HEBRON, July 24, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli army forces Sunday began the construction of permanent cement rooms at the entrance of al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the old city of Hebron to serve as surveillance and inspection rooms instead of the portable checkpoints and wire fences.
Hebron’s Rehabilitation committee said in a press release that the construction of the cement rooms in the place of what were a wire fence and portable checkpoints is an indication that this change will be permanent.
The cement rooms will serve as inspection and surveillance rooms where soldiers will be stationed and where Palestinian worshipers and visitors will have to go through in order to enter into the Mosque.
The committee denounced this decision and said it aims to change the face of the Mosque and the yards and restrict Palestinian worshippers’ movement and access.
It would increase the isolation of the old city in a way that contradicts all international laws, which guarantee freedom of movement and worship, it argued.
The committee also said that the changes constitute a violation because it is considered an attempt to change a historic, cultural and religious site.
The people of Hebron called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to interfere to stop such grave violations and demanded legal bodies, culture organizations and UNESCO to put an end to the Israeli violations, which aim to change the face of Hebron’s old city.
Al-Ibrahimi Mosque is located in the old city of Hebron, few hundred meters away from the part of the city illegally occupied by hundreds of Israeli settlers, who are protected by about 1,500 Israeli soldiers.
Since 1967, al-Ibrahimi Mosque, like all other Muslim holy sites in Palestine, became a target for the Israeli occupying forces and settlers.
In 1994, Israel divided al-Ibrahimi Mosque between Muslims and Jews, after an Israeli settler gunned down 29 Palestinian worshipers during dawn prayer during the last days of Ramadan.
Baruch Goldstein, an extremist settler from the illegal settlement of ‘Kiryat Arba’ settlement, who holds US and Israeli citizenships, opened machine-gun fire at Muslim worshippers during prayer.
He killed 29 people and injured 135. On the same day outside the Mosque, the Israeli army opened fire towards fearful and panicky worshippers and killed at least ten civilians.
Following the incident, al-Ibrahimi Mosque was converted into a military post and later divided into two parts, one for Muslims and another for Jews. Thus the Mosque became a point of conflict and constant tension that has marred its sanctity.
Nowadays, Israel controls Palestinians’ access to the Mosque, prevents many from praying inside on a regular basis and frequently bans the call for prayer under the pretext of disturbing the settlers.
The Hebron Wqaf Directorate said that the policy of banning Muslims’ call for prayer is aimed at tightening the noose on Palestinians and stopping them from praying in the Mosque, subsequently driven them away from their city.