After Israel exits Gaza, synagogues destroyed

Synagogues empty after Israeli withdrawal
Israel ended its 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip following one last difficult decision. Israeli government officials decided at the last moment not to go ahead with the destruction of 19 synagogues in the coastal strip.

Sensitivities rose to the fore in Israel after cabinet ministers announced that they would not be party to the destruction of synagogues in the territory. The government had planned to destroy the synagogues to prevent them from possibly being desecrated by Palestinians. But cabinet ministers changed their minds following stern opposition from leading rabbis.

Some Palestinians said they viewed the decision not to destroy the synagogues with suspicion because they saw it as a means for Israel to keep a presence in the area. The empty shells of the synagogues were left intact by the Israeli army as the last soldier left Gaza on September 12. Building interiors and religious fixtures had been removed to Israel.


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