Gaza's public library has been destroyed in the Israeli bombing campaign
Authorities in Gaza announced on Monday that the pause in fighting has revealed that Gaza City’s main public library was among the many civilian buildings destroyed during the war.
Officials have decried the bombing of the building as a “deliberate attempt to destroy historical documents and books”.
Photos of the destroyed building, with books scattered around on the floor, were released by the Municipality of Gaza.
Video footage shared by Storyful, an intelligence agency and open source intelligence and verification platform, showed the destroyed building and the collapsed bookshelves inside.
Municipal authorities in Gaza have called for the intervention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to “intervene and protect cultural centres and condemn the occupation’s targeting of these humanitarian facilities protected under international humanitarian law”.
Literary Hub, a daily literary website launched in 2015, compared the bombing of the library to the 1992 attack on the library in Sarajevo, where Bosnian Serb forces, stationed in the hills above the city, razed the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the ground.
They added that Israel’s destruction of cultural and historical sites in Gaza was a “way for Israel to erase all evidence of Palestinian life and Palestinian humanity”.
While the bombing has destroyed 56,450 housing units, according to Euro-Med Monitor, places of worship, media offices, hospitals and universities have also been damaged.
The Islamic University of Gaza was one of the buildings bombed by Israel, which the Israeli army alleged was a “central training centre for Hamas engineers and a training institution for the development and production of weapons”.
Videos shared online showed Israeli military fighter jets targeting the Gaza City campus. According to Euro-Med Monitor, at least 266 schools have also been destroyed in the bombings.
The rights group highlighted that Gaza's oldest mosque, the Al-Omari Grand Mosque, famed for its minaret dating back 1,400 years, has been damaged along with three historic churches, among them the Church of Saint Porphyrius, which was originally constructed in around 407 AD.
“Various cultural institutions have also been targeted by Israeli attacks, including at least six cultural centres and five bookstores which are now destroyed; most notably, these are the Orthodox Cultural Centre, Al-Qarara Cultural Museum (which was built in 1958), and the Rafah Museum,” said Euro-Med Monitor.
Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman told Al Jazeera television that Israel targeted the courtyard of Al Shifa, the biggest hospital in Gaza City, and there were casualties.
Medical facilities have become a central target of Israel's war on Gaza, with the healthcare system in the besieged territory near total collapse after weeks of intense bombing and a total blockade on fuel, water, and aid.
For more than a week, Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospital was the focal point of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, which has so far killed over 14,000 people – at least 5,800 of them children – in response to the 7 October attack by Hamas on southern Israel that left some 1,200 people dead.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 26 out of the 35 hospitals across Gaza are non-functional because of damage sustained during the Israeli military assault or the lack of power. There are nine hospitals and 18 primary healthcare centres that remain, mainly in the south, running under limited capacity, with barely sufficient medical supplies to sustain critical and lifesaving surgeries and provide care.
All hospitals in northern Gaza, where fighting has been most intense, have stopped functioning. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 164 “attacks on healthcare” in Gaza since 7 October.
"Hospitals are not battlegrounds," the UN's undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths, posted on X last Wednesday.
Hospitals and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law and direct attacks against civilians and civilian objects are prohibited.
In addition, Israeli authorities ordered the evacuation last month of 23 hospitals in Gaza City and northern Gaza, despite medical professionals saying it was “impossible” to carry out safely. The WHO called the order “a death sentence” for the sick and injured, with operational hospitals in the south already running at full capacity.
“Since the beginning of the war, Israel has been strategically attacking healthcare facilities,” Nebal Farsakh, a spokesperson for Red Crescent, told TNA, expressing serious alarm. She explained that, as a humanitarian organisation, they are facing an “extreme challenge” in providing emergency services as there are few ambulances operating and highly restricted movement in northern Gaza.
read more in our Telegram-channel https://t.me/The_International_Affairs