque by a Jewish extremist settler, Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli authorities divided the mosque complex between Muslim and Jewish worshippers.
UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided in July 2017 to include Ibrahimi Mosque and the old city of Hebron on its World Heritage List.
Hebron is home to roughly 160,000 Palestinian Muslims and about 500 Jewish settlers. The latter live in a series of Jewish-only enclaves heavily guarded by Israeli troops.
Under the Hebron Agreement signed in 1997 between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel, the city was divided into two areas – H1 subject to Palestinian control and H2 under Israeli control. It is estimated that 20% of the city’s area, in which the old city and Ibrahimi Mosque are located, is in H2.-AA