The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday accused Israel of infringing on freedom of worship following restrictive measures imposed on services at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Israel has imposed restrictions on the religious services of all faiths, as part of the limitations placed on public gatherings due to COVID-19.
The PA’s Wafa news agency claimed that the “Israeli occupation forces” prevented Palestinians from attending morning prayers at the Ibrahimi Mosque, the Arabic name for the Cave of the Patriarchs.
According to the report, the IDF has set up checkpoints, tightened its inspections along the roads leading to the site and prevented groups of over 50 people from entering the mosque or gathering outside the compound.
According to Israel National News, Hefzi Abu Sneineh, director of endowments for Hebron, condemned “the Israeli measures that strive to keep Muslim worshippers away from the site by closing the electronic gates and blocking residents’ paths at military checkpoints.”
He called the masures “an attack on the holy places of Islam” in contravention of international treaties on freedom of worship.
The complaints by the PA officials may be an attempt to hide other problems. Hundreds of Palestinians protested outside the PA headquarters in Hebron on Saturday night. The protesters demanded the right to pray in city mosques in observance of the Eid al-Fitr holiday despite a curfew put in place by the PA.
העימותים סביב תקנות הקורונה של הרשות לא עצרו גם הלילה: בחברון הפגינו מאות מול מתחם הרשות בדרישה לפתוח את המסגדים (“העם רוצה את תפילת החג) ובסוף הצליחו. גם בסלפית הפגנות נגד תקנות העוצר ושרפו אוהל של המנגנונים (1/2) pic.twitter.com/2R7sg5QZWR
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To prevent the spread of COVID-19, Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti Mohammad Hussein issued a fatwa permitting Muslims to perform Eid prayers in their homes. Before the dawn prayer Sunday, Muslims were permitted to crowd into the mosques without any apparent efforts by security forces to observe the lockdown procedures.