Syria – Following reports that the 2,000 year-old Jobar Synagogue in Damascus was destroyed in a March mortar attack by Assad forces and that its artifacts and Torah scrolls were being held by an al Qaeda affiliate seeking to leverage them in prisoner exchange agreement, new photos have been released seemingly showing the synagogue completely intact, and its contents safe.
THE TIMES OF ISRAEL (http://bit.ly/1crqUcl) reports that Moti Kahana, an American Jew in communication with Syrian opposition forces, has released photos of the inside of the synagogue, including several that included a dated sign bearing his name for verification purposes.
Kahan also reports that he has been given assurances by opposition forces that the synagogue’s Torah scrolls and Judaic artifacts are in safekeeping, and will be returned when proper safety measures are in place.
The reports also said that opposition forces were committed to guarding the synagogue around the clock.
While the reports and photos have yet to be fully confirmed, Mandy Safadi, former chief of staff for ex-Lukid MK and deputy minister Ayoub Kara, said the photos denote the “positive connection” between most Syrians and Israel, a connection most want to see strengthened.
“We are receiving more and more requests [from Syrian opposition figures in exile] to meet with Knesset members and representatives of Israel, something that we have not seen in the past,” said Safad. “The decision to protect the synagogue is a kind of confidence-building measure.”