In celebration of the biblical Days of Repentance, hundreds of Israeli settlers stormed the Ibrahimi Mosque, then held a loud concert, and performed Talmudic dances inside the mosque, amid heavy protection by Israeli forces in a scene described as a “provocation to Muslims” and a “flagrant violation of places of worship”.
Photos and videos circulating on social media over the past few days have shown large numbers of settlers swaying to loud singing and music being blasted from loudspeakers, by what looks like musical bands led by a singer, while more of them were praying in the courtyards of the mosque.
The Israeli authorities had closed the entrances to the mosque to Palestinians a week ago under the pretext of Jewish holidays, turning it into a kind of military barracks in preparation for the entry of settlers.
“A flagrant violation of places of worship”
Commenting on what the settlers have done, the director of the Hebron Endowments, Nidal al-Jabari, told the Palestinian News and Information Agency - WAFA. “The settlers organizing a loud concert, and them being allowed to bring in musical instruments and loudspeakers, comes at a time when Palestinians are not allowed to bring in the supplies necessary for maintenance and restoration, and media professionals are not allowed to bring in their cameras except in prior coordination with the occupation.”
In celebration of the biblical Days of Repentance, hundreds of Israeli settlers storm the Ibrahimi Mosque, hold a loud concert, and perform Talmudic dances inside the mosque, in a scene described as a “provocation to Muslims”
Al-Jabari added that all this “falls within the framework of the occupation’s settlement policy and its quest to impose full control on the mosque”, noting that the Israeli forces are “exchanging roles with the settlers” in this process.
He described the incident as “a flagrant violation of places of worship and the privacy of Muslims, which must be curbed with all force,” appealing to Palestinians to “flock to the mosque“ and the Palestinian leadership “to have ambassadors, consuls, and all human rights and humanitarian associations let the world know what is going on.”
In al-Jabari’s view, there are goals beyond the “continuous operations to Judaize” the mosque, including “broadcasting photos of settlers dancing inside and outside it in complete comfort and relaxation” for the purpose of “reaching the stage of displacing Palestinian citizens from the places that the occupation wants to control in ancient Hebron in particular.”
On social media, Palestinians and Arabs described what happened as a “provocation to the feelings of Muslims,” a “violation of the sanctity of mosques” and a “chilling scene”, while warning that it could result in “a comprehensive popular uprising that establishes the demise of the occupation and the liberation of the stolen land and holy sites.”
They stressed that “after its time-space division, the mosque is violated on every holiday of the occupation, as settlers fully get to have it to themselves and Muslims are not allowed to enter it during their celebrations”, warning that “full time-space division is a danger that threatens the al-Aqsa Mosque as well” with the same fate at the present time.
Between its attempts to “change the historical and cultural features of the mosque” and the “almost daily attacks by settlers” on it... How does Israel seek to “impose complete hegemony” on the Ibrahimi Mosque? And what does that portend?
The Ibrahimi Mosque and the settlers
According to WAFA, the daily attacks, racist practices, and violations by armed settlers on the Ibrahimi Mosque are “ongoing and take place on a near-daily basis” under the protection of the Israeli authorities, which “has closed the courtyards and the park of the Ibrahimi Mosque for decades and is forcing Palestinians to pass through military checkpoints in order to perform their religious rites” there.
In addition to the restrictions on Muslim worshippers, WAFA says that Israel seeks to “change the historical and civilizational features of the holy mosue, by building a road and carrying out excavations with its heavy machinery near the mosque and its western courtyards”, in a “serious attack on the landmarks of the mosque and an attack on the freedom of worship in it as a mosque. It is for Muslims only, and no one else has the right to dispute it” in accordance with all relevant international conventions and treaties.
Although the mosque’s management and the responsibility for looking after its courtyards rests with the Palestinian Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, and the Hebron Municipality and its reconstruction committee, an Israeli court issued two military orders two years ago that would subject it to its direct authority.
Israel took advantage of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994 to cut off more than half of the mosque and allocate it to settlers while completely closing it to Muslims during the Jewish holidays. This time-space division reinforced the settler attacks
The first order, issued on May 12, 2020, concerns the construction of a winding road leading to the Ibrahimi Mosque through its outer courtyards. The second is related to the approval of a permit to build an elevator in the Ibrahimi Mosque, claiming that it is exploiting humanitarian cases, while Palestinians insist that it is another “settlement decision” to facilitate the access of settlers to it as part of attempts to “judaize the mosque”.
The “temporal and spatial division” that Israel imposed on the Ibrahimi Mosque, taking advantage of the 1994 massacre that took place there, had contributed to the reinforcement of settler attacks and incursions into the mosque.
During the early hours of dawn on the 15th day of Ramadan that year, a settler named Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Palestinians while they were praying in the mosque, killing 29 worshippers and injuring 135 others, before worshippers were able to overcome Goldstein and kill him. Immediately following the massacre, which was later dubbed the “Ibrahimi Mosque massacre”, the occupation closed the doors of the mosque, trapped Palestinian worshippers inside, and did not allow any ambulance or emergency response service to enter in order to help the wounded. Israeli soldiers also shot at mourners the next day, which resulted in the death toll rising to 50.
Following the massacre, and despite the UN Security Council’s endorsement of a resolution condemning the massacre and calling for measures to protect Palestinians, including the disarmament of the settlers, Israel decided to cut off more than half of the mosque and allocate it to settlers while closing it completely to Muslims during the Jewish holidays.