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Israel-Palestine: Landmark Jaffa mosque vandalised overnight

The imam of Hassan Bek Mosque shared footage on social media of broken windows in the house of worship
A view of the Hassan Bek mosque in the ancient port city of Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv, on 19 February 2010 (AFP)

A landmark mosque in the ancient city of Jaffa, now part of Tel Aviv in Israel, was vandalised overnight, according to the mosque’s imam. 

Ahmed Abu Ajweh, imam of Hassan Bek Mosque, shared a video on Facebook showing damages to the mosque discovered on Thursday morning ahead of the pre-dawn prayer. 

The video shows one of the windows broken and minor damages to the carpet. No injuries were reported, according to Abu Ajweh.

Hassan Bek Mosque, located in the Manshiyya neighbourhood of the historically Palestinian Jaffa, has been the subject of attacks in the past. 

In 2018, a man shouting anti-Muslim slurs threw a glass bottle containing an unknown substance towards the mosque, according to Abu Ajweh. The imam told local news website Arab48 at the time that while no injuries were reported, the attack “was not the first of its kind”.

In recent months, Palestinian citizens of Israel living in Jaffa have been facing threats of eviction, sparking tensions in the coastal area. 

Palestinian protesters were attacked in April by police and followers of Rabbi Eliyahu Mali, the head of a militant synagogue in Jaffa that is seeking to take over Palestinian properties in the area.

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Sami Abu Shehadeh, a Knesset member of the Joint List that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel, told Middle East Eye at the time that altercations began after supporters of Mali entered al-Ajami neighbourhood in Jaffa and “started to march provocatively”.

“At the time, people came out from Ramadan evening prayers and were attacked by settlers, and Israeli police joined in attacking them instead of stopping the settlers,” Abu Shehadeh said. 

Rabbi Mali is the head of "Settling in the Hearts", an Israeli settlement expansion project that pushes for the establishment of Jewish-Israeli outposts in the middle of Palestinian-majority towns and neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem and Israel, as well as in the occupied West Bank. Settlements and outposts in the occupied territories violate international law.

Jaffa was once an epicentre of the Palestinian economy, with some 120,000 people living in and around the flourishing city on the Mediterranean Sea in 1948.

Almost 95 percent of the Palestinian population of Jaffa and its surrounding villages were expelled by Zionist militias during the Nakba - or "catastrophe" - that year, leading to the establishment of the state of Israel.

Over the decades, Jaffa's historic neighbourhoods have been progressively demolished, leading the city to shrink into a small town that was then absorbed by the municipality of Tel Aviv.