Feb 7, 2021, Taghreed Ali
From: Al-Monitor 1
Inside the Shajaiya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, Al-Thafar Damri Mosque attests to the prestigious history of the Islamic civilization during the Mamluk period, with its facades and courtyards showing Quranic verses and embellished with decorations engraved in sandstone and pointed arches.
Kamal Al-Afghani, the imam of Al-Thafar Damri Mosque, noted that the walls of the mosque are more than 80 centimeters thick, according to the architecture that prevailed during the Mamluk period. "The mosque includes a small library with more than 200 diverse books, a center for memorizing the Holy Quran and a prayer room for women, in addition to a room containing the tomb of Prince Al-Thafer Damri.”
He said, "Eighty percent of the mosque was destroyed during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. The modern part of the mosque, built in 2010, was destroyed during the war, he said, adding that it was restored in 2015 with donations from volunteers. It includes the library, the minaret, some columns and the two iwans built of mud and stones and located on the western side of the mosque.”
"The restoration works tried to preserve the precise architectural details dating back to the old Mamluk era,” Afghani explained.
Jamal Abu Raida, director of antiquities and cultural heritage at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza, said that Israel not only targeted Al-Thafer Damri Mosque during its 2014 war on Gaza but also destroyed other mosques, such as the Mahkamah Mosque, which was also built during the Mamluk era. "The Israeli bombing operations also damaged other archaeological sites, such as the Byzantine church in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip. They also destroyed the eastern wall of the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City and caused a crack in the structure of Al-Khader Monastery in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. These attacks were intended distort historical facts and destroy the civilizations of Palestine.” (More at link below)
”Some 5 kilometers (3 miles) west of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, lies the village of Burqin. St. George Church, locally known as the Church of the Ten Lepers, is nestled on the town's mountainside (located in Area A, which is under Palestinian administrative security control). It is built over the cave where Jesus is said to have miraculously healed 10 lepers, giving it its name.”
Muhammed Sabah, the mayor of Burqin, told Al-Monitor, "St. George Church holds religious and historical significance to Christians, given the miraculous healing of the 10 lepers at the hands of Jesus Christ.”
"Jesus is said to have performed a miracle while passing through the village of Burqin on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem, and healed the sick who then went about their normal lives, as stated in the Gospel of Luke.”
He noted that the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism officially asked UNESCO to include the church on its World Heritage List in 2018, and the issue is still being discussed.
St. George's Orthodox Church, Jenin - West Bank. Photo by Antonio Ciufo/Getty Images.
Jeires Qumsieh, spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism, told Al-Monitor, "The dwindling number of Christians in Burqin in particular — and the Palestinian territories in general (which accounted for 25% of the population prior to the establishment of the State of Israel ) — is mainly… due to the poor economic and living conditions caused by the Israeli occupation, which has affected all Palestinians.”
Moein Jabbour, the pastor of the church, told Al-Monitor, "St. George Church is the fourth-oldest church in the world. (It was named the Church of the Ten Lepers) in reference to 10 people suffering from leprosy who were confined inside the cave beneath the church to prevent the spread of the disease.”
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