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Tuesday Dec. 21, 2010 5:18 PM (EST+7)
Gazans, cut off from Jerusalem shrine, pose with model

Read more: Palestinians, Gaza, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Jerusalem

GAZA, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Palestinians in the Gaza strip, prevented by Israel from making the short journey to visit the Dome of the Rock, are flocking to have their photos taken with a model of the shrine, Islam's third holiest site.

The wooden model of the golden-domed structure that punctuates Jerusalem's skyline, built on a site also revered by Jews, was made by activists from Hamas to mark 23 years since the founding of the Islamist group, which seized Gaza in 2007.

It was later moved to Gaza City's main square where members of the public, many of whom have never seen the real thing, have been posing for photos.

University student Rima al-Wadeya, 20, who had just had her picture taken by a friend, said she had never been to Jerusalem which is less than two hours away by car. Others said they visited decades ago, before violence erupted in late 1980s.

Getting to Jerusalem is like an impossible dream ... so we are taking a picture, trying to fool ourselves, Wadeya said.

Israel maintains a blockade of the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, because its Islamist Hamas rulers call for the destruction of the Jewish state and allow militants to operate against it from the coastal enclave.

Hamas seized the territory in 2007 from Palestinians prepared to negotiate peace with Israel. (Writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi; editing by Philippa Fletcher)






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