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Thousands of Israelis hold celebrations at Ibrahimi Mosque

Sept. 18, 2018 3:04 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 19, 2018 4:28 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews and Israeli settlers entered the Ibrahimi Mosque compound in the southern occupied district of Hebron, on predawn Tuesday, and held celebrations inside and outside the mosque.

According to local sources, thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews and Israeli settlers, entered the Ibrahimi Mosque in successive groups and performed religious Jewish prayers on the occasion of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Atonement, is one of the most sacred holidays in Judaism, which starts at sunset on Tuesday and ends at sunset on Wednesday.

The mosque, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is sacred to both Muslims and Jews and has been the site of oft-violent tensions for decades.

The holy site was split into a synagogue -- known to Jews as the Cave of Patriarchs -- and a mosque after US-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994.

Since the split, Muslim worshipers have been denied access to the site during Jewish holidays and vice versa in effort to prevent violence from erupting at the holy site.

Located in the center of Hebron -- one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank -- the Old City was also divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas at the time, known as H1 and H2.

Some 800 notoriously aggressive settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.

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