Ancient synagogue near Jericho vandalized overnight

Ancient synagogue near Jericho vandalized overnight

Swastikas, pro-Palestinian slogans spray-painted on walls, mosaic of Jewish site; MKs condemn incident, warn against backlash

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

An ancient synagogue in Na’aran, near Jericho, was vandalized overnight Thursday with swastikas and pro-Palestinian slogans.

The vandalism was discovered early Friday morning, when local settlers came to the synagogue to pray. They found swastikas and pro-Palestinian slogans in Arabic, among them “Palestine belongs to us,” sprayed on the walls, floors and beams at the entrance to the synagogue. An ancient mosaic was vandalized as well.

Various MKs condemned the incident.

“I call on the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to address the damage to the synagogue as if it were a mosque,” said MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union), warning that failure by the authorities to address the issue could trigger acts of revenge.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, meanwhile, said the incident was not surprising, adding that it proved Jewish sites should remain under Israeli sovereignty if they are to be preserved.

“Small wonder that the Palestinians, who destroyed and desecrated the findings on the Temple Mount, have no qualms about desecrating an ancient synagogue,” said Edelstein.

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said she would convene an urgent meeting at the Knesset to discuss the incident.

Also on Friday, a fire erupted at a synagogue in Elad. Firemen were able to salvage two Torah scrolls.

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