Israeli forces attack worshippers at Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron
Israeli security forces used stun grenades to disperse a crowd of Muslim worshippers performing traditional Friday prayers outside the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.
At least one person could be seen thrown onto the ground and kicked by Israeli forces. It was not immediately clear what sparked the violence.
Sheikh Hefzy Abu Sneina, director of the mosque, told Anadolu Agency that Palestinians responded to the invitation of the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs to perform prayers at the mosque in defiance of Israel’s plans to go ahead with a construction plan that would change some of its features.
On Monday, the Israeli Defence Ministry said it has started a project at the mosque’s courtyards to build a route that directly links the parking area to the mosque and install an electric lift.
Palestinians see the construction as a way to take over the entire site – which is split into separate Jewish and Muslim areas – for Jewish visitors.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs announced the closure of all the mosques in the city of Hebron and asked the worshippers to perform the Friday prayers at Ibrahimi Mosque as a “denouncement” of the Israeli occupation.
Abu Sneina said accepting the invitation to perform the Friday prayers in the mosque “shows Muslims’ affiliation with the Ibrahimi Mosque”.
Before the influx of worshippers to the mosque, the Israeli army added forces at its entrances, spreading iron berms in the courtyard and checking the identities of worshippers and journalists.
A witness told Anadolu the Israeli forces allowed the worshippers to enter the mosque one by one, resulting in congestion at the pre-existing barriers leading to the religious site.
Prayers in the mosque are usually subject to strict security restrictions as worshippers must pass several barriers and electronic gates before reaching the stairs leading to the place of prayer.