Knight-Ridder News agency, a major news source for US dailies, reported, " 'I want to destroy everything here as they did the Al Aqsa mosque,' said Mahmoud Malahi, who told a reporter he had lost a leg to an Israeli tank when he was 15. 'I want to destroy everything here. It's a symbol of occupation. Destroying it is a symbol of Islam.'"

The news agency did not tell its readers that the Al-Aqsa mosque still stands on the Jewish Temple Mount and enjoys the same protected status as Christian and Jewish places of worship. Israel opened the Christian and Jewish holy places after it survived combined Arab attacks in the 1967 Six-Day War, and Jordanian armies fled the eastern part of the city and the rest of Judea and Samaria.

Reporters for British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), reporting on the Arab mobs that overwhelmed the Gush Katif ruins, told viewers that Israel "stole" the Gaza region. "Palestinians came streaming to the settlements that caused them so much pain, to sightsee and to loot. Israel stole thirty-eight years from them. Today, many were ready to take back anything they could," BBC reported.

The Scotsman news agency reported that the Cabinet decision not to destroy the synagogues "dampened any hopes for a more peaceful era."

The New York Times implied that Israel was at fault for the destruction and told its readers, "Israel had leveled all the other buildings in the settlements in an agreement with the Palestinians but chose, at the last minute, not to destroy the synagogues because a number of Israeli conservatives argued that it was wrong for Jews to destroy synagogues. As a result, settlement synagogues were standing and vulnerable to vandalism."

Similarly, the Associated Press wrote, "The Israeli Cabinet decided at the last minute Sunday to leave 19 synagogue buildings intact, drawing complaints from the Palestinians and criticism from the United States."

The burning of the synagogues and use by at least one of them by a Hamas terrorist for Moslem prayers came at the same time Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said that Moroccan King Mohamed VI said he would intervene to prevent desecration of the synagogues. Similar assurances were received from Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In Israel's Knesset, Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said he supports demolishing the synagogues, but not the burning. He told the Knesset, "The Palestinian Authority must destroy all symbols of the occupation....The problem is that you are asking the Palestinians to be more Jewish than the Jews."

Arab MK Abdulmalik Dehamshe said, "Synagogues located throughout the entire Arab world are being preserved, but this is a unique case.

Shas Sephardic party leader Eli Yishai stated, "I expect the Arab Knesset members to condemn the barbaric acts that are taking place in the Gush Katif synagogues." MK Uri Ariel (National Union) tore his clothes, one of the Jewish acts of mourning.

The United Nations 1947 armistice agreement provides for preserving holy places in Jerusalem. The armistice was intended to establish Israeli and Jordanian states, but Jordan and other Arab nations immediately tried to destroy Israel in what became Israel's War of Independence.

The U.N. document states, "Holy Places and religious buildings or sites shall be preserved. No act shall be permitted which may in any way impair their sacred character.... Similarly, freedom of worship shall be guaranteed in conformity with existing rights, subject to the maintenance of public order and decorum."

After the War of Independence was concluded in 1949 and Jordan took over Jerusalem's Old City and the eastern part of the capital, Christians and Jews were denied access to holy places until Israel recovered the land in the Six-Day War, in 1967.