During this genocidal war, all aspects of life are targeted without exception. As usual, the cultural life of the country is targeted as part of this relentless war against our people, which essentially aims to complete the Nakba plan that began in 1948. The grandson of the gang’s soldier who bombed the Red Cinema in Jaffa seventy-five years ago destroyed the Rashad Al-Shawwa Center in Gaza, and the same mentality that targeted the National Museum in Jerusalem during the Nakba days later targeted the Qarara Museum and the “Museum” afterward – Dr. Atef Abu Saif, Palestinian writer and the Palestinian Minister of Culture.
The war against our people in Gaza continues, and their resilience persists despite the daily crimes committed by the occupation. This blind war spares nothing and disregards all human values, ethics, and international laws. The essence of this war is rooted in the attempt to eradicate and erase our people, to displace and expel them. Therefore, it targets everything in the Gaza Strip, devastating all aspects of life, from humans to buildings, trees, and water sources. During this genocidal war, all aspects of life are targeted without exception. As usual, the cultural life of the country is targeted as part of this relentless war against our people, which essentially aims to complete the Nakba plan that began in 1948. The grandson of the gang’s soldier who bombed the Red Cinema in Jaffa seventy-five years ago destroyed the Rashad Al-Shawwa Center in Gaza, and the same mentality that targeted the National Museum in Jerusalem during the Nakba days later targeted the Qarara Museum and the “Museum” afterward. The war on culture has always been at the heart of the aggressors’ war on our people, as the real war is a war on the narrative to steal the land and its rich treasures of knowledge, history, and civilization, along with the stories it holds.
Our people, who gifted the world with the first alphabet in history and shaped its meanings and means of communication, have witnessed the rise of religions and the enlightenment of humanity from the radiance of their ethics. They will undoubtedly continue to contribute to human civilization, restoring joy and hope, elevating through singing, music, poetry, novels, stories, and tales rooted in the ever-evolving consciousness, culture, and thought of the land of the first stories.
Dr. Atef Abu Saif
Dr. Atef Abu Saif is a Palestinian writer and the Palestinian Minister of Culture. He was born in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, where he currently lives.
The Israeli occupation’s unprecedented bombardment, which targeted all aspects of history and the present in the Gaza Strip, including historical buildings, mosques, churches, cultural institutions, and museums that carry the history, heritage, and authenticity of the place, bears witness to the Palestinian people’s right to existence. It also bears witness to attempts to obliterate it. This war has affected artists, intellectuals, and writers who have lost family members and loved ones. Like more than half of Gaza’s population, they were forced to flee from north to south, leaving behind their homes, possessions, and memories. They left behind their libraries, literary legacies, rituals, musical instruments, and tools that constitute the foundation of their work and livelihood. They lost their livelihoods and temporarily lost the compass of their future, which has become unknown under this fierce aggression on the Gaza Strip. Among them are musicians who have lost their ability to listen and artists who have lost their hands and limbs. Nevertheless, some continue to create melodies for songs depicting the displaced’s suffering in Gaza. Gaza has always given us hope amidst the wars waged by the Israe- li occupation over the past years, targeting even children. The Israeli bombardment did not differentiate between safe civilian homes, educational and cultural buildings, healthcare facilities, and humanitarian services. It even deprived the Gaza Strip of medicines, food, water, and fuel, all of which are essential for sustaining life. All of this is the bitter result of a suffocating blockade lasting more than sixteen years.
Despite the difficulty of obtaining comprehensive and precise information about the losses suffered by the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, this report attempts to provide an overview of what we have been able to access. The cultural scene in the region has been subjected to
multi-layered attacks. We have lost many creative individuals in various fields, including children and adults. Twenty-eight people, including four children, were known to have been martyred. Many others were injured, including artist Amer Abu As’ad from the “Nashama Al-Badia” group, who lost his son during this aggression. The poet Musab Abu Tuha was also injured, abducted by the Israeli forces, subjected to beatings, and had his passports, family, and credit cards confiscated.
Photo : The Rashad Al-Shawwa Cultural Center in the Al-Rimal neighborhood of the Gaza City destroyed by the Israeli army.