One of world's oldest synagogues bombed in Damascus
The Elijah the Prophet Synagogue in suburban Damascus is damaged as Syrian army tries to hit rebels they believed were hiding there • Former Syrian in Israel: If the reports are true [about the destruction] this is unfortunate for us Jews and for supporters of historical site conservation worldwide."
Danny Brenner, Daniel Siryoti, Lilach Shoval, Eli Leon, The Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff
The damaged synagogue in Damascus.
Photo credit: YouTube
IDF soldiers patrol in the Golan Heights over the weekend.
Photo credit: Ancho Gosh/JINI
One of the oldest synagogues in the world, the Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet) synagogue in northeastern Damascus, was damaged by a Syrian army bombardment on Friday.
The Syrian opposition reported that the Syrian army had bombarded the Jobar neighborhood in suburban Damascus, site of the ancient synagogue, believing that armed rebels were hiding there. It is not yet clear how much damage was inflicted on the synagogue.
In videos uploaded to the Internet by the rebels, it appears that the wall surrounding the synagogue compound was partially destroyed and part of the roof collapsed. In one of the videos, viewers can see English writing on the outside of the building declaring it to be the "Shrine and Synagogue of Prophet Eliahou Hanabi."
Meir David, who emigrated from Syria and lives in Haifa, told stories about having attended the synagogue.
"It is the oldest synagogue in Syria," he told Israel Hayom on Saturday evening. "There is a large yard with a building that has several rooms in it, and near them is the structure of the ancient synagogue. A large stone sits at the synagogue entrance with an engraving in Assyrian, and next to it translations to Arabic and French: 'This is the place where Elijah annointed Elisha ben-Shafat [as the next prophet, I Kings 19:15-16].' If the reports are true [about the destruction] this is unfortunate for us Jews and for supporters of historical site conservation worldwide."
Arab media outlets reported other damage over the past few days, including the rebels attacking the elite Republican Guard on Mount Qasioun in Damascus, where one of President Bashar al-Assad's palaces is located. Rebels claim they have downed two fighter jets — one in Aleppo and one in Hama.
According to reports, the Syrian army is trying to recapture peripheral areas, which have been under rebel control for several months, but so far to no avail despite their air support.
The Assad regime remains intact, however, mainly due to Iranian support. On Saturday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem hosted his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, who said, "President Bashar Assad is the legitimate president of the Syrian people until presidential elections next year."
Assad himself was interviewed by The Sunday Times and rejected any speculation that Britain would act as a mediator in the ongoing Syrian war.
"We do not expect an arsonist to be a firefighter," Assad said. "To be frank, Britain has played a famously unconstructive role in our region on different issues for decades, some say for centuries."
Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces said a series of Syrian mortar shells had landed in the Israeli-held Golan Heights.
A military spokesman said the shells landed on Saturday afternoon in an open area, causing no damage. He said they were likely stray fire from the civil war. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military policy.
He said Israeli troops were searching the area and were not immediately sure how many shells had landed. Israeli media reported at least three explosions in the area.
Stray fire from Syria's conflict has occasionally landed in Israeli-controlled territory and there are concerns the fighting could spill over the border.