PA: Hanukkiah at Cave of Patriarchs Constitutes a ‘War Crime’

The placing of a hanukkiah on the roof of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in celebration of Hanukkah has been denounced as a “war crime” by the Palestinian Authority, according to a report by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) quoted by The Jerusalem Post.

The site is holy to both Jews and Muslims; according to Jewish tradition it is the place where the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, other than Rachel, are buried, while it is known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque. It was converted into a mosque around 637 CE during the occupation of Hebron by Muslim Caliph Umar, and is now used by both Muslim and Jewish worshipers.

“The occupation state [i.e. Israel]… is exploiting every opportunity, and particularly the so-called ‘Jewish holidays,’ to commit crimes and plans that desecrate our Islamic holy sites in Hebron,” Mahmoud Al-Habbash, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor on Religious Affairs and Islamic Relations said in a statement, according to PMW, citing a report in WAFA, the PA’s official news agency.

According to the report, Al-Habbash described the placing of the menorah at the site a “war crime,” and a blatant attack perpetrated by Israel against Islamic holy sites and mosques.

WAFA reported that: “He emphasized that the Ibrahimi Mosque is a pure Islamic heritage, to which those who are not Muslim have no right,” according to a translation by PMW, before calling on Palestinians to visit the Ibrahimi Mosque and carry out Ribat – conflict over land deemed Islamic – in order to emphasize the Palestinian and Islamic nature of the site.

The PA’s Supreme Fatwa Council has also condemned the placing of the Menorah. A report in the official PA daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that the Council had called the action: “a blatant violation, a true provocation of the Muslims’ sensibilities, and an additional aggressive attempt to erase the Islamic history in service of the goal to Judaize the Ibrahimi Mosque and create a fake Jewish character for it,” according to a translation by PMW.