Israel settlers raise flag at Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque ahead of 'Independence Day'
Israeli settlers on Wednesday raised their national flag atop the Ibrahimi Mosque, the second-holiest Islamic site in Palestine, ahead of Israel's so-called 'Independence Day'.
The Ibrahimi Mosque is in illegally occupied Hebron and second in spiritual significance only to Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, where the Israeli flag was raised and national anthem sung in place of the Muslim call to prayer on Tuesday evening.
The Jewish extremists at the Ibrahimi Mosque were protected by Israeli soldiers, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
Nedal Al-Jaabari, leader of the local Waqf, or Islamic endowment, which is in charge of administering the mosque, slammed the raising of the flag.
He said it was a breach of the sacred nature of such places of worship and against international treaties and standards.
Al-Jaabari added that the move was made within a broader effort to turn the mosque into a Jewish site.
The Israeli flag has been raised there several times in the past decade by settlers and troops.
The Ibrahimi Mosque was also the location of a 1994 massacre of Muslim worshippers by Jewish radical Baruch Goldstein.
The attack killed 29 people and left 125 injured.
Hebron's Old City is home to around 40,000 Palestinians and has an extremist settler presence of up to 850 people.
Israel occupies the area and maintains a discriminatory system that sees Palestinians banned from using particular roads which Israeli settlers and overseas visitors are allowed to roam freely.
Israelis will celebrate the 1948 establishment of their state from Wednesday evening to Thursday evening, soon before Nakba Day.
Held on 15 May, Nakba Day commemorates the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from their homes alongside Israel's creation.