The library was loved by Palestinians and was built after years of hardship by the owner.
Israel destroyed Gaza’s biggest bookshop, the “Samir Mansour Library” on Tuesday during a targeted attack on the Kuhail building, the latest in an offensive on the besieged enclave.
When an emotional video interview with the owner Shaban Aslim surfaced online, social media users from across the world, including here in Qatar, swiftly moved to raise donations in a bid to rebuild the bookstore.
Found it, if anyone wants to help this man rebuild his bookshop. Donate anything you can if you can’t donate then share 🤍 https://t.co/NGGJm8FIg9
— Muneera Al-Thani. #BLM (@moonyra_) May 20, 2021
Soon enough, a GoFundMe page to help the owner of library Shaban Aslim.
In less than a day, up to 2,600 donors were able to raise more than $100,000, bypassing the initial target.
“With the permission of Shaaban Aslem, I’ve created a GoFundMe to help rebuild his bookstore. Can you all please share this post and the link? All proceeds will go directly to him to help rebuild his dream,” said the Twitter user who started the fundraiser.
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Opened in 2008, the bookstore was part of the Samir Mansour publishing house and soon become home to thousands of books, all of which are now under rubble.
Images that surfaced online showed “Returning to Haifa” by Palestinian author and leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Ghassan Kanafani was among a few books that survived the attack.
Following the Israeli bombardment of the Kahil building on Al-Thalathini Street, the "Samir Mansour Library" was founded beneath these rubble. The library, which smiled at passers-by and readers and was loved by all, became a relic in the blink of an eye; praise be to Allah 🙏🏼.. https://t.co/unLULbJ2Dd
— Marah Qoud| مَرَحْ قُعُدْ 𓂆 (@QoudMarah) May 19, 2021
“This [the bookstore] was my dream…I’ve gone days without food so that I could afford to open the shop,” Aslem told an Al Jazeera reporter on the scene.
Palestinians and supporters around the world have condemned the attack on the library, with many grieving the loss of one of their favourite destinations in Gaza.
“History has seen this before. In 1258 Mongols destroyed the leading library in Baghdad. The Great Library of Alexandria was burned multiple times. Burning books is the work of Empire,” tweeted Palestinian activist and poet Mohammed El-Kurd.
Gaza offensive enters tenth-night
The military offensive on Gaza has entered its tenth consecutive night, with no global action taken to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes.
At least 228 people have been killed since Israel began its attacks on May 10th, the deadliest since 2014.
Israel has targeted schools, libraries, hospitals, residential and commercial towers that housed media companies including Al Jazeera and The Associated Press.
Occupying Israeli forces have also continued to restrict movement in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood amid an ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign to forcibly dispossess Palestinians from their own homes.