Palestinians stand on the rubble of the Al-Qassam Mosque that was hit by an Israeli airstrike in the Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. (AP/Khalil Hamra)
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Known as the Grand Mosque, it was one of 63 that Israel has destroyed in its monthlong war with Hamas, according to Palestinian officials. The reason, Israel says, is that Hamas is using mosques to stockpile weapons and rocket launchers, and to hide tunnels used to infiltrate into Israel and carry out attacks. Gaza's Hamas rulers deny the accusation, saying Israel is waging a war against Islam. In Israel's week-long 2012 air campaign in Gaza, not a single mosque was hit. In the three-week 2008-2009 war with Hamas, Israel shelled 17 mosques and toppled 20 minarets, saying they were used as Hamas military antennas. It says that of the more than 3,000 rockets Hamas fired at Israel during the war, 600 were launched from civilian facilities, including 160 from mosques.In at least one attack, an ancient mosque was hit: The seventh century Al-Omary Mosque in the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, which stands next to a large, modern, two-story mosque by the same name.
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