Palestinian leaders: Disabled access to Tomb of Patriarchs is 'war crime'

Israel plans to install an elevator at the site will allow easier access for Jewish and Muslim disabled visitors alike.

Jews at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron over the Passover holiday (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Jews at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron over the Passover holiday
Palestinian leaders have described plans by Israel to install wheelchair access at the Tomb of the Patriarchs as “tantamount to igniting a religious war in the region and in the world,” and a "war crime," and have called for a third intifada in response. The changes will make the site more accessible for Jews and Muslims alike.
In 2019 Israeli politicians unveiled a plan to install an elevator at the site in Hebron, known as the Cave of the Patriarchs to Jews, and the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslims. For Jews, is the burial site of the Jewish Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. Muslims also revere Abraham as the father of Ishmael.
In May, the IDF issued an expropriation order for the site so that construction on the project could commence, making the ancient biblical site wheelchair accessible. The move bypassed Hebron’s Palestinian-run municipality, which opposed the project. The Palestinian Authority also opposed the project, denouncing it as “Judaization.”
Palestinian Authority Minister for the Civilian Affairs Hussein al-Shiekh tweeted in response, “today the so-called Israeli Minister of Defense signed a decision to confiscate [and] annex parts of the Ibrahimi campus in Hebron, which is a violation of the Hebron protocol, an end of the agreement signed between the PLO and Israel [and] a continuation of the #annexation project in the [West Bank and] #Jerusalem.”
Now it appears that the Palestinian leadership kept up the rhetoric in August, denouncing the plans as a "war crime" and incitement to violence.
According to a translation by NGO Palestinian Media Watch, on August 4, WAFA, the official PA news agency, reported that the PA’s Supreme Shari’ah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash "condemned the occupation government’s decision to allow the settlers to build an elevator inside the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron [...] since the authority to manage the Ibrahimi Mosque belongs to the Palestinian [PA] Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Hebron Municipality – and no one else."
The report continued: "Al-Habbash added that the occupation state and its leaders will bear the consequences of this continued arrogant behavior, and that aggression towards our holy sites will have a cost. He warned that the Palestinians are prepared to do anything in order to protect our religion and holy sites and defend them – regardless of the cost, and regardless of the sacrifices. Al-Habbash described the Israeli ruling as an attack on our religion and holy sites, and [said] that this will have severe consequences and is tantamount to igniting a religious war in the region and in the world."
Two days later the Official PA daily al-Hayat al-Jadida reported that the PA's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riyad Al-Malki said that constructing the elevator and "harming the Ibrahimi Mosque constitute a war crime and a violation of all the international laws. [...] He noted that in this way, the occupation is attempting to strengthen the colonialism, occupation, and forgeries that it is committing on our land, our heritage, and our history."
Both Al-Habbash and Al-Malki appealed to UNESCO in their statements to intervene, arguing that the site is purely an Islamic heriage site which has no connection to anyone who is not Muslim. Al-Malki called upon UNESCO to send a delegation "to get to know the deliberate Israeli destruction of the values of world art, heritage, and culture of the Palestinian sites," the paper reported, as well as urging the International Criminal Court to launch a criminal investigation against Israel.
On August 8, al-Hayat al-Jadida reported that PLO Executive Committee member and Head of the  Department of Human Rights and Civil Society, Ahmed Tamimi had said that a meeting planned for the following day was set to discuss the plans for the site, warning: "The Palestinian people doesn’t lack means to defend itself, its homeland, and its holy sites if the international community will continue to be negligent in upholding its obligations."
He continued: "The Palestinians have sacrificed hundreds of thousands of Martyrs and wounded and over a million prisoners over the course of the conflict with the Zionist movement and its occupying entity. The Palestinian revolutions and intifadas throughout the generations are proof of the Palestinian people’s willingness to go to the furthest extremes in order to defend its right and basic principles."
Palestinian leaders have been attempting to incite a third intifada for much of 2020, first over US President Donald Trump's peace plan for the region, then Israel's plans to annex parts of the West Bank, and finally in protest at the normalization deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, which Palestinian leaders saw as a betrayal of their cause.
So far, the Palestinian people have failed to respond to the calls.