‘More than wonderful’ … Gaza Bookshop to Reopen After it Was Destroyed by Israeli Airstrikes

After it was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes, Samir Mansour’s beloved book store has been rebuilt and restocked, as tens of thousands of books flood in from around the world.

1Tens of thousands of donated books have started to arrive at the new location of a Gaza bookshop that was destroyed by Israeli air strikes last year, and owner Samir Mansour now plans to reopen its doors next month.

The two-storey Samir Mansour bookshop, which was reduced to rubble last May, had been founded by the Palestinian Mansour 22 years ago and was a beloved part of the local community. Its destruction during the 11-day conflict, which killed more than 250 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel, prompted a campaign that raised $250,000 (£187,000) to help rebuild it, plus donations of 150,000 books. The Israeli military has said that the store was not its target, claiming that the building that housed it also contained a Hamas facility for producing weapons and intelligence-gathering.

Mansour is now preparing to reopen as both a bookshop and library, in a new location less than 100 metres from the original site. The new building, which cost $340,000, needed to be gutted and remodelled, and Mansour spent $70,000 of his personal savings building wooden shelves, tiling and installing electrical supplies. All funds generated by the campaign, which was launched by human rights lawyers Mahvish Rukhsana and Clive Stafford Smith, have gone towards the project, with the blockade imposed on Gaza sending costs spiralling.

Rukhsana, an American human rights lawyer working at 3DC in London, said that book donations had flooded in from around the UK, as well as from abroad, with the first cargo container of 50,000 books arriving in the Gaza Strip last week. Shipping of the remainingbooks will follow.

“I was so happy when I saw the first shipment had arrived … I felt like a reborn phoenix,” said Mansour. “I did not expect all this support. But it was something beyond imagination and something more than wonderful.”

“He lost approximately 90,000 books in the bombing and our goal was to collect 100,000,” said Rukhsana. “We were immediately flooded with books and volunteers who wanted to donate time, vans, cargo trucks, money, and lots of books.”

A volunteer from Peterborough, Rabea Zia, helped Rukhsana manage 70 regional book drives across the UK; there were 20 book drop-off locations in London alone.

“It started in volunteers’ homes. This became a challenge because garages, kitchens and living rooms were fast flooded with books. Some people held drives in restaurants and coffee shops, which also were flooded quickly and had to be cleared regularly,” said Rukhsana. “We made an appeal for vans. Volunteers borrowed cargo vans and began clearing homes. Central storage units were rented to accommodate the growing number of books. Our garage in Ascot was fast filled with about 30,000 books. Another 20,000 came in from Scotland. Another 20,000 from Leicester, Manchester, Croydon. And small publishing houses donated new books.”

The lawyer said that any time it started to feel like too much for the volunteers, they would find a solution. “A cargo company approached us via social media and volunteered to put the books on pallets and stack them with forklifts in a warehouse. From there, another wonderful company called Awesome Books volunteered trucks to pick up from storage locations around the country. They sorted by genre and packed into storage containers,” she said. “It was challenging because of the Brexit-related trucking shortage, but everyone worked together patiently. It was amazing to see how a global community came together and wanted to support this project. Over 4,800 donors gave money from around the world to support his fund.” Rukhsana also explained how donors were encouraged to write messages inside the books, leaving their email addresses so that the books’ new owners can get in contact should they wish.

The only request Mansour made was for Harry Potter books, because they are so popular with children in Gaza. Many people bought new Harry Potter box sets for the drive, said Rukhsana, with one volunteer selling cupcakes and baked goods for a month to raise money to buy JK Rowling and Roald Dahl book sets.

One man from Santa Barbara spent over $300 shipping three boxes of books to the drive, and more books were shipped in from Greece, France, Italy, UAE, various US cities and Singapore. “There were multiple requests to hold book drives internationally. We had to decline drives because we exceeded our target fast,” said Rukhsana. