Ibrahimi Mosque, the second holiest Islamic site in Palestine, has been subjected to a series of complex security circumstances, especially after the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre in 1994, and the unjust decisions provided by Shamgar committee following the Massacre, which issued temporal and spatial division of Ibrahimi Mosque between the Jewish settlers and Muslim citizens, resulting the domination over more than %60 of the mosque’s area including the surrounding yards and gardens, where Muslims are prevented from accessing there. This, in turn, has led to impenitence of attempts to divert and erase the historical and archeological landmarks of the Islamic and Arabic civilization, affirmed by UNESCO through inscribing the Old City of Hebron and Ibrahimi Mosque on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2017, thanks to the HRC’s determined efforts that are still ongoing until now, for the sake of preserving and guarding the Palestinian Heritage and the historical identity of the Old City of Hebron and Ibrahimi Mosque.
The general Director of Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, Mr. Emad Hamdan, said that Israeli settlers started promoting a settler planned agenda, that aims at the full control over Ibrahimi Mosque and transforming it into a synagogue to be visited by Jews from everywhere. The settlers submitted an engineering design in June 2000 to construct an elevator adherent to Ibrahimi Mosque under the pretext of enabling people with disabilities to access the mosque, they also increased their demands to implement this project in 2017 after the UNESCO registered Ibrahimi Mosque on the World Heritage List.
Throughout preparations to install the elevator, archeological remains have been found, which caused discontinuing work and initiating the archeological excavations by the so-called Israel Antiquities Authority, as the Vice-Minister of Security stated that the work was halted due to discovering an archeological site.
The new excavations work started in February 2022 to construct the elevator base, whereby the pouring of concrete foundation took place in 1st March.2022, followed by the installation of the elevator’s iron structure in 26th May.2022, then in 26th October.2022 the Israeli media websites announced the discovery of an archeological site at the same place of constructing the elevator’s base for disabled people.
At the beginning of December 2022, the occupation has crossed the lines to the full extent by completely burying and bulldozing the archeological site.
Mr. Hamdan added that demolishing the archeological remains destroys the physical evidence that witnesses the existence of an urban fabric, which dates back at least to the Mamluk period, and includes in its very specific details buildings, houses, public places, Mamluk and Ottoman alleyways, infrastructure that might go back to the Romanian period, etc. The loss of any part of these details would negatively affect authenticity and integrity of the World Heritage Site, and hence threatens its Outstanding Universal Value.
Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) therefore decided to submit a letter to UNESCO, as the main authorized organization for running the Old City of Hebron as an inscribed site on the World Heritage List, in which the HRC illustrated the serious violations committed against the cultural heritage, and demanded the deployment of a fact-finding mission from UNESCO to stand up for and protect the archeological remains as a witness to our civilizational humanitarian heritage.
Despite all of the restrictions that the Israeli Occupation imposed, Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) constantly makes sure to be protective for Ibrahimi Mosque, where it has spent all efforts to renovate each part of it, starting with its yards to the domes, and this process has covered all nooks and crannies and every part inside and outside the mosque. The HRC has initiated its renovation work at Ibrahimi Mosque since 1998 with a special local technical team for maintenance work, and has trained this team for work, as well as considering the importance of reinforcing the Islamic Palestinian presence inside and outside the Mosque.
Mr. Hamdan also affirms that preserving and taking care of Ibrahimi Mosque with all the different aspects that it could cover is an Islamic and national moral duty, where it is much greater than merely being considered as an archeological site, as it is mainly coveted by the occupation for its location at the heart of Hebron City, and its continuous attempts to divide and divert it into a synagogue for the settlers. As for the Palestinians, they consider the Mosque as a continuous point of conflict, which never ends but with fully restoring it back, hoping that it remains bright with its colorful ornaments, stands tall with its magnificent minarets, and unshakable from any circumstances that are being created by the occupation throughout time.