Uninvited Israeli Settlers Enter Beit Ommar Mosque

17 December 2010

At 4am on the morning of Wednesday, December 16th 2010, a contingent of Israeli soldiers accompanied a group of settlers into the town of Beit Ommar. They woke up the guardian of the Old Mosque and demanded that he open the building for them. On entering the Old Mosque the settlers began taking photographs of the interior.

The guardian was told that the settlers wish to partition the mosque and use their half for prayers three times a week, claiming that the building holds special religious significance for them.

The residents of Beit Ommar strongly oppose this move for several reasons. The mosque, which is around 800 years old, is located in the old quarter of the town. It is still used by residents for prayers and it forms an important part of the town’s historical, cultural and religious heritage.

Beit Ommar is designated as Area B, and therefore under Palestinian control. The town, with a population of around 17,000 inhabitants, fears that use of this holy building will cause further tension between the residents of Beit Ommar and the settlers from Karmei Tsur, with whom the relationship is already strained due to the settlement’s encroachments onto nearby land belonging to local farmers. Residents suspect that the settlers’ provocative and arguable claim over the Old Mosque of Beit Ommar could form a pretext for further unjustifiable land grabs.