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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Israel anger at synagogue burning
Middle East Press

The destruction of a number of abandoned synagogues in the Gaza Strip following Israel's withdrawal leads several papers to accuse the Israeli government of appeasing its religious-conservative supporters.

Israel decided to leave intact more than 20 deconsecrated synagogues in Gaza after rabbis argued their demolition was against Jewish ritual law.

But one Palestinian paper equates Gaza's synagogues to Israeli army outposts while another warns Palestinians not to do anything that might tempt Israel to return.

Israel's Haaretz

The cabinet decision of 6 June 2004 to raze the synagogues was designed to prevent any possibility of vandalism. The Chief Rabbinate even instructed the government on how to strip the buildings of their sanctity... Everything was expected, and even the High Court gave its approval. But, at the last minute, the decision-makers abandoned reason... Most of the members of the cabinet were afraid to be seen by the public as having gone against the rabbis. They preferred to blame the Palestinians for the destruction of the synagogues rather than carry some of the blame themselves.

B. Mikhail in Yediot Ahronot

The government's zigzagging, the scores of synagogues that were demolished inside Israel, the hundreds of mosques that were destroyed here, the clarity of the halacha [religious law] that never banned the destruction of buildings destined for prayers and at times even obliged this - all these clouded the chances of the success of this exercise... Politicians and the media jumped on the Palestinian "looting" and began to compete over the strength of their denunciations of the "terrible" scenes... Official and unofficial representatives of Israeli society also protested at those vulgar shows of covetousness and lack of manners... It is possible to crown those remarks as the "highest chutzpah" but chutzpah records are broken here at dazzling speed.

Dan Margalit in Maariv

Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz decided to stay in the Likud. He will need the votes of the settlers at the party's centre. In an embarrassing populist move he [rejected] the views of the security establishment whose branches had explained to the whole world that it was a duty to demolish the buildings...

Jerusalem Post

Israelis awoke yesterday to the news that... the Palestinians' joyous burning of Gush Katif's synagogues, which the cabinet had voted not to destroy, had begun. We were also informed that the US State Department had criticised the cabinet decision not to destroy the synagogues because it "put the Palestinian Authority into a situation where it may be criticised for whatever it does"... The State Department's revealing reaction to the synagogue decision and its consequences shows that attempts to triangulate around the real sources of the conflict remain entrenched in the foreign policy establishment, even in Washington... Now is not the time for even-handedness, but for holding the Palestinians accountable for their actions.

Yusof al-Qazaz in the Palestinian al-Hayat al-Jadidah

The Jewish synagogues, the military outposts, infantry patrols and settlements are all symbols of Israeli military occupation... The settlements [in the West Bank] will become a flame burning the dreams of peace... There will be no peace with the wall and settlements.

Rajab Abu-Sirriyah in the Palestinian al-Ayyam

We have to make sure that Gaza remains free from occupation and block the way for the possibility of Israel's despicable attempt to return.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.


Mixed emotions over Gaza pullout
12 Sep 05 |  Middle East
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11 Sep 05 |  Middle East

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