Israel shuts Ibrahimi Mosque to Palestinian worshippers but allows settler entry
Israel has banned Muslim worshippers from praying at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
Israeli authorities used the Jewish New Year as a pretext for their actions, adding that the religious site would remain open to Israeli settlers living in the occupied Palestinian city.
Mosque director Sheikh Hafthi Abu Sneineh said Israeli forces blocked Palestinians from accessing the place of worship, including the courtyards, but illegal settlers were permitted to prepare for their holiday at the site.
The decision was condemned by Palestinian officials, who judged the move to be an attack on basic human rights.
"A flagrant affront to the feelings of Arabs and Muslims, a grave breach of the freedom of worship and a blatant violation of international human rights charters and conventions," Ahmad Tamimi, head of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's human rights department said.
The site, also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, was once a site used solely by Muslim worshippers, but following a 1994 massacre by an Israeli settler, which killed 29 worshippers, the site was split, and the movements of Palestinians was restricted.
Palestine's second-holiest mosque was recently attacked by Israeli forces, who fired tear gas and stun grenades at worshippers as they left the mosque following Friday prayers.
Israelis have been accused of working to "Judaise" the holy Islamic West Bank site, with building efforts including installing a lift that is exclusively for Israeli settlers to use.
With the start of the Jewish New Year, which began on Monday, Hamas urged Palestinians to rally and protect holy sites in the occupied territories, and resist Israeli incursions.
"We call on our people everywhere to gather and escalate activities rejecting incursions that are guarded by occupation army and police," Mohammed Hamada, a Hamas spokesperson, said.
The Old City of Hebron, in which the Ibrahimi Mosque is located, was deemed a World Heritage Site in 2017 by UNESCO.
Both Muslims and Jews believe the mosque is the site where the Prophet Abraham, Ibrahim in Arabic, is buried.