The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned the latest incursion of Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil by Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, saying the move is part of Tel Aviv's plans to Judiaze the entire city as well as the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories.
In a statement on Monday, the OIC described the storming and defiling of the mosque, which took place during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, as “a provocation of Muslims’ sensibilities and a continuation of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people’s rights, land and holy sites,” Palestine's official Wafa news agency reported.
It further urged the international community to act immediately to protect the holy and historical sites in Palestine, and to compel Israeli authorities to respect the sacredness of the holy sites and implement relevant UN resolutions.
On Sunday evening, Herzog, amidst strict military measures, took part in a candle lighting ceremony at the mosque during his planned visit to the holy site.
Israeli forces closed the mosque's gates and prevented Palestinian residents, who had gathered to denounce the visit, from praying or being in the vicinity of the site.
Israeli forces also attacked protesters in an attempt to disperse the angry crowds of Palestinians.
The Israeli troops even forced the shop owners to close their shops and hindered the work of the Palestinian press crews in a bid to prevent them from covering the intrusion.
Hamas: Herzog’s visit another attempt to Judaize Palestinian territories
Meanwhile, a high-ranking official with the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has called for more resistance across the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and al-Quds, following Herzog’s desecration of the mosque.
Abu Kuweik made the remarks at a press conference on Monday, during which he denounced Herzog’s visit to the mosque as “another attempt to Judaize it” and “a heinous crime and a frenzied war" against Palestinians' religion and holy sites, the Palestinian Information Center reported.
He also called on Palestinians in the West Bank to flock to Ibrahimi Mosque and frequent it for prayers.
The Hamas official further accused the Israeli regime of taking advantage of its normalized ties with some Arab states to commit more crimes and violations against the Palestinian people, their land and holy sites.
Ibrahimi Mosque was split into a synagogue, known to Jews as the Cave of Patriarchs, and a mosque after American-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994. Since then, Muslim worshipers have been prevented from having access to the site during Jewish holidays.
After Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it divided al-Khalil into separate Muslim and Jewish cities.
Al-Khalil, which Jews call Hebron, is the biggest city in the West Bank, home to more than 200,000 Palestinians. About 1,000 Israeli settlers, who engage in frequent attacks on Palestinians, also live there under heavy military protection.