AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Thousands of Israeli settlers stormed at dawn Friday the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil and performed Talmudic rituals under the protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).
The Israeli settlers have intensified during the past two days their break-ins into the Mosque in coincidence with the Jewish New Year.
Earlier Thursday, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) imposed tough security restrictions on Palestinian movement in al-Khalil’s Old City.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) warned that the Israeli Occupation Forces aim to impose further control over the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil by changing its features under the pretext of security.
According to the council, the Ibrahimi Mosque (Cave of the Patriarchs) is a major Palestinian historical, architectural, and archaeological site. Al-Khalil Rehabilitation Committee has helped preserve the site since 1996. Moreover, the old town of the city, including the Ibrahimi Mosque, is registered on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage sites in Palestine.
On February 25, 1994, an Israeli settler known as Baruch Goldstein, wearing his army uniform and carrying his army-issued assault rifle, walked past Israeli soldiers manning a checkpoint and into the Ibrahimi Mosque. It was the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims and there were 400 or 500 Palestinian men praying.
According to reports, once inside, Goldstein observed the scene and waited until those present knelt to pray before opening fire.
Twenty-nine Palestinians were killed and some 150 wounded before Goldstein’s victims subdued him and beat him to death.
Following the massacre, the Israeli government imposed a series of security measures across al-Khalil. The Ibrahimi Mosque itself was divided, with Muslim access reduced from the entire space to around 40 percent of the site. The other 60 percent was allocated to Jewish worshippers, who accessed the site from a separate entrance.
Instead of offering a hand to those who were killed and injured, the Israelis gave the settlers more space and access to the mosque. It was as if they were rewarding the murderers.