Thousands of Arabs arrived on Wednesday at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron to mark the anniversary of the Muslim prophet Muhammad's ascension to heaven.
The official Palestinian Arab news agency Wafa reported that Muslim citizens of Israel as well as citizens from Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and Singapore took part in the event.
Maher Maswadah, the mufti of Hevron, said at the event, "We are patient because victory comes thanks to patience and salvation will come after grief."
"The holy site of Abraham (the Islamic name of the Cave of the Patriarchs -ed.) belongs to us and the occupation has no right to prevent us from entering it and being in its courtyards, its corridors and its streets," claimed the Mufti.
The site’s Muslim director, Hafzi Abu Sneineh, said, "The attacks of the soldiers and settlers of the occupation are intended to expel us and Judaize the holy place and ancient Hevron.”
Palestinian Authority (PA) officials have often accused Israel of trying to desecrate the Cave of the Patriarchs, in one incident taking issue with Israel placing a flag and a lamp in the area.
The PA claims ownership of the Cave of the Patriarchs and received backing on this claim last year, when the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization declared that site and the surrounding Old City of Hevron to be “Palestinian heritage sites.”