Israeli Occupation Troops Close Down Wakf Department and Mosque in Hebron

Posted: 20 Zul-Hijjah 1421, 16 March 2001

Al-Khalil (West Bank), (IAP News) - In a fresh repressive measure against Palestinians, the Zionist occupation troops on Thursday closed down the Wakf department in al-Khalil's old town without any explanation.

According to Wakf officials, zionist occupation soldiers stationed outside the Wakf offices barred Wakf officials from entering the premises alleging that the place was a "closed military zone."

Wakf chief in al-Khalil Sheikh Salah Kawasmi pointed out during press conference at al-Khalil City Hall Thursday that the purpose of the closure was to appease Jewish settlers in the Old Town who would like to expel Palestinians from the city and obliterate its Arab-Islamic identity.

"They gave no reason for the closure, nor did they say if it would be temporary or permanent, they were only carrying out the settlers' wishes " said Kawasmi.

Earlier, the zionist occupation army closed down the retail vegetable market as well as the adjacent Sunniya Mosque, declaring both "a closed military zone."

Palestinian sources intimated that occupation troops were acting at the settlers' beck and call, particularly in the period since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada five months ago.

Al-Khalil is the only Palestinian town in the West Bank where the zionist occupation army is still maintaining a significant military presence to protect the estimated 250-300 Jewish settlers living in the tiny Jewish enclaves in the city.

The settlers in al-Khalil are considered among the most violence-prone of Jews anywhere.

Last week, many of them rampaged through the city, attacking Palestinians and vandalizing their property in the full view of Israeli occupation soldiers.

In 1994, one of settlers from the nearby Jewish settlement of Kiryat Araba, named Baruch Goldstein, massacred over 40 Palestinian worshippers while they were praying at dawn at the town's Ibrahimi Mosque.