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Remembering the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre
In an event which cemented the city's occupation, Baruch Goldstein gunned down Muslim worshippers 20 years ago today.
Last updated: 24 Feb 2014 21:04
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Hebron, occupied Palestinian territories - On February 25 1994, a US-born Israeli military physician walked into the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron armed with a Galil assault rifle. It was early morning during the holy month of Ramadan, and hundreds of Palestinians were crammed inside, bowed in prayer.

Baruch Goldstein, who had emigrated to Israel in 1983, lived in the Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of the city. As worshippers kneeled, Goldstein opened fire. He reloaded at least once, continuing his barrage for as long as possible before finally being overpowered and eventually beaten to death. By the time he was stopped, 29 worshippers were killed, and more than a hundred had been injured.

The Israeli government immediately released a statement condemning the act and stating that Goldstein acted alone and was psychologically disturbed.

Twenty years later, Palestinians are carrying out memorial events and Hebron's settlers are preparing celebratory pilgrimages to Goldstein's shrine inside Kiryat Arba.

Muslims and Jews alike believe that the building houses the earthly remains of the religious patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, and the complex is divided between Jewish and Muslim areas. 

The massacre was widely reported in the international media - but many Palestinians here continue believe that the full story has never been told.

The 29 people killed inside the mosque were not the only "martyrs" that day. Locals estimate the final number of deaths at between 50 and 70 - and an estimated 250 were injured over the course of the day. After the initial attack inside the mosque, more Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army during protests outside the mosque, outside Hebron's Ahli hospital, and even in the local cemetery as the dead were being buried.

Some survivors of the massacre also report that they were shot by a second gunman inside the mosque, and claim that this was a planned attack of which the Israeli military was aware in advance. None here believe the official story of Goldstein acting entirely alone in a fit of madness.

The Israelis ordered 520 businesses to close overnight, and they remain shuttered to this day. Shuhaha Street, the main road through town, was later sealed off.

"The only way to be on this road is to be an Israeli or a foreigner," said Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher. "For Palestinians, this is a no-go area."


/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

The Ibrahimi mosque was closed for nine months after Goldstein's attack for intensive repairs and cleaning. All the carpets, denched in blood, had to be replaced.



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

Hakam Tahboob has been a guard at the mosque for 31 years, and was here during the shooting: "Goldstein used to come every night and pray at Yakoob's tomb. We know now that he was watching us and planning. The Israeli government wanted to get us out of the mosque."



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

After the massacre, the Israeli military divided the Ibrahimi mosque in two - giving exclusive access to more than half of it, including all of the surrounding gardens, to Israeli settlers and Jewish visitors.



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

An estimated 1,000 Israeli soldiers, some of whom are themselves settlers, are stationed in military bases inside Hebron's city-centre settlements. Many pray in the part of the complex that was handed to the settlers after the massacre.



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

Ala'aldin Jabari has been a guard at the mosque since before the massacre: "Goldstein walked in wearing headphones and a kippa. He entered through one door and walked along the back wall shooting. His plan was to walk out the far door but it was closed. There were bodies and blood everywhere."



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

The mosque is said to be built above the tombs of Ibrahim (Abraham), Ishaq (Isaac), Yakoob (Jacob), Sarah, Rifqa (Rebecca) and Leah, who have religious significance in all three of the world's major monotheistic religions. For generations, Hebron's historic Palestinian Jewish community worshipped at the site alongside Palestinian Muslims.



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

The bullet that hit Kamal Abdeen passed through his throat as he turned towards Goldstein. He was in a coma for four months before regaining consciousness, but remains paralysed from the chest down. "The soldiers always searched us before we entered the mosque and we had to pass through a metal detector," he said. "On that day the machine was turned off and no-one searched us. There were fewer soldiers there than usual and they were relaxed and laughing, they didn't think anybody was going to get out alive."



