Rabbi Menachem Froman, right, watches as Korans are given to Palestinians at the mosque in Beit Fajar.
Rabbi Menachem Froman, right, watches as Korans are given to Palestinians at the mosque in Beit Fajar. (Ammar Awad)
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

west bank

Rabbis bring Korans to burned-out mosque

In a rare act of conciliation Tuesday, a group of rabbis from Jewish settlements near the Palestinian town of Beit Fajar visited a mosque there that had been torched by arsonists and brought Korans to replace those burned in the blaze.

The attackers, who struck early Monday, left behind Hebrew graffiti and are suspected to be radical Jewish settlers.

The rabbis, from the Gush Etzion cluster of settlements south of Bethlehem, arrived in a convoy of Israeli military jeeps escorted by Palestinian police.

"I am sorry and ashamed," Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, a prominent Orthodox leader, told Palestinians in the damaged mosque. "There are people who set fires and commit violence on both sides. We are looking for a way to be partners of those of us and you who believe in the possibility of peace, and want to reach peace."

Shlomo Riskin, rabbi of the neighboring settlement of Efrat, said, "Whoever destroys, whoever murders and whoever burns the house of God will be punished from the heavens." Rabbi Menachem Froman, an advocate of contacts with Muslim leaders, handed over a boxful of new Korans.

Local officials urged Israeli authorities to catch the arsonists, noting that no one has been prosecuted for previous desecrations of mosques in the West Bank in the past year.

- Joel Greenberg


2 nights of explosions strike Kandahar

Two explosions rocked Kandahar on Tuesday, the second night of deadly blasts in the southern city where U.S. and Afghan forces are ramping up operations in Taliban-held areas.

A car bomb and a second, smaller blast in the city killed nine people, including a policeman, officials said.

On Monday night, three explosions, minutes apart, killed four Afghan police officers in Kandahar. Also Monday, four NATO troops died in attacks - three in the south, one in the east - that brought the coalition's October death toll in Afghanistan to 11.

- Associated Press

Election official held

Afghan police have arrested a top election official on fraud charges related to last month's parliamentary elections, and authorities further delayed a final tally, the electoral agency said Tuesday.

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