Palestinians have been quick to condemn the findings of Israel’s official enquiry into the Hebron massacre, which were announced on 26 June. The report said Baruch Goldstein, the Jewish settler who carried out the attack, acted alone when he shot 30 Palestinians, contrary to the testimony given by some witnesses that others were involved.

‘The Israeli government and the policy of (Jewish) settlement carry complete responsibility for this ugly crime,’ said Nabil Shaath, Palestine National Authority head of planning. The findings have also been condemned by Arab states, notably Syria. The government daily Syrian Times said the report did not approach the heart of the problem, namely why settlers are not prevented from carrying arms.

The five-man commission, including an Israeli Arab judge, said: ‘We do not believe that anyone can be blamed for not having foreseen the fact that a Jew would plan to carry out a massacre of Muslims in the Tomb of the Patriarchs.’ However, it did say that security was lax on 25 February when Goldstein walked into the mosque in Hebron and opened fire. It also recommended that the Israeli army’s open-fire orders should be clarified.

Israeli soldiers told the enquiry that they could not stop Goldstein because they understood that army orders prevented them from shooting Jews.

Lieutenant-General Ehud Barak told Israel Radio on 28 June that the army had already begun to implement the recommendations. This included preventing anyone from entering the holy site armed and setting up separate entrances for Jewish and Arab worshippers.