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Israel ‘deliberately destroying’ cultural sites in Gaza

Israel ‘deliberately destroying’ cultural and historical sites in Gaza
2 min read
21 November, 2023
The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor has accused Israel of targeting Gaza's cultural heritage, including ancient churches and mosques, as part of its war on the Palestinian enclave.
Israel bombed the historical church of Saint Porphyrius where civilians took shelter in Gaza [Getty]

Israel is "intentionally destroying" cultural and historical sites in Gaza, the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said on Monday, calling for an international inquiry into Israel's targeting of Palestinians' cultural heritage. 

The rights group pointed out that a significant portion of Gaza's Old City, targeted in intense Israeli bombardments, is an area containing ancient residences, mosques, churches, markets, and educational institutions.

The report highlights the damage to Gaza's oldest mosque, the Al-Omari Grand Mosque, famed for its minaret dating back 1,400 years. It also mentions the destruction of three historic churches, among them the Church of Saint Porphyrius, which was originally constructed in around 407 AD.

The Euro-Med Monitor also drew attention damage to the ancient Al-Balakhiya port and the Anthedon Harbour, archaeological sites dating back to 800 BC and listed on both the Islamic Heritage List and the preliminary World Heritage List.

The 400-year-old Al-Saqqa House in the Al-Shuja'iya neighborhood was also targeted and destroyed.

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Other significant sites affected include the Monastery of Saint Hilarion at Tell Umm Amer, which is over 1,600 years old, and the late Ottoman-era House of Al-Ghussein, and the Hammam of Smara.

The destruction also extends to cultural institutions, with at least six cultural centres including the Orthodox Cultural Centre, Al-Qarara Cultural Museum, and Rafah Museum, reportedly being destroyed. Five bookstores were also devastated in Israel's blitz of Gaza.

Organisations such as the Our Sons for Development Association and the Gaza Centre for Culture and Arts have also been targeted in what Euro-Med described as a "campaign against cultural heritage".