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20 years on, Hebron mosque massacre haunts survivors
Published Tuesday 25/02/2014 (updated) 27/02/2014 15:57
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This partial view of the Hebron mosque dated on February 25,
1994 shows praying carpets covered with blood.(AFP/File Patrick Baz)
HEBRON (AFP) -- Twenty years on, the massacre of 29 Palestinians by a Jewish extremist as they prayed in Hebron's Ibrahimi mosque still haunts Mohammed Abu al-Halawa, a survivor who was left a paraplegic.

On Feb. 25, 1994, Brooklyn born settler Baruch Goldstein used an assault rifle to gun down worshipers in the Ibrahimi Mosque in the heart of Hebron, before he was beaten to death by those who escaped his hail of bullets.

Dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces in West Bank protests following the massacre.

Abu al-Halawa, 53, resides a mere 400 meters from Goldstein's grave in the Kiryat Abra settlement where he had lived, adjoining Hebron's old city.

"I remember the massacre at every moment and am physically still affected by it -- it paralyzed me for life, and I'm still in a lot of pain and need regular medical treatment," he said from his wheelchair.

"It pains me whenever I see settlers dancing next to the grave of the criminal who left me disabled," he added, bitter that his attacker was still honored by some Jewish extremists.

And with a physical disability, the draconian security measures and checkpoints imposed by the occupying Israeli army on Hebron following the massacre are all the more arduous for Abu al-Halawa.

Hebron's main street was partially closed to Palestinians after the massacre, and six years later, at the outset of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, the army declared it a "closed military zone," restricting Palestinian access to residents of the immediate area -- and then on foot only.

Last Friday, thousands took part in a protest to demand that Shuhada Street be reopened. At least 13 Palestinians were injured and five detained after Israeli forces violently dispersed the demonstrations.

Palestinians evacuate a man on February 25, 1994
wounded during the Hebron massacre.(AFP/File Patrick Baz)

The occupation is felt as strongly as ever today around the site of the 1994 massacre, and the security measures have put many worshipers off praying at the historic site.

Electronic gates, airport-style security and searches by soldiers of those heading to the Ibrahimi Mosque detract from any feeling of reverence, and the number of Muslims going to pray has diminished, according to local religious officials.

Adel Idris, who was the mosque's imam on the day of the massacre, remembers it vividly.

"I'll never forget what happened. Every day that I enter the shrine to pray I get flashbacks of the scene -- the criminal opening fire, the roar of the gun and screams of worshipers... that was an indescribably awful moment," he said.

Worship at the flashpoint site is split between the two faiths, with an area for Jews and one for Muslims.

The director of Hebron's Islamic religious affairs, Taysir Abu Sneineh, said that "entering the mosque to pray has become much more difficult since the massacre".

"They (the Israeli army) are punishing the victims!"

Goldstein was a member of a banned racist group, which advocates the forcible expulsion of all Palestinians from the biblical "Greater Israel".

Around 500 Israeli settlers live in Hebron's Old City, many of whom have illegally occupied Palestinian houses and forcibly removed the original inhabitants. They are protected by thousands of Israeli forces, and frequently harass local Palestinians.

A 1997 agreement split Hebron into areas of Palestinian and Israeli control.

The Israeli military-controlled H2 zone includes the ancient Old City, home of the revered Ibrahimi Mosque -- also split into a synagogue referred to as the Tomb of the Patriarchs -- and the once thriving Shuhada street, now just shuttered shops fronts and closed homes.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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1 ) Sia / Canada
25/02/2014 20:10
May Baruch Goldstein rot in eternal hell!

2 ) Stan Squires / canada
25/02/2014 21:46
Im from vancouver,canada and i wanted to say that the Hebron massacre reminds me of the Sharpville Massacre in South Africa in the early 1960s.Israel got an apartheid gov.like South Africa had back then.
Shame on the western govs.like canada,usa and some european govs. for supporting israeli apartheid.It is good that the BDS Campaign against israel got a lot of support in the world.It will bring down israeli apartheid like the boycott of South Africa brought down apartheid there.

3 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
25/02/2014 22:02
So Sia, what about the souls of the Palestinians who massacred 67 Jews in Hebron in 1929? Are they rotting in eternal hell too?

4 ) Tom / UK
25/02/2014 23:55
@1 Agreed but the Israelis are continuing his murderous racist ideology.

