Hamas Threatens Violence Over Israeli President’s Chanukah Lighting in Hebron
Tomb of the Patriarchs

President Isaac Herzog plans to light the menorah at the Cave of the Patriarchs despite Hamas threats.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

The Hamas terrorist organization has threatened violence and called on Palestinians to protest if President Isaac Herzog follows through with a scheduled Chanukah-lighting at Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs on Sunday night.

In a statement issued on Friday, senior Hamas member Ismail Radwan said, “The Israeli occupation must bear full responsibility for the consequences of this attack,” calling the lighting of a menorah “a provocation of the feelings of the Palestinians and a blatant desecration of the sanctity of the mosque.”

Hamas considers the Tomb of the Patriarchs a mosque. The terrorist group also denounced Israeli plans to install a menorah at the Western Wall, which Israel does every year, and implied that Israel would set one up at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount as well.

“The Ibrahimi Mosque, Al-Buraq Wall, and Al-Aqsa Mosque are Muslim sanctities; the Israeli occupation will never succeed in altering facts and imposing new realities on the ground,” Hamas declared.

The President’s office announced Herzog’s candle-lighting plans on Wednesday.

The site, revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians, is the burial place of the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, along with matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. According to Jewish tradition, Adam and Eve are also buried there. The biblical matriarch Rachel is buried separately on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem, where she died in childbirth.

Previous Israeli officials, including former president Reuven Rivlin and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have lit a menorah at the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Last year, Israel placed a menorah on the roof of the tomb, which the Palestinian Authority called a “war crime” and “provocation.”

Also known as the Cave of Machpela, the site was purchased by the patriarch Abraham as described in Gen. 23:1-20. It has been a pilgrimage site for Jews ever since, even prior to the founding of Christianity and Islam. The tomb’s current building structure was built by King Herod 2,000 years ago with various Muslim renovations made during the Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman periods.

Israel liberated Hebron and the tomb in 1967 during the Six-Day War. Since then, it has provided free access to worshippers of all faiths.

Israeli efforts to work with the Palestinians to make holy site wheelchair accessible were bitterly opposed by the PA and the Hebron municipality. They claimed that the renovations were politically motivated. Local Palestinians appealed to Israel’s High Court of Justice, but on Nov. 4, the justices rejected their petition, removing the last legal obstacle to the work. The  $1.4 million project includes an elevator, a ramp connecting the parking lot to the tomb’s entrance and a small bridge linking the elevator to the entrance.

The PA also sought to thwart Israel with a diplomatic blitz at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In 2015, UNESCO denied Jewish ties to the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb. Follow-up resolutions declared the sites as “part of the state of Palestine” and “integral of Occupied Palestinian territory.”

The holiday of Chanukah — which celebrates the Maccabees’ defeat of the Syrian-Greek army and the miracle of a small flask of ritually pure oil lasting for eight days — is commemorated by lighting a nine-branched candelabra called a menorah.

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