HEBRON, Wednesday, January 20, 2021 (WAFA) – Israeli forces today extended the closure of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern West Bank city of Hebron for another week, according to sources.
The Mosque Director, Hefzi Abu Sneineh told WAFA that the Israeli authorities extended the closure of the mosque for another week, banning the entry of Palestinian worshipers and visitors to the holy site purportedly as a precautionary measure to curb the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, the holy site was closed for 13 days under the same pretext.
Abu Sneineh noted that the Israeli authorities use flimsy excuses to close the mosque whenever they want, and according to what serves their interests.
Twenty two 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.
The city of Hebron, which houses the Ibrahimi Mosque, is home to roughly 160,000 Palestinian Muslims and about 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers who live in compounds heavily guarded by Israeli troops.
Israel has expelled the only international monitors protecting Hebron’s Palestinians from 800 heavily guarded settlers, one of whom committed the 1994 massacre that triggered their deployment.
Such Israeli measures, taken under the guise of security, are intended to entrench Israel’s 53-year-old military occupation of the West Bank and its settler colonial project which it enforces with routine and frequently deadly violence against Palestinians.