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Greek synagogue damaged in arson attack

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ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — The only synagogue on the Greek Island of Crete sustained significant water and smoke damage in an arson attack.

Some 30 antique Turkish carpets also were damaged when the Etz Hayyim synagogue in the city of Hania was set ablaze Tuesday night by unknown attackers. The synagogue’s Torah scrolls were not damaged.

The arsonists reportedly climbed over the synagogue’s iron gate and made an improvised firebomb using stuffing from a couch in the synagogue’s mikveh to ignite a canister filled with flammable liquid, then placed the firebomb under the wooden staircase leading to the women’s section.

The upper floor of the women’s section serves as the office of the director, as well as a library and reading room. Among its volumes are valuable books in various languages on Ottoman, Byzantine and Jewish art and architecture.

An Albanian immigrant who lives near the synagogue saw the smoke and called the police and firefighters.

There is little security at the synagogue, according to reports. Situated in the heart of the Jewish quarter, the synagogue dates back to the late 15th century.

Also in the attack, a bar of soap was thrown against the outer wall of the synagogue to illustrate the common Greek anti-Semitic expression "I’ll make you into a bar of soap."

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