Israel closes Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque for Jewish new year

Published September 16th, 2015 - 09:49 GMT

Israeli authorities on Tuesday closed the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron to Palestinian worshipers for the final day of the Jewish new year holiday, a Palestinian Authority official said. 

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowment asked that serious steps be taken in response to Israeli "violations" against the Ibrahimi Mosque and other Palestinian holy sites.

The ministry viewed the closure as a further act of provocation, as violent clashes erupted for the third straight day in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. 

As on previous days, Israeli forces swept into the mosque compound on Tuesday morning to clear the way for Jewish groups visiting the site to celebrate the Jewish new year.

In the ensuing clashes, witnesses said that Israeli forces entered the compound's southern mosque, firing tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets inside. 

The Ministry of Endowment said that Palestinians should unite to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and other Palestinian holy sites against Israeli violations that it said are aimed at effacing the holy sites' Palestinian identity.

The Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is of religious significance to both Muslims and Jews. 

It has historically been a flashpoint between Palestinians and Israelis, particularly after a Brooklyn-born Jewish settler massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994. 

Around 700 settlers live in 80 homes in the city center of Hebron, surrounded by nearly 200,000 Palestinians.

The settlements -- illegal under international law -- are protected by the Israeli army in the tightly controlled city, where many streets are off limits to Palestinians.

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