Tel Aviv | Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers have broken a decades-long hiatus, marking a historic moment as they prayed at the ancient synagogue in Gaza. The fervour around this development led to "Gaza ancient synagogue" becoming one of the hottest trending Google searches in Hebrew in Israel on Wednesday, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Michael Freund, the founder of Shavei Israel and a columnist for the Jerusalem Post, took to X to share the momentous occasion, "For the first time in decades, Israeli soldiers prayed in the ancient synagogue in Gaza, which was built in the 6th century and where a beautiful mosaic floor depicting King David was unearthed years ago. Jews have returned to Gaza!!"
While several posts circulated about the soldiers' prayers, no photos were shared on social media, respecting the strict documentation restrictions during combat, as reported by The Jerusalem Post.
Dating back to 508 CE during the Byzantine period, the ancient synagogue of Gaza was discovered in 1965. Originally thought to be a church by Egyptian archaeologists, it was later identified as a synagogue with the unearthing of a remarkable mosaic featuring King David playing a lyre, labelled in Hebrew.
Measuring three meters high and 1.9 meters wide, the mosaic provides insights into the art and culture of the era. Initially mistaken for depicting a female saint playing the harp, it was later associated with Orpheus from Greek mythology, with ties to Jesus or David in Byzantine art. Unfortunately, the main figure's face suffered damage shortly after its discovery.
After Israel's capture of the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six Day War, the mosaic was relocated to the Israel Museum for restoration.
Today, it stands as a testament to the rich history of the region. Visitors can marvel at the mosaic floor of the synagogue in the Museum of the Good Samaritan, situated near the Jerusalem-Jericho Road close to the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim.
One of the most renowned panels in the mosaic floor depicts King David, identified by a Hebrew inscription reading "David," as he plays the lyre with a gathering of docile wild animals before him, The Jerusalem Post reported.