Mufti slams Pence for ‘storming’ Tomb of the Patriarchs

Former US Vice President Mike Pence took a tour of Hebron, where he visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

US former Vice President Mike Pence sits for an onstage interview after his remarks on abortion, ahead of Supreme Court arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case involving a Mississippi abortion law, at the National Press Club in Washington, US, November 30, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)
US former Vice President Mike Pence sits for an onstage interview after his remarks on abortion, ahead of Supreme Court arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case involving a Mississippi abortion law, at the National Press Club in Washington, US, November 30, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)

The Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, condemned the visit by former US vice president Mike Pence to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Pence took a tour of the city on Wednesday, visiting the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the second-holiest place in Judaism after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The site includes a mosque called al-Haram al-Ibrahimi.

Accusing Pence of “storming” the site, the mufti said in a statement on Thursday that the Ibrahimi Mosque is a place of prayer and worship for Muslims alone.

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.

“What the US vice president did is a provocative and dangerous act for which the [Israeli] occupation authorities bear the consequences,” Hussein said.

Jerusalem mufti Sheikh Mohammad Hussein 370 (credit: YouTube Screenshot)Jerusalem mufti Sheikh Mohammad Hussein 370 (credit: YouTube Screenshot)

He also condemned the excavation and construction work carried out by the Israeli authorities in the courtyards of the Ibrahimi Mosque, which he said aims to build an elevator “to facilitate the extremist settlers’ incursions into the mosque, in addition to changing the mosque’s features.”

The Palestinians are opposed to an Israeli project to build an elevator there to make the biblical site wheelchair accessible. They claim that the project and other renovation work are designed to “Judaize” the site.

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

He accused Israel of dividing the site “to allow Jews to perform their rituals in certain places there, while imposing many restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshipers under false security pretexts.”

The mufti called on the Arab and Islamic countries and international institutions to take urgent action “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.”