Palestinians Restoring Ancient Synagogue in Holy Land

Ein Diuk Is near Jericho

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JERUSALEM, OCT. 7, 2002 ( Restoration work is under way at the ancient synagogue of Ein Diuk near Jericho, in the West Bank.

A group of young Muslim Palestinian restorers began to work on the synagogue in a site where 2,000 years ago the Jewish village of Naaran was situated, in the rocky desert that surrounds the biblical city of Jericho.

The work of the six experts in mosaics, which originated in Nablus, Tulkarem, Jericho and Bethlehem, will last six months. The project is being financed by the Department of Cultural Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The project has been entrusted to CISS, a Palermo-based nongovernmental organization in charge of the organizational aspects.

The restoration is under the direction of Palestinian Osama Hamdan, who two years ago restored the Byzantine church of Burkin, near Jenin, also in the West Bank.

«This synagogue is part of the Palestinian cultural heritage and, therefore, it must be carefully preserved,» Hamdan said.

The Ein Diuk synagogue is located within zone A of Jericho, which has been under Palestinian control since the 1993 Oslo agreements.

The discovery of the Jewish temple dates back to 1918, when a cannon ball shot by Turkish batteries installed on the banks of the Jordan uncovered a mosaic pavement in excellent state, near the fountain of Al Diuk, after which the place is named.

In recent years, Israeli authorities expressed their concern over the synagogue’s fate and some Israeli archaeologists offered to undertake the work of restoration.

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