28 Years On… Palestinians Remember Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre Perpetrated by Extremist Israelis

28 Years On… Palestinians Remember Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre Perpetrated by Extremist Israelis

On Feb. 25, 1994, during dawn prayer, hundreds of Palestinians were attacked in mass shootings and bombings at the Ibrahimi Mosque. The gruesome attack left 29 worshippers dead and dozens wounded. (File photo)

On Friday, February 25, Palestinians marked the 28th anniversary of the notorious Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, perpetrated by extremist Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank city of AlKhalil.

It was early morning during the holy month of Ramadan, and hundreds of Palestinians were gathered inside, bowed in prayer. Baruch Goldstein, who had emigrated to Israel in 1983 and lived in the Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of the city, opened fire at worshipers as they kneeled down. He reloaded at least once, continuing his barrage for as long as possible before finally being overpowered and eventually beaten to death. By the time he was stopped, 29 worshippers were killed, and more than a hundred had been injured.

Following the brutal killings, the Israeli authorities imposed military rule on the Old City of Hebron, which affected the religious, social and economic life of the people there.

The Israeli government claimed Goldstein acted alone and was psychologically disturbed. Palestinians, however, say the attack was planned by a group of Jewish settlers with indirect assistance from the Israeli army, who was not at the scene during the massacre.

Goldstein was a supporter of the extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, an Orthodox Jewish American known for his ultra-nationalist ideology and for founding the Kach party in 1971. Kach advocated the forcible removal of Palestinians from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

Muslims attach great value to the Ibrahimi Mosque, as they believe it was built above the tomb of Prophet Ibrahim (Prophet Abraham).

After the massacre, 60% of the total area of the mosque was converted into a Jewish synagogue protected by metal barriers and military barracks and reaching it became more difficult and complicated for Muslims.

Palestinian NGO Youth Against Settlements estimates that the Israeli measures in the heart of Hebron have caused the closure of all 1,800 shops in the Old City, 530 of which were closed on orders from the Israeli army.

According to the NGO, about 800 Israeli settlers are living in the heart of Hebron in five settlement outposts. At least 400 settlers permanently reside in the Old City in addition to 300 who study in a religious school.

At the main entrance of the mosque, there is another military checkpoint where soldiers check the identities of worshippers.

The Hebron Protocol, which Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed in 1997, divided the city into two areas: H1, which constitutes about 80% of the city’s residential area in which the Palestinian Authority assumes its responsibilities, and H2 in which Israel retains all powers and responsibilities, including over the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Old City.

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