Friday, March 19, 2010

Synagogue opens in Jerusalem

Israel has stepped up security in occupied Jerusalem amid the reopening of what many Jews consider as one of the most important places of worship.

The rebuilt Hurva synagogue opened its doors in Jerusalem's Old City for the first time in more than 60 years on Monday.

The synagogue, first built in 1694, was first destroyed in 1721 and then demolished during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The walled Old City is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which makes the reopening of the synagogue controversial.

Al-Aqsa, Islam's third holiest site, and the Hurva are about just 700 metres apart.

"We permit believers of other faiths to conserve their places of  worship. We proudly protect our heritage, while at the same time  allowing others freedom of religion," he said.

"Israel is playing with fire and touching off the first spark to make the region explode," he said.

"Certainly the situation is tense here," she said.

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