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Cultural heritage under attack in Gaza

The genocide case brought against Israel at the International Court of Justice charges that "Israel has damaged and destroyed numerous centres of Palestinian learning and culture" in the Gaza Strip, including schools, libraries, religious sites and places of historical importance. The United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reports that in the two-and-a-half months of bombardment, more than 200 schools have been damaged—around 40% of the total number in the Strip, some 40 of them seriously. (Al JazeeraUNESCO)

UNESCO says it is also attempting to monitor damage to heritage sites in the Strip "using satellite data and information transmitted to us by third parties."

The agency has especially expressed concern over the ruins of fourth-century Saint Hilarion Monastery, part of Tell Umm Amer archeological site south of Gaza City, which has been on UNESCO's Tentative Heritage List since 2012. UNESCO placed the site under "provisional enhanced protection" following reports that it has sustained damage. The Permanent Delegation of the State of Palestine to UNESCO submitted the request for enhanced protection of the site, which is under the supervision of the Palestinian Authority's ministry of tourism and antiquities.

On Oct. 18, the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City was damaged by an Israeli air-strike. In Khan Younis, al-Qarara Cultural Museum has been damaged multiple times by Israeli air-strikes on nearby homes. The museum contains artifacts dating back to the Canaanite period.

report released by the Spain-based group Heritage for Peace in November found that at least 114 mosques had been destroyed and 200 others damaged in Gaza since the bombardment began. Among those sustaining damage are the 13th-century Othman Bin Qashqar Mosque in al-Zaytoun district of Gaza City, and the seventh-century Great Omari Mosque, the Strip's largest and oldest, located in Gaza City's Old Town. The report counted 104 out of 195 identified architectural heritage sites destroyed or damaged. (Middle East EyeThe Art NewspaperNPR)

See our last report on genocide accusations against Israel.