On Friday, the Gaza City Council announced the destruction of the Al Omari Mosque, the largest and oldest in the Gaza Strip, due to Israeli shelling. In an official statement on Facebook, the council expressed condemnation for the attack, characterising it as part of Israel’s policy of destruction. Originally built as a Byzantine church in the 5th century, the mosque had been converted by Arab generals under Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab in the 7th century during the early Muslim rule in the Strip.
Following the incident, the Gaza City Council urged UNESCO to intervene and denounce the occupation’s actions against Gaza’s symbols, monuments, and heritage. Israel was accused of intentionally destroying religious and national monuments, seen as embodiments of the Palestinian people’s identity.
In a separate incident on Thursday, Israeli attacks targeted the ancient mosque of Otman Bin Qashqar, also located in Gaza’s Old City, resulting in injuries and fatalities. The Gaza City Council reported significant destruction in the Strip’s Old City, including approximately 20 historic buildings. Furthermore, nine publishing houses and libraries, along with 21 cultural centres, were reported as either totally or partially destroyed.
The impact on institutions preserving Gaza’s historical memory extended to attacks on the central archive of Gaza City Hall, as highlighted by Birzeit University, a Palestinian academic centre in the West Bank, on Thursday. The Gaza Strip continues to witness severe consequences and damage amid the ongoing attacks.