5 ) Arnold / Canada
26/02/2014 00:03
Sia # 1. Him and Arafat

6 ) ABE / USA
26/02/2014 04:00
As horrible as this act was, no justifiction for it. Jews suffer the same trauma from numerous suicide bombings. There is no right side on this issue. Innocent people die on both sides for no GOOD REASON.

7 ) Rami / Palestine
26/02/2014 08:21
Ma'an, again your terminology is questionable. According to all of your articles, any Israelis that commit horrific crimes against Palestinians can only be labelled "extremists", so by your account when do you think an Israeli would merit being labelled a "terrorist"? What level of crime must be achieved in your eyes to earn such a title?

8 ) ian / australia
26/02/2014 10:32
Judaism, esp. in its ultra-Orthodox form, isn't concerned with morality so much as nomism, a fancy term for obeying laws. And they're not really "laws" in the normal sense so much as the injunctions, commandments, requirements of the diety. And if the deity can be interpreted as enjoining the Children of Israel to destroy or steal or massacre (as is the case throughout the Bible)...then the Children of Israel, the TRULY observant, are sworn to heed the Divine Will.

9 ) ian / australia
26/02/2014 10:33
(contd.) (As the deity HaShem doesn't exist, the commandments are in effect from the ruling sect of Levitical Judaism...which most certainly does.) And as orthodox Judaism is all about the Abrahamic Covenant, the promise of the land, the eternal war with the seed of Amalek yadda yadda (rather than being good to your neighbour), Dr. Baruch Goldstein's massacre can be seen as an observant act by a devout Jew, carrying out the divine injunction to wrest the Land of Israel from its mortal enemies.

10 ) ian / australia
26/02/2014 10:34
(contd.) The morality of the act doesn't come into it because he was, in effect, obeying orders. His Wiki page says most Israelis regard him as insane and I'm sure they do, but there are plenty who don't as his shrine-like grave in Kiryat Abra (where he is virtually patron saint) and the reverence in which he is held mostly amongst fellow settlers from Brooklyn, attest.

11 ) Colin Wright / USA
26/02/2014 19:58
Re Brain #3, Arnold #5, Abe #6: Notice how when all else fails, the Zionists play the equivalence game. They never, never unequivocally condemn a Jewish action.

12 ) Colin Wright / USA
26/02/2014 20:13
As I noted previously, Baruch Goldstein walked -- fully armed -- past the Israeli soldiers guarding the only entrance to the Ibrahimi mosque, he carried out his massacre with his back to the entrance while these guards did nothing, someone was handing him clips as he shot, and after he had been overcome and the survivors of the massacre spilled out of the mosque, the Israeli soldiers who had been waiting outside opened fire on these survivors themselves.

13 ) Colin Wright / USA
26/02/2014 20:15
To Ian #10: '...The morality of the act doesn't come into it because he was, in effect, obeying orders... ' Be fair. I think Goldstein volunteered for his mission. However, it's pretty obvious at least elements within the Israeli army were complicit.

14 ) Sister Bridget O'Connall / India
26/02/2014 23:16
That evil exists in the world is surely true, and some acts are so evil that no words can describe them, nor convey the abhorrence felt by them. This is one of them, although there are others, all committed in the name of religion. Such acts should remind the world to work for the good of humanity, rather than letting them divide us. In the end God will be the final judge, both of those who chose to fight against evil & those who were led astray by Satan's desires. May God guide us all to truth.

15 ) ian / australia
01/03/2014 12:14
#12, #13 I'm not so sure about all that, Colin. I always thought he was a lone nut. My understanding is he was in uniform, carrying his assault rifle and so could freely pass guards and enter the Isaac Hall. (As an IDF doctor he probably outranked the guards.) He chose his moment, when worshippers knelt facing the qibla and began shooting. When his gun jammed, he was bashed with a fire extinguisher, disarmed and beaten to death. I've no doubt guards outside fired in a panic into the fleeing

16 ) ian / australia
01/03/2014 12:16
(contd.) crowd and did nothing to protect the victims FROM Goldstein, being hard-wired on both counts, but they may have been taken completely by surprise. His allegiance to Kach and Rabbi Kahane, his refusal to treat Arabs and Druze and reported extreme statements (warnings were issued about him after an acid attack on the mosque the year before) all point to a lone, messianic, religious mission. Or I may be wrong.
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