Days of Palestine – Hebron
Twenty-seven years ago, on February 25, 1994, an Israeli settler randomly opened fire at Muslims worshippers observing the dawn prayers on a Ramadan morning at the Ibrahimi Mosque in southern West Bank city of Hebron, killing 29 worshippers and injuring 150 others before he was caught and killed by the crowds.
The settler, an American-Israeli physician identified as Barouch Goldstein, 42, who resided in the ultra-fanatic Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron, walked into the mosque as a large number of Muslim worshippers, mainly elderly, were praying and opened fire randomly from his Israeli army-issued machine gun leading to the large number of deaths and injuries.
After several minutes of shooting, 29 worshippers were killed and 150 others were wounded before people were able to overcome the murderer and end his life.
As if this was not enough, Israeli soldiers on that day killed an additional 21 Palestinians who took to the streets in the occupied territories to protest the massacre in Hebron.
Instead of taking action against the extremist settlers in Hebron, particularly in the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron where Goldstein lived, by removing them from Hebron, the Israeli authorities punished the victims, the Palestinians.
After the massacre, the Israeli military divided the Ibrahimi mosque into two sectors: Jewish settlers and visitors have exclusive access to more than half of the site, including all of the surrounding gardens.
The mosque was closed for six months after the incident to be opened divided between Muslims and Jews when for centuries it was a purely Muslim worship place.
At the same time, Palestinians in areas in the heart of Hebron where settlers had set up illegal bases were restricted in movement and shops were forced to shut down. Entire streets became off Limit to Palestinians while Jewish settlers were allowed to roam them freely and under heavy army protection.
According to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, in Hebron “Palestinians living in the area are subjected to extreme restrictions on their movement by car or on foot – including the closure of main streets – while settlers are free to go where they wish.”
This situation is continuing until today, and it has even become worse.