Hebron marks, on Sunday, 24 years since the Ibrahimi mosque massacre took place, when an Israeli settler opened fire at Muslims observing the dawn prayers on a Ramadan morning, killing 29 worshipers and injuring 150 others before he was caught and killed by the crowds.
The settler, an American-Israeli physician identified as Barouch Goldstein, who resided in the ultra-fanatic Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron, walked into the mosque as a large number of Muslim Ramadan worshippers, mainly elderly, were praying and opened fire at random from his Israeli army-issued machine gun leading to the large number of deaths and injuries.
To make matters worse, Israeli soldiers, who were in the vicinity of the mosque, closed the doors to the mosque and prevented the worshippers from running for their lives. They also prevented people from outside to enter it to help in evacuating the dead and wounded.
Residents who wanted to reach the mosque, and those inside, fought with the soldiers, leaving an additional number dead and injured. Later, related violence raised the number of Palestinians killed on that day to 50, in Hebron alone, and to 60, adding those killed in confrontations that broke out elsewhere in the West Bank, against Israeli occupation forces.
WAFA additionally reports that, immediately following the massacre, Israel decided to punish the victims by closing down the old town of Hebron, where the Ibrahimi mosque is located, for six months. An all-Israeli committee was formed to probe the massacre, instead of punishing the settlers, to divide the mosque between Muslims and Jews, and to close down several commercial streets, most famously Shuhada Street, which remains closed for Palestinians until today. Army checkpoints were also set up to restrict the movement of Palestinians, while Israeli settlers continued to move freely and without any restrictions.
The new facts on the ground created after the massacre to punish the victims are still in place until today.
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.