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Israel to close Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslims Monday

Aug. 24, 2014 3:19 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 26, 2014 11:17 A.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- The Israeli authorities will close the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslim worshipers on Monday for a Jewish holiday, the Hebron office of the Palestinian Ministry of Endowments said Sunday.

In a statement released Sunday, the ministry's office quoted the chief guard of the Ibrahimi Mosque as saying that the mosque will be "completely at the disposal of settlers who will perform religious Jewish rituals" to mark the beginning of the new Hebrew month of Elul.

Hebron is a frequent site of tensions due to the presence of 500 Israeli settlers in the Old City, many of whom have illegally occupied Palestinian houses and forcibly removed the original inhabitants. They are protected by thousands of Israeli forces.

In 1994, an Israeli settler opened fire on Muslim worshipers in the Ibrahimi Mosque, killing 29 and injuring more than 100 Palestinians.

Settlers and Israeli forces regularly target local Palestinians for harassment, and many have been forced from their homes as a result.

A 1997 agreement split Hebron into areas of Palestinian and Israeli control.

The Israeli military-controlled H2 zone includes the ancient Old City, home of the revered Ibrahimi Mosque -- also split into a synagogue referred to as the Cave of the Patriarchs -- and the once thriving Shuhada street, now just shuttered shops fronts and closed homes.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
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