Israeli rabbis give Qurans to vandalised West Bank mosque

A mosque in Beit Fajjar near Bethlehem had been torched by vandals.

Last Updated: Oct 06, 2010, 11:03 AM IST

Beit Fajjar: Six settler rabbis on Tuesday delivered a box of Qurans to a West Bank mosque, which had been torched by vandals, in an unusual peace gesture welcomed by Palestinians.

The delegation, which included prominent left-leaning rabbis Menahem Frohman and Aharon Lichtenstein, brought with them around a dozen copies of the Muslim holy book as part of a solidarity visit to a mosque in Beit Fajjar near Bethlehem.

The visit came a day after unidentified vandals driving a car with Israeli licence plates drove into the village and sprayed Hebrew graffiti over the mosque before setting it alight in a pre-dawn attack blamed by witnesses on Jewish settlers.

Several hundred Palestinians cheered as the rabbis arrived in two bullet-proofed Land Rovers accompanied by a small delegation of Israeli soldiers.

They were met by the mosque`s imam and Bethlehem Governor Abdul Fatah Hamayel, who gave them a tour of the damaged mosque and showed them the burnt remains of several Qurans, which were destroyed in the arson attack.

"We welcome the Jews to Beit Fajjar so they can see with their own eyes the crime that was committed in this mosque, which was against humanity and against religion," Hamayel told reporters.

"We welcome this delegation, which is bringing a message of peace," he said.

After talking with residents and examining the damage, Rabbi Froman, who comes from the nearby Tekoa settlement, held hands with a Muslim cleric and they both raised copies of the Quran in the air.

PTI