The British newspaper “The Guardian” said that Israel had turned more than 200 buildings of cultural and historical importance in Gaza into ruins, including mosques, cemeteries and museums, until culture and history remained only memories for some Palestinians. and displaced persons who hope to return.
Al-Omari Mosque, or the Great Mosque in Gaza, which dates back to the seventh century, had its walls collapsed and its minaret cut down, and the history and culture of the historic downtown strip around it, the newspaper reported in a report by writer Kamel Ahmed. It was the focal point of the city, but its heritage suffered damage for more than 100 days due to Israeli bombardment of the entire city.
you will only see memories
Badr al-Zahrana, who lives in Gaza City due to the intensity of the Israeli ground crackdown, said, “The city has become a ghost town, where people walk around with pale faces and tired souls after going through this war. If you walk through Gaza's Old City, you will see only memories and you will feel disgust and sadness because of the extent of the destruction inflicted on cultural and religious sites. Anyone walking in Gaza feels as if they are in a movie. Be in a fairy tale. The scene is horrifying.”
The United Nations agency responsible for cultural protection (UNESCO) says it has confirmed damage to at least 22 sites, including mosques, churches, historic houses, universities, archives and the archaeological site of Enthedon Port, Gaza's first known port. and said it had received reports of damage to other sites but could not confirm this due to the war.
207 culturally and historically valuable buildings
A recent report by the Palestinian Ministry of Culture on Israeli damage to Palestinian heritage stated that Israeli bombardment of Gaza destroyed 207 buildings of cultural or historical importance, including 144 in the Old City and 25 religious sites. The damage included an ancient Roman cemetery and a Commonwealth War Cemetery containing over 3,000 soldiers from Britain and Commonwealth countries during the First and Second World Wars.
UNESCO warned that several sites were at risk, including St. Hilarion's Monastery, one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the region. “UNESCO is deeply concerned by the damage caused to cultural and historical sites in Gaza, and considers humanitarian emergencies a legitimate priority.” “It said. In accordance with international law, the protection of cultural heritage in all forms must also be guaranteed.”
Wissam Nasser, a photographer who now lives in Canada and has covered several wars in Gaza and documented its culture, said the loss of the Omari Mosque and its surroundings saddened him personally.
He said that, as a photographer, he will carry sadness throughout his life because these historical buildings are difficult to restore, and their loss is irreparable, “but the greatest sadness I will feel is when I go inside these archaeological sites. I will look at the pictures taken.” He said: “Unfortunately, Israel destroyed everything beautiful in Gaza.” Their goal was to destroy not only humans, but also stones, infrastructure, and historical buildings. “You want to destroy human life and cultural heritage.”
Esper Sabrin, head of the non-governmental organization Heritage for Peace, said the damage to Gaza's heritage would be permanent and go beyond physical buildings. He said what happened to the religious places would affect the social life of Muslims and Christians alike and it would take a lot of time to rehabilitate them.
Sabreen said, “The destruction of heritage in Gaza is also the destruction of traditions, it is the destruction of their customs and culture. It is a huge destruction of heritage that the people of Gaza have been deliberately separated from their land. This is important. Is” Protect it and restore. When the war stops there will be a need to evaluate what has been destroyed.”