Israeli authorities informed Muslim officials in Hebron that the Ibrahimi Mosque, also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, will be closed to Muslim worshippers on Sunday and Monday, Hijazi Abu Sneineh, director of the mosque said, Sunday. According to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency, the mosque will be open only to Jews who will be celebrating the Jewish Passover holiday, while Muslims will not be permitted access to pray as usual at the holy Mosque.

While both members of the faith attend separate prayer areas inside the mosque during normal times, Israel closes it for Muslims during Jewish holidays and for Jews during Muslim holidays.

The director considered this Israeli measure an assault and desecration of Muslim holy sites and Muslim sovereignty considering that the mosque was illegally taken over from Muslims.

Al Ibrahimi Mosque is located in the old city of Hebron, few hundred meters away from the part of the city illegally occupied by around 400 extremist 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 Zionist settlers, reported the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee.

In 1994, Israel divided al-Ibrahimi Mosque between Muslims and Jews, after an Israeli settler gunned down 30 Palestinians during dawn prayer.

Baruch Goldstein, an extremist settler from the illegal settlement of ‘Kiryat Arba’ settlement, who holds US and Israeli citizenship, 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 there on a regular basis and frequently bans the call for prayer under the pretext of disturbing the settlers.

The control is not only restricted to prayer at the mosque, but also calls for prayers through speakers. In January 2015 alone, the call for prayer was banned 51 times.

The Hebron Awqaf 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.

On a different note, Israeli forces Sunday closed down Bi’r Sabe’ street in central Hebron and prevented Palestinian residents’ movements in the area under the pretext of securing Israeli settlers’ celebrations of Jewish Passover.

Witnesses informed WAFA that Israeli forces closed down the street, as well as all Palestinian shops in the nearby city’s commercial center and restricted residents’ movement in the area under the pretext of securing Israeli settlers’ celebrations of Passover on Sunday and Monday.

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