For the first time in years, IDF soldiers pray in ancient Gaza synagogue

During ground operation in Gaza, IDF soldiers came across and prayed in a synagogue that housed a now-legendary King David mosaic. 

By World Israel News Staff

For the first time in decades, Jews have prayed at a historic Byzantine-era synagogue in Gaza City.

As IDF soldiers made incursions into Gaza to clear the area of the Hamas terror group, they were given the opportunity to say prayers in a 6th-century synagogue. 

Soldiers were not allowed to post pictures for security reasons.

However, the founder of the Shavei Israel organization, Michael Freund, posted about the event on X. Freund wrote, “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!!”

The mosaic Freund describes was recovered during the Six-Day War in 1967 after Israel captured the Gaza Strip.

Although the face of the male figure is badly damaged, the mosaic retains its beauty and characteristics of the Byzantine period. It is currently displayed at the Israel Museum. 

Egyptian archaeologists originally believed the mosaic was from a church and the human figure was mistaken for a female saint or the Greek god Orpheus. However, the figure is King David, as evidenced by its inscription with the name “David” in Hebrew, and depicts the Biblical shepherd turned king playing a harp to calm animals.

The synagogue is located in the Rimal district in Gaza City, which was once a bustling port. It dates from 508 C.E. and has many of the hallmarks of Byzantine art and architecture. 

A replica of the mosaic can be viewed at the Good Samaritan Museum on the Jerusalem-Jericho Road in Ma’ale Adumim in Judea.