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An Island of Shi’ite Muslim Prayer in Israel

While Palestinian terrorists continue to shoot missiles at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon (last week one hit a shopping center, badly injuring women and children: see items 10 and 11 here), today’s Los Angeles Times blog has an amazing story about the town’s one and only medical center, where Israeli victims of Palestinian attack are treated as foreign Shia Muslims pray nearby. (There are no Palestinian Shia Muslims; all are Sunni.)

(Above the shoe of an Israeli child victim of last week’s Hamas attack.)The Los Angeles Times reports, in summary:

The city of Ashkelon has been in the headlines lately, and not for its pretty beaches. The city of 110,000 has sadly joined Israel’s southern front line as rockets fired from the Gaza Strip improve in range and technology. Last week, a rocket hit a shopping mall in town; the dozens of injured were treated at the city’s Barzilai Medical Center.
Ashkelon has 5,000 years of recorded history, but when its first medical center (Barzilai) was built in 1961, nothing indicated that the hill out back was anything special. It turns out that it is a site holy to certain Shi’ite Muslims, mostly from India and Pakistan, thousands of whom have come to pray there over the years. A prayer area for pilgrims built of marble from India was opened seven or eight years ago.
… “They are quiet, peaceful people. They come in silence,” said Dr. Ron Lobel, deputy director of the medical center. “An island of Shi’ite Muslim prayer in an Israeli hospital in a Jewish state. It really is unique.” (Full story here.)


Below, photos of two of the 87 victims of last week’s rocket attack by Hamas, and the roof of the shopping center. Few major American newspapers mentioned the attack, even though President Bush was in Israel at the time.)

Tom GrossTom Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News.


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