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27 years since Ibrahimi Mosque massacre that was perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinian worshippers

On Feb. 25, 1994, during dawn prayer, 500 Palestinians were attacked by mass shootings and bombings at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, Palestine. The gruesome attack left 29 worshipers martyred and dozens others wounded.

According to eyewitnesses, the attack was carried out by Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein with the help of other settlers and indirect support by the Israeli occupation forces.  

Khamis Qafisha, 60, a retired teacher, recalls he was surprised by the absolute absence of the Israeli army from their usual locations during the dawn prayer despite the clashes between the worshippers and settlers during evening prayer before the massacre.

This confirms Israel's involvement in the massacre, he said.

"During the Isha (evening) prayer, the Israeli occupation forces delayed our entry to the mosque for more than 15 minutes and tried to negotiate with us to perform the prayers in a place other than where we pray because the settlers were inside the mosque," Qafisha said.

"Due to the clashes, I expected the occupation forces to mobilize troops at the mosque’s entrances but when I went to pray [at dawn] my attention was drawn to the unusual absence of soldiers from their places,” he said.

Qafisha recalls the details of the massacre saying: "While prostrating, I heard a loud boom. I thought that an earthquake had occurred but it was bombs and shooting."

"When I raised my head from prostration, my eyes fell on Israeli settler carrying a rifle and a pistol with completely emptied magazines,” he said.

The eyewitness said that most of the victims were those who were in the middle rows behind the imam, and among them were children and the elderly.

"I saw a pool of blood on the prayer mats, blown skulls and scattered body parts and corpses, including of a child hardly 11 years old, and wounded people calling for help,” Qafisha recalled.

"I helped transfer the martyrs and the wounded worshippers through private cars and ambulances until my clothes were soaked in blood," he said.

Qafisha also said that settlers burned the mosque carpets, poured chemicals on it, brought dogs into the mosque, attacked and beat worshipers.

Worshippers who wish to access the mosque from outside the town are still forced to cross several military and electronic checkpoints.

Also, the adhan (call for prayer) is not always allowed in the mosque.

Muslims attach great value to the Ibrahimi Mosque as it was built on the location of the tomb of Prophet Abraham.

Basma Qaddour