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

Hamadi al-Mohtesab was partially paralysed after being shot three times inside the mosque: "I turned and saw a settler behind me shooting, and then I was hit from the other side. I don't know who shot me, but it wasn't him. I was shot three times in the other side of my body. I couldn't see at all after that, but I could still hear and heard people saying that soldiers had closed the main door so we couldn't get out. When we were in the ambulance we were stopped at a checkpoint in Beit Ummar. The soldiers kept us for a long time at the checkpoint and my friend who was also injured died in the ambulance... It never leaves you, people tell me that I don't laugh anymore."



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

Tourists come to visit the settlers and tour the settlers' side of the mosque, which is known to Jews as "The Cave of Machpelah", or "The Tomb of the Patriarchs", on a daily basis. Most are North American Jews or Christian Zionists but some European groups also visit. Donations are made that support Hebron's settlement project - although the presence of settlers in Hebron is illegal according to international law.



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

Fatima Hamis al-Jabari's husband, Suleiman, was killed by Goldstein during the massacre: "My husband and I, and two of our sons were at the mosque. Men and women are separated to pray so when I heard the shooting I just thought about my husband and sons. As the shooting began my husband tried to cover our youngest son, Sari, who was eight. Suleiman was shot through the back and the bullet went straight through him and into Sari. My husband was killed, Sari's stomach spilled out and we thought he would die too but he survived after one month in hospital."



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

In the hours after the massacre many people went to hospitals to donate blood for the injured. Arafat Baya'at was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers outside Ahli Hospital in Hebron after giving blood. His wife Hala recounts the day: "He went to open his shop as normal but heard what had happened so drove to the hospital to give blood. As he came out of the hospital an ambulance pulled up and Arafat's friend was carried out, he was already dead. Arafat was angry and picked up a stone to throw at soldiers who were surrounding the hospital. As he stood up they shot him once in the heart."



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

To reach Ibrahimi mosque, Palestinians must now pass through some of the many permanently staffed Israeli military checkpoints as well as occasional "flying" checkpoints that surround the Old City. Many Palestinians in Hebron now avoid this area entirely due to the presence of the soldiers and settlers.



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

Jamal Maraqa is a shopkeeper in the Old City near the mosque: "Everything changed after the massacre. The settlers were given half the mosque and Hebron was then divided into [areas] H1 and H2 - with H2 being only for settlers. They took our houses and shops too. The soldiers threw me out of our shop and welded the doors shut, I only came back a few years ago."



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

In 2010, a member of Hebron's historic Palestinian Jewish community met with the Palestinian mayor of Hebron. Haim Bajayo had left the city decades earlier and ceded his family property to the Palestinian community in 1977. Bajayo asked Mayor Khalid Al-Useili if he could be buried in the Muslim cemetery because Hebron was his home city and he refused to be buried in the Jewish cemetery "because it's under the settlers' control". His request was accepted by Al-Useili "not as a guest but as an authentic Hebron citizen".



/Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera

Many Palestinians remain convinced that the massacre was a planned attack with at least some official backing that was aimed at dividing the mosque and Hebron, and cementing the presence of Jewish settlers in the city.




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images:
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captions:

The Ibrahimi mosque was closed for nine months after Goldstein(***)s attack for intensive repairs and cleaning. All the carpets, denched in blood, had to be replaced.

;*;

Hakam Tahboob has been a guard at the mosque for 31 years, and was here during the shooting: "Goldstein used to come every night and pray at Yakoob(***)s tomb. We know now that he was watching us and planning. The Israeli government wanted to get us out of the mosque."

;*;

After the massacre, the Israeli military divided the Ibrahimi mosque in two - giving exclusive access to more than half of it, including all of the surrounding gardens, to Israeli settlers and Jewish visitors.

;*;

An estimated 1,000 Israeli soldiers, some of whom are themselves settlers, are stationed in military bases inside Hebron(***)s city-centre settlements. Many pray in the part of the complex that was handed to the settlers after the massacre.

;*;

Ala(***)aldin Jabari has been a guard at the mosque since before the massacre: "Goldstein walked in wearing headphones and a kippa. He entered through one door and walked along the back wall shooting. His plan was to walk out the far door but it was closed. There were bodies and blood everywhere."

