The head of Gaza municipality reported today that the State of Israel destroyed the Central Archives of Gaza City, which contained thousands of historical documents dating more than 150 years.
On Monday, during the “pause” in fighting, they also discovered that the main public library had been destroyed.
An article published in Literary Hub says that municipal authorities in Gaza have called for the intervention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to “intervene and protect cultural centres and condemn the occupation’s targeting of these humanitarian facilities protected under international humanitarian law.”
The piece’s author Dan Sheehan reminds us that “genocide is about more than just the premeditated mass extinguishing of human life; it’s also about the calculated, and often vindictive, destruction of a people’s culture, language, history, and shared sites of community.”
The strategic evisceration of historical artifacts and culture (a clear form of ethnic cleansing) goes hand-in-hand with occupation and settler-colonialism. When Japan occupied Korea, for example, it “became a crime to teach history from non-approved texts and authorities burned over 200,000 Korean historical documents, essentially wiping out the historical memory of Korea.” (History.com)
Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and the beginning of #ReadPalestine Week. Visit publishersforpalestine.org and find a free reading list to “discover the richness and the breadth of Palestinian history, of Palestinian culture, of Palestinian words, creativity, and resilience.”