An Ancient Mosque in Northern Israel May Be the Oldest Unearthed Anywhere

Jan. 26 2021

In the years after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the city of Tiberias emerged as a center of Jewish life and learning, and remained so into the early Islamic period. It also experienced a renaissance of Jewish life under Ottoman rule. Now, after eleven years of painstaking excavations of one of the city’s ancient mosques, a team of archaeologists led by Katia Cytryn-Silverman has discovered an even older mosque beneath it, likely built in the 7th century. The Times of Israel reports:

Cytryn-Silverman, of the Hebrew University, said it is the oldest mosque in the world that can be excavated. Other ancient mosques are either still being used or have had other mosques built on top of them, hindering research. It has [thus] been difficult to know exactly what the original buildings looked like.

A clue to when the older mosque was built came from earth used as filling in the foundation, which was brought in from elsewhere. By consulting with an archaeologist in Yemen, Cytryn-Silverman was further convinced that “the construction technology used at the ancient mosque, a simple and pragmatic style uncharacteristic of the region, apparently first came to Israel at the start of the Arab conquest in the 7th century.” She said the technology itself may have originated in the Arabian Peninsula.

Following the Arab conquests of the region, . . . Tiberias became the capital of Jund al-Urdun, the Jordanian military district, making it a political and economic center. The site is close to the remains of a Byzantine church that was in use from the 5th to the 10th centuries, and which archaeologists say was the largest in the Galilee. They believe a large synagogue may have stood alongside it.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Galilee, Islam

Iran’s Responsibility for West Bank Terror

On Friday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer and was then shot by another officer after trying to grab his rifle. Commenting on the many similar instances of West Bank-based terror during the past several months, Amit Saar, a senior IDF intelligence officer, predicted that the violence will likely grow worse in the coming year. Yoni Ben Menachem explains the Islamic Republic’s role in fueling this wave of terrorism:

The escape of six terrorists from Gilboa prison in September 2021 was the catalyst for the establishment of new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank, according to senior Islamic Jihad officials. The initiative to establish new armed groups was undertaken by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in coordination with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, implementing the strategy of Qassem Suleimani—the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who was assassinated in Iraq by the U.S.—of using proxies to achieve the goals of expansion of the Iranian regime.

After arming Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Iran moved in the last year to support the new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank. Iran has been pouring money into the Islamic Jihad organization, which began to establish new armed groups under the name of “Battalions,” which also include terrorists from other organizations such as Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. First, the “Jenin Battalion” was established in the city of Jenin, followed the “Nablus Battalion.”

Despite large-scale arrest operation by the IDF and the Shin Bet in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad continues to form new terrorist groups, including the “Tulkarem Battalion,” the “Tubas Battalion,” and the “Balata Battalion” in the Balata refugee camp.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank