(IsraelNN.com) The ancient synagogue in Jericho, known as the Shalom Al Yisrael (Peace on Israel) synagogue has been destroyed by Arab vandals, says the former head of the yeshiva that studied there until the start of the Oslo War.
Fortunately, the Torah scrolls were saved because they were in a safe. But all the sacred books were destroyed, said Mordechai Rabinowitz who headed the yeshiva up to the signing of the Oslo Accords.
The ancient synagogue, dating from the Byzantine period, was discovered under an Arab house after Israel conquered Jericho in the Six Day War. Israel turned the site into a national park, and the house above the synagogue eventually became the yeshiva study hall. Jewish residents were never given permission to take up residence at the site.
The synagogue, however, became a major tourist attraction in the Jericho area and served as a powerful reminder of the Jewish bond to the ancient city.
A Jewish presence was supposed to be maintained at the site under the ill-fated Oslo Accords that transferred control over the Jericho area to the Palestinian Authority in 1993.
The Oslo War resulted in the abandonment of the site and its subsequent destruction by Arab vandals under the Palestinian Authority.