Mosque overlooks synagogue ruins
Mosque overlooks synagogue ruinsIsrael news photo

A group of Jews, in a rare visit to the ruins of an ancient synagogue in an Arab village southwest of Hevron, was shocked to discover swastikas scrawled on the walls by Arabs. Israel National News learned that the discovery was made last Friday morning, the same day that Muslims in Samaria accused Jews of setting fire to the second floor of a mosque in a village in Samaria.

Photo: Swastika on ancient ruins   The ruins of the ancient synagogue are in Samoa, a village located in the southern Hevron Hills between Hevron and Be’er Sheva. Samoa’s Arabs have been involved in terrorist attacks against Israel since before the 1967 Six-Day War, and army-escorted public tours to the ruins are rare, the last one having been organized eight years ago.

The ruins were first discovered in 1934. The synagogue dates back to the fourth century, and Jews apparently abandoned it in the eighth century, during the beginning of Muslim rule. Muslims have built a mosque adjacent to the ruins.

Dr. Doron Sar-Avi, who teaches history, geography and Biblical archaeology, told Israel National News the swastikas were not on the walls when he last visited the ruins, with the commander of the Hevron Brigade, two years ago.

He said he was surprised at the defamation, particularly because the ruins have stayed intact despite fears that they would be dismantled by Muslims in Samoa. Dr. Dar-Avi explained that most ruins, such as those from the same period of time near Susiya (a Jewish town in the southern Chevron hills), happen to be in Jewish communities and are not located in the middle of an Arab village.

Photo: Former place of altar and Holy Ark   Dr. Sar-Avi speculated that one reason Arab have not destroyed the ruins may be that the ruins may serve as supports for an adjacent mosque. However, he also noted that several Arab homes in Samoa include  doorposts that stood in the ruins, including a depiction of menorahs.

The synagogue that existed in ancient Samoa is significantly larger than the more widely-known ancient synagogue in nearby Susiya, he added.

Both synagogues were built around the same time, and Jews abandoned them for unknown reasons, possibly because of a declining economy, desert marauders or the Muslim conquest. Whereas the mosaic floor, steps, some columns and the entrance to the Susiya synagogue remain intact, little remains in Samoa except for the walls and stones where the Holy Ark once stood.                                                             




Photo: Swastika at entrance        There are two entrances to the ruins, one of which now is defaced by a swastika.