An ancient synagogue near Damascus has reportedly gone up in flames after being robbed and vandalized.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opposition forces are each blaming the other over the destruction, according to a report in a Hebrew-language daily newspaper.
But this is not the first report of the destruction of the sacred Eliahou Hanabi (Eliyahu HaHavi) shrine and synagogue.
A video posted online by the Syrian opposition showed the same synagogue – one of Judaism’s holiest sites -- severely damaged in shelling by Syrian government forces in the Damascus district of Jobar earlier this month.
The video, which appeared on the pan-Arabic Al Arabiya news website, showed a clear photo of the marble plaque indicating the “Shrine and Synagogue of Prophet Eliahou Hanabi since 720 B.C.
The 2,000-year-old house of worship was perched upon the cave the according to ancient tradition was used by the Biblical prophet Elijah to conceal himself from those who would arrest and prosecute him.
The synagogue, allegedly built by the Biblical prophet Elisha, and subsequently repaired during the first century CE by the Torah sage, Rabbi Elazar ben Arach, is one of Syria’s oldest.
It stands at the site where Elijah anointed Elisha as a prophet, to follow him.
Reportedly there have been almost no structural changes whatsoever to the synagogue since it was built, making it especially unique architecturally as well as historically -- at least until the savage civil war prompted by the region wide "Arab Spring' launched in March 2011 arrived in Syria.
It is clear nevertheless that the preservation of the holy site has been a rare miracle at best.
Writer Jack Koury added a “Note” to his March 2 post about the incident on the “War in Iraq” blog, showing that the synagogue’s destruction – and related attacks on Jews – are being encouraged by outside forces as well as those within Syria.
“Dear Al-Assad, please destroy any sign of Jewish existence in your country, this maybe (sic) the only chance you have right now. After rebellion is dead you will not able (sic) to do that. Do not waste the crisis “as jews say” And Rebels are only tools in Jewish hands! May God Bless you”