Mufti of Jerusalem slams Pence for ‘storming’ Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron

The Tomb is the second-holiest site in Judaism after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

By World Israel News Staff

Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, the Mufti of Jerusalem, condemned former U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence’s visit on Wednesday to Hebron and, in particular, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Khaled Abu Toameh reported in The Jerusalem Post.

Yishai Fleisher, international spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron, gave Pence and his wife Karen a tour of the biblical city.

“Abraham was the father of 3 great world religions and it was a joy for @KarenPence and I to be able to visit his final resting place,” Pence tweeted.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs is the burial place of patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. Adam and Eve are also said to be buried there. The matriarch Rachel is buried separately near the city of Bethlehem.

The Tomb is the second-holiest site in Judaism after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It includes a mosque called al-Haram al-Ibrahimi.

In a statement Thursday, the Mufti slammed Pence for “storming the site,” saying it’s a place for Muslims only, the Post reported.

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Abu Toameh explained that the Palestinians regularly use the word “storm” to describe visits by Jews to the Temple Mount, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus (Shechem) in Samaria.

In what could be seen as an act of incitement to violence, the mufti said that what Pence did by visiting the Tomb “is a provocative and dangerous act for which the [Israeli] occupation authorities bear the consequences.”

The mufti also condemned the work being carried out by the Israeli authorities in the courtyards of the Ibrahimi Mosque in order to make the site wheelchair accessible, according to the Post.

Despite lack of approval from Hebron’s Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled municipality, an elevator is being built, which the mufti claimed is being done “to facilitate the extremist settlers’ incursions into the mosque, in addition to changing the mosque’s features” and to “Judaize” the site, the Post said.

The mufti added that “all religions and international laws forbid causing any harm to places of worship.”

He called on the Arab and Islamic countries and international institutions to protect religious holy sites in the occupied Palestinian territories and prevent the takeover of the Ibrahimi Mosque and any changes to its Islamic features,” the report said.

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In fact, Hebron was the first capital of the Jewish people, specifically the tribe of Judah, from whom most Jews today descend. King David served as king in Hebron for seven years before he was crowned King of Israel in Jerusalem.

“Thank you for your incredible effort against the historical theft that UNESCO made when it declared that this is not a Jewish site, that this is a world historical site that is Palestinian,” Fleisher told Pence.

In July 2017, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee designated the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Hebron a Palestinian heritage site.

Then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu read passages from the Bible during the following Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting as a refutation of the UNESCO resolution.