Israeli Defence Minister enters Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron under police protection

Amina Zaineldine, Tuesday 11 Aug 2015

Ibrahimi Mosque
File Photo: Israeli Border Police officers stand guard outside the site known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque and to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron, February 2011 (Photo: AP)

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon, accompanied by tight security, entered Hebron's Ibrahimi mosque on Tuesday, MENA official news agency reported.

No one was allowed to enter or exit the southern West Bank mosque while Ya'alon was present for half an hour.

Ya'alon's presence at the Ibrahimi Mosque prompted outrage by Muslim worshippers who were in the mosque at the time.

The director of the Ibrahimi mosque, Monzer Abou El Felat, denounced the act and stated that it is part of Israeli occupation politics to convert this mosque into a synagogue.

"The Ibrahimi mosque is an Islamic site and is unrelated to Judaism and all the measures taken during the raid were unlawful and illegitimate," Abou El Felat stated.

According to Wafa Palestinian news agency, Israeli occupation forces decided to close the Ibrahimi mosque to Muslim worshippers while keeping it open for Israelis as of 10 pm on Wednesday until 10 pm on Thursday for a Jewish holiday.

Earlier in March 2015, former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also entered the Ibrahimi Mosque. Lieberman claimed, however, that the visit was part of his election campaign in order to highlight its "Jewish identity," the Palestinian information center reported.

The Ibrahimi mosque, also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, is the fourth holiest site in Islam after the two holy mosques in Saudi Arabia and Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The site is also considered sacred in Judaism, as the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people, including Abraham and Sarah, are believed to be buried there.

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