On February 25 1994, a US-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein walked into the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron armed with a Galil assault rifle and murdered dozens of Palestinians. The massacre happened during the holy month of Ramadan. Palestinians remember and commemorate this day after 29 Palestinian worshippers were murdered along with hundreds being injured.
FOA interviews Fadi, one of the survivors of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre about what happened and his experience as a young boy.
FOA: Can you tell us what happened on the day of the massacre?
Fadi: I was 13 years old when the massacre happened during the holy month of Ramadan. I started hearing bomb sounds and lots of random shooting after fajr (morning) prayers.
Whilst the shooting was taking place I crawled behind one of the mosque pillars to hide from the gunfire. My cousin who was with me tried to do the same but he was shot and injured.
When I was inside the mosque I noticed that there was someone helping the shooter because the shooting was so constant and intense. The shooting was very heavy and lasted around 3 minutes. It was an incredibly frightening time for me.
When the shooting stopped I tried to get out of the mosque from the only exit and went straight home. I stayed at home for a long time as I was only a child and extremely traumatized by what I had seen. It was a horrible thing for me to witness and it took me a long time to mentally recover.
FOA: Do you feel scared now praying at the Ibrahimi mosque?
Fadi: Now days I’m not scared, I try to go to the mosque whenever I can, but when it happened when I was a child it took me a long time to not be scared.
However, for Palestinians who pray at the mosque it will always be unsafe because of the Israeli occupation.
FOA: How have things changed after the massacre?
Fadi: After the massacre there was a 60-day curfew, once the curfew was over the mosque was divided with Palestinians having access to less than 30%.
Israel has increased its control in the area and they have divided the Ibrahimi mosque and placed dozens of checkpoints and mental detectors just for Palestinians to enter the mosque. As a result, as a Palestinian it has become very hard to enter the mosque. On the other hand, Israeli’s and settlers do not have to go through any checkpoints.
Israel has not provided safety for the Palestinian people after the massacre instead they have punished us and rewarded the settlers.
Life is very restricted now for Palestinians living in Hebron we have curfews and lack of freedom of movement.
FOA: Many say what happened in the Ibrahimi mosque could be a pretext of what could happen in the Al-Aqsa mosque. Do you think Israel could also divide the Al-Aqsa mosque?
Fadi: Yes, I think the Israeli government can do anything they want in order to satisfy the settlers.
The Israeli government has the power to do what they want. Settlers can go into the Al-Aqsa Sanctuary freely with armed soldiers but Palestinians must go through armed gates and are always searched and harassed.
FOA would like to thank Fadi for sharing his experience and Fawwaz for helping translate the interview.