Israel prohibited the Muslim call to prayer 298 times in the first half of this year at a historical mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. "Occupying Israeli forces prohibited the Azan, including calls to Friday prayer, at the Ibrahimi Mosque 298 times in the first six months of 2018," Palestinian Religious Endowments Minister Yousef Adais said Tuesday in a written statement that Israel was strengthening its presence at the mosque and closed it for two consecutive days using a Jewish festivals as an excuse. He also touched on violations committed by Jewish settlers.
"The immorality and violations of Jewish settlers have also crossed the line – so much so that they organized parties with music until midnight inside the Ibrahimi Mosque. They have also set up huge camps in the southern courtyard of the mosque," Adais said.
In June, dozens of Jewish settlers backed by Israeli police forced their way into the mosque, where they performed Talmudic rituals and held a music concert attended by senior Jewish rabbis and Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Arad. Adais added that Israel was also interrupting restoration work at the mosque and in its courtyard.
The Ibrahimi Mosque is located in Hebron's Old City district, which is home to some 160,000 Palestinian Muslims and about 500 Jewish settlers, with the latter living in a series of Jewish-only enclaves heavily guarded by Israeli troops. In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli-American Jewish settler, gunned down 29 Palestinian Muslims as they prayed at the mosque before being killed himself. Since then, the mosque, believed to have been built on the tomb of Prophet Ibrahim, has been divided into a Muslim section (45 percent) and a Jewish section (55 percent).