Israeli Occupation Forces are installing a stone checkpoint at the entrance of the Ibrahimi mosque to restrict Palestinians from entering it to visit and pray. As Hebron Rehabilitation Committee’s General Manager, Imad Hamdan, illustrated the new checkpoint will be made of stone in a permanent-style in front of the historic holy site, which will affect the fabric of the building and the community. This development came from the Israeli Shamghar committee which also recommended the division of the mosque into two parts following the massacre of Palestinians in the Ibrahimi mosque in 1994. Subsequent to the division of the mosque, the holy site fell under tight control by Israeli security and surveillance. These developments were catastrophic to Palestinians and to the old city, as it is a religiously, historically and culturally significant. It is the Palestinian Authority’s responsibility to defend, maintain and combat Israeli policies aimed at colonizing the Ibrahimi mosque and Palestinian lands.
Checkpoints are used by the Israeli military to deter Palestinian residents from coming to and living in the Old City of Hebron, restrict their movements and devastate the rights of the local population. Military checkpoints around the Ibrahimi Mosque are placed strategically by Israeli forces to expel Muslim worshippers from the area and increase Israeli presence in and around the Mosque.
In the Old City of Hebron 18 checkpoints currently exist, in addition to more than 130 other access restrictions, which the Israeli military claim are in place in order to provide “security” to the 600 illegal settlers living in the city center and the thousands living nearby. However, in actuality, checkpoints are one of many tools used by the Israeli military to humiliate the local Palestinian population, appropriate large portions of Hebron’s Old City, and create a closure and expansion policy to ensure Jewish-only areas.
The restriction of rights and collective oppression of Palestinians in the Old City of Hebron must stop. The installation of another checkpoint in the Ibrahimi Mosque area would only increase current tensions and further the ongoing cycle of violence and expulsion against Palestinians in the area.
Hebron Rehabilitation Committee deplores Israeli plans to further oppress the local Palestinian population by installing a new checkpoint in Hebron’s Old City near the holy site of the Ibrahimi Mosque. HRC calls upon diplomats, UN representatives, and NGOs to use all means available to pressure the Israeli government to halt plans to install another checkpoint, abide by international laws and recognize the human rights of Palestinians. It is the duty of the international community to ensure universal human rights for Palestinians by taking tangible political, diplomatic and economic steps to hold Israel accountable.