by Maayana Miskin
(IsraelNN.com) Muslims in the city of Hevron were allowed to access the entire Tomb of the Patriarchs (Maarat HaMachpelah) this week in honor of the birthday of Mohammed, whom Muslims revere as a prophet. Worshipers took advantage of the opportunity to desecrate Jewish holy texts, including prayer books and books of Psalms.
The damage was discovered on Monday when Jews were allowed to return to the prayer halls usually set aside for Jewish use. The desecration caused upset and anger among the returning Jewish worshipers.
Jewish community spokesman David Wilder said such damage is unfortunately common. Jews have often returned after Muslims made use of the entire holy place to discover ruined holy books, damaged mezuzah cases and other destruction, he said. Jews try to remove all holy objects from the sanctuary before turning it over to Muslim use, he explained, but books are occasionally accidentally left behind.
The damage is not accidental, however, Wilder clarified. “They know exactly what it is that they are doing,” he said of those who destroy the holy texts.
The IDF is aware of such incidents, he added, as video cameras in the building allow them to see what takes place in the prayer halls. “It’s very unfortunate that more care isn’t taken to prevent these things from happening,” he said.
Hevron’s Jews are now calling on the IDF to refuse the next request for Muslim access to the Jewish prayer halls. If the desecration is not met with punishment, such acts will continue, they say.