PA Official Brands Chanukah Celebrations at Me’aras Hamachpelah as ‘War Crime’

YERUSHALAYIM -
A menorah on the top of Me’aras Hamachpelah in Chevron, last Chanukah. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The Palestinian Authority’s most senior Islamic cleric harshly condemned the placing of a Chanukah menorah at Me’aras Hamachpelah in Chevron, calling it a “war crime,” Palestinian Media Watch NGO reported Monday.

Imam Mahmoud al-Habbash is the PA’s top Islamic judge and a senior adviser on religious affairs to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Furious, Habbash said the move was nothing short of “sacrilege” and a “desecration” of the holy site, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews, who believe it to be the tomb of the Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs.

Israel “is exploiting every opportunity, and particularly the Jewish holidays, in order to commit crimes and plans that desecrate our Islamic sites in Hebron,” he claimed in a statement cited by the PA’s WAFA news agency.

He also proclaimed that only Muslims have rights to the site, known in Islam as the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Prior to Chanukah, the PA’s Supreme Fatwa Council called the placing of the menorah a “provocation” and attempt to “erase Islamic history” while creating “a fake Jewish character” at the site.