;*;

The mosque is said to be built above the tombs of Ibrahim (Abraham), Ishaq (Isaac), Yakoob (Jacob), Sarah, Rifqa (Rebecca) and Leah, who have religious significance in all three of the world(***)s major monotheistic religions. For generations, Hebron(***)s historic Palestinian Jewish community worshipped at the site alongside Palestinian Muslims.

;*;

The bullet that hit Kamal Abdeen passed through his throat as he turned towards Goldstein. He was in a coma for four months before regaining consciousness, but remains paralysed from the chest down. "The soldiers always searched us before we entered the mosque and we had to pass through a metal detector," he said. "On that day the machine was turned off and no-one searched us. There were fewer soldiers there than usual and they were relaxed and laughing, they didn(***)t think anybody was going to get out alive."

;*;

Hamadi al-Mohtesab was partially paralysed after being shot three times inside the mosque: "I turned and saw a settler behind me shooting, and then I was hit from the other side. I don(***)t know who shot me, but it wasn(***)t him. I was shot three times in the other side of my body. I couldn(***)t see at all after that, but I could still hear and heard people saying that soldiers had closed the main door so we couldn(***)t get out. When we were in the ambulance we were stopped at a checkpoint in Beit Ummar. The soldiers kept us for a long time at the checkpoint and my friend who was also injured died in the ambulance... It never leaves you, people tell me that I don(***)t laugh anymore."

;*;

Tourists come to visit the settlers and tour the settlers(***) side of the mosque, which is known to Jews as "The Cave of Machpelah", or "The Tomb of the Patriarchs", on a daily basis. Most are North American Jews or Christian Zionists but some European groups also visit. Donations are made that support Hebron(***)s settlement project - although the presence of settlers in Hebron is illegal according to international law.

;*;

Fatima Hamis al-Jabari(***)s husband, Suleiman, was killed by Goldstein during the massacre: "My husband and I, and two of our sons were at the mosque. Men and women are separated to pray so when I heard the shooting I just thought about my husband and sons. As the shooting began my husband tried to cover our youngest son, Sari, who was eight. Suleiman was shot through the back and the bullet went straight through him and into Sari. My husband was killed, Sari(***)s stomach spilled out and we thought he would die too but he survived after one month in hospital."

;*;

In the hours after the massacre many people went to hospitals to donate blood for the injured. Arafat Baya(***)at was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers outside Ahli Hospital in Hebron after giving blood. His wife Hala recounts the day: "He went to open his shop as normal but heard what had happened so drove to the hospital to give blood. As he came out of the hospital an ambulance pulled up and Arafat(***)s friend was carried out, he was already dead. Arafat was angry and picked up a stone to throw at soldiers who were surrounding the hospital. As he stood up they shot him once in the heart."

;*;

To reach Ibrahimi mosque, Palestinians must now pass through some of the many permanently staffed Israeli military checkpoints as well as occasional "flying" checkpoints that surround the Old City. Many Palestinians in Hebron now avoid this area entirely due to the presence of the soldiers and settlers.

;*;

Jamal Maraqa is a shopkeeper in the Old City near the mosque: "Everything changed after the massacre. The settlers were given half the mosque and Hebron was then divided into [areas] H1 and H2 - with H2 being only for settlers. They took our houses and shops too. The soldiers threw me out of our shop and welded the doors shut, I only came back a few years ago."

;*;

In 2010, a member of Hebron(***)s historic Palestinian Jewish community met with the Palestinian mayor of Hebron. Haim Bajayo had left the city decades earlier and ceded his family property to the Palestinian community in 1977. Bajayo asked Mayor Khalid Al-Useili if he could be buried in the Muslim cemetery because Hebron was his home city and he refused to be buried in the Jewish cemetery "because it(***)s under the settlers(***) control". His request was accepted by Al-Useili "not as a guest but as an authentic Hebron citizen".

;*;

Many Palestinians remain convinced that the massacre was a planned attack with at least some official backing that was aimed at dividing the mosque and Hebron, and cementing the presence of Jewish settlers in the city.

Daylife ID:
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Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera;*;Rich Wiles/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
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