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  • 23 Apr, 2024

Tim Creswell, a renowned British human geographer and poet, said: “Home is (initially) seen as a center of greater significance and interest than any other place.

by Humaira Ahad


Tim Creswell, a renowned British human geographer and poet, said: “Home is (initially) seen as a center of greater significance and interest than any other place.

A homeland is a place where people have a strong attachment and feel their rights. It contains centuries of history that shape our identity. Our connection to a place (home) is largely determined by the symbolism of that place and the physical entities we see from childhood.

Most of us will mention a certain street, shop, temple, museum, library, mosque, church, or school when talking about an event or remembering something from the past. These landmarks serve as landmarks, and memories are woven around them. But what happens if the physical characteristics that people associate with it are removed? In Gaza, the pain and suffering outweigh the death toll. To colonize the Palestinians and change the demographics of the land, the Zionist settlement of settlers destroyed important monuments, including centuries-old heritage sites in the region. Bougainvillea-lined roads, busy markets, mosques calling to prayer, Sunday mass in one of the oldest churches in the world, beaches for family walks, cemeteries - everything was destroyed. fire.

Throughout history, Palestine has been ruled by several kingdoms, including the Philistines (12th century BC), Egypt (early 15th century BC), Babylon (601 BC .) and Greece (c. 332 BC). During the reign of Alexander the Great, the country became an important educational center. The Romans also ruled here, followed by the Byzantines until they came under the rule of an Islamic dynasty. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Britain occupied Palestine during the First World War.

The many dynasties that ruled the land made Palestine a hotbed of diverse cultures. According to archaeologists, this place is linked to several ancient civilizations.

Since the emergence of illegal organizations in Tel Aviv in recent decades, they have targeted the glorious Palestinian heritage to achieve their nefarious settler goals. The regime essentially weaponized archeology and sought to create a one-sided narrative to justify its occupation of Palestinian territory and oppression of Palestinians.

Attacks to destroy archaeological sites in the Gaza Strip have increased sharply since the Israeli regime launched new attacks on the Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million people, starting on October 7. Experts say this is done to erase people's memories and connection to the country.

According to a recent report by the Gaza Strip Press Office, about 200 Christian and Islamic historical monuments and structures in the besieged area were partially or destroyed in the indiscriminate Israeli attacks. The Israeli military said it destroyed or damaged more than 200 of the 325 cultural and historical sites in the Gaza Strip.

"Silence" in Gaza.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology, exact data on the destroyed archaeological sites in the Gaza Strip is not yet available due to difficulties in conducting reconnaissance and assessing the destruction. Israel's constant attacks made their work tiresome.

Israel's recent settlements in the Gaza Strip have damaged at least 104 archaeological sites, four of them destroyed, according to a report published on November 7 by Heritage for Peace, a non-governmental organization based in Spain. This figure has doubled since the report was published.

"The ancient and archaeological monuments destroyed by Israeli forces date back to the Phoenician and Roman periods, some from 800 to 1,400 BC and some from 400 years ago," the Palestinian Authority said in a statement. On December 8, the Dae Omari Mosque, the oldest and largest mosque in Gaza, was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike. Located in the heart of the old Gaza City, this mosque is said to be the first mosque in Gaza. Heritage for Peace features the 15th-century Ibn Othman Mosque and the Sayed Hashem Mosque, where Hashim Bin Abd Manaf, the great-grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), is believed to be buried. The mosque reported damage.
The Osman Bin Qashqai Mosque in the Al-Zeytoun district of eastern Gaza was also shelled by regime forces, killing several Palestinians who had taken refuge in the mosque. The mosque was one of the oldest on the coast.

At least 104 mosques have been destroyed since Israel's genocidal assault on the Gaza Strip began on October 7, after the Hamas-led resistance movement launched an unprecedented campaign against the Israeli occupation, according to official figures. Built-in the 5th century, the Saint Porphyry Church is considered one of the oldest churches in the world. Israeli airstrikes hit the church, destroying the building and killing several people who had sought refuge in what they thought was a safe place. Among those killed at the church were members of the Gaza Strip's Christian community, which faces extinction following the regime's continued brutal bombardment.

A 2,000-year-old Roman cemetery in northern Gaza, containing dozens of ancient tombs and two rare lead sarcophagi, was also destroyed in the bombing. "Now I am in God's care."

Some museums in Gaza were destroyed, while many others were partially damaged. The Rafah Museum in southern Gaza shared two videos on its Facebook page showing the museum building partially collapsing due to Israeli airstrikes. “There were priceless valuables including tenge, jewelry, copper plates, and clothes. The Rapha Museum is now in God's care." Rafah Museum director Suhaila Shaheen said in a video posted on the museum's Facebook page. In the video, Shaheen is seen standing in the ruins of a destroyed museum.

The Al Karara Cultural Museum near Khan Younis and the Deir al Bala Museum in central Gaza were also hit by regime airstrikes. The Alcarara Museum collection reportedly includes artifacts from the Byzantine period.

Mohamed Abulehia, who helped build the Alcarara Museum in 2016, confirmed that the museum building and artifacts were significantly damaged in the missile launch. Antedon Port, Gaza's first port and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also suffered severe damage from regime bombing.

The Rashad al-Shahwa History and Culture Center, a cultural center with a theater and a library with about 20,000 books, was targeted by regime airstrikes. The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Culture listed nine publishing houses and nine libraries as damaged by bombs since October 7 and said 21 cultural centers were also partially or damaged.

The Israeli attack destroyed much of Gaza's Old City, which contained houses at least 150 years old. According to a report by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the central archives in Gaza were destroyed, permanently destroying thousands of historical documents.

ICOMOS also reported damage to El Sakka House, an important Mamluk Islamic-era cultural center built in 1661. Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, founded in 1882 and considered the oldest hospital in Gaza, was also targeted by the regime in October and partially destroyed, killing more than 470 people.

Cultural cleaning campaign

Israel continues its campaign of cultural cleansing and has also destroyed Souk Al-Zawiya, one of the oldest and most important markets in Gaza City. It is located near the Great Omari Mosque.

The 13th-century fortress Pasha Palace Museum, a powerful witness and interpreter of the history of civilization, was destroyed by the Israeli army. According to historians, this famous palace, built in the mid-13th century, was Napoleon's choice when he was in the city in 1799.

“It is very sad that we lost the Al Pasha Palace. Israeli vehicles and bulldozers that were hit by airstrikes also drove over the wreckage. The palace was treated as a museum and housed artifacts from the Canaanite, Roman, and Greek eras,” said Bisan Ouda, a Gaza-based social media influencer. Interestingly, Israel is a signatory to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

The document stipulates that signatories will respect cultural property both in their territory and in the territories of other state parties, refraining from "all hostile acts" against such cultural property or "any action resulting in the destruction or damage of cultural property." armed conflict".

Legacy of Peace described Israel's actions as "serious violations of international humanitarian law". The NGO also called on the world community to "immediately intervene, stop the crime and develop joint strategies to restore and restore the destroyed and damaged cultural heritage of Gaza".

The Palestinian Ministry of Culture also called on the international community to protect vulnerable historic buildings in the Gaza Strip amid the regime's rampant attacks.

"The crimes of attacking and destroying archaeological sites should prompt the world and UNESCO to take action to preserve this great civilization and cultural heritage," the Palestinian Authority said in a recent statement. Euro-Med Monitor, a Geneva-based human rights group, said Israel was "deliberately destroying archaeological and historical monuments in the Gaza Strip" and "openly targeting Palestinian cultural heritage".

"Destruction and attacks on historical and archaeological sites are war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and a clear violation of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Event of Armed Conflict."