February 25, 1994: Israeli settlers massacre 29 Palestinians in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque
“It was so painful to come back here after what happened and see that they had taken away two-thirds of the mosque. It was an injustice. Instead of offering a hand to those who were killed and injured, the Israelis gave the settlers more space and access to the mosque. It was as if they were rewarding the murderers.” – Hosni Issa al-Rajabeh, Ibrahimi Mosque massacre survivor
On this day in 1994, during dawn prayer in the holy month of Ramadan, a group of armed Israeli settlers entered the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Hebron and opened fire on hundreds of Palestinian worshippers, killing 29 people. Among the settlers was Baruch Goldstein, an American-Israeli from the far-right Kach movement, who became a hero to Israel’s far-right. The massacre continued later the same day when Israeli forces shot at attendees of the victims’ funeral, killing 31 more Palestinians, and raising the total death toll to 60.
After the massacre, the Israeli occupation forces converted 60% of the total area of the mosque into a Jewish synagogue protected by metal barriers and military barracks, making it more difficult and complicated for Palestinian Muslims to enter. The Israeli army also closed Shuhada street, which until then had been the economic epicentre of Hebron and a bustling market, thereby shutting down commerce and forcing many Palestinian residents to abandon their homes. The Israeli government imposed a series of security measures which still exist today, including a network of checkpoints, preventing Palestinians from going about their daily affairs and subjecting them to settler and military violence.
Following the attack, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 904 (1994) to condemn the massacre. The resolution called upon Israel, the occupying power, to take action to stop settler violence, including by confiscating their weapons, and to “guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians throughout the occupied territory.” However, there has never been any justice for the victims, and instead, Palestinian residents of Hebron continue to live with the endless consequences of state-sanctioned settler violence.