Books across borders: Rebuilding Gaza’s destroyed bookshop | Gaza

Gaza, Palestine – At 5am on the morning of Could 18, 2021, Samir Mansour was at dwelling watching TV, when he noticed a warning that the Israeli military was about to bomb the five-storey constructing that housed his bookshop and life’s work.

He rushed the 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) to the store on Gaza’s Universities Road – hoping to rescue some vital papers and his laptop computer – however stopped 200 metres (650 ft) away. He was afraid to go in and threat being trapped inside when the air raid hit.

A couple of minutes later, Israeli planes fired two missiles. Samir may solely watch as his bookshop collapsed.

“The constructing that hosted my goals and achievements for 21 years collapsed in entrance of my eyes,” he says. “At that second, I knew the which means of ache, what it means to lose every little thing you really liked.”

The bookshop had contained round 100,000 books, and Samir says the monetary losses have been estimated at about $700,000.

The assault was a part of Israel’s 11-day assault on the Gaza Strip that killed not less than 260 individuals and destroyed hundreds of properties and companies.

“I’ve no relationship with any armed group or political social gathering. This was an assault on tradition,” Samir says.

He has lived by two Intifadas and three wars towards the Gaza Strip, however by no means earlier than had his bookshop been destroyed.

Poster of the destroyed Gaza bookshopMahvish Rukhsana noticed this poster of the destroyed Gaza bookshop on social media and determined to assist [Supplied]

Continents away, human rights attorneys Mahvish Rukhsana and Clive Stafford Smith noticed images of the particles that was all that remained of Samir’s store – and got here up with a plan. They launched a global fundraising marketing campaign to rebuild it, calling for donations of books and cash.

They didn’t simply wish to exchange the books, says Clive, however to do it in a method that’s “the epitome of what tradition and schooling is all about, which is reaching throughout borders”.

The marketing campaign collected 150,000 books from donors, a lot of whom added inscriptions and their e mail addresses.

“We needed to encourage the human interplay between the individuals in Gaza and all all over the world regardless of the imposed siege,” Clive says.

9 months after it was destroyed, the brand new Samir Mansour bookshop opened – three flooring with greater than 300,000 books on subjects together with tradition, schooling, faith and legislation.

Mahvish believes “the success of this undertaking is a testomony to the nice in humanity.”

“Within the face of unimaginable adversity, hundreds of individuals the world over got here collectively in assist and solidarity with the individuals of Gaza.”

Now, Samir says, the bookshop is “many occasions stronger than it was earlier than”.

Al Jazeera spoke to a few of those that despatched or collected books and to these awaiting them in Gaza about what the bookshop means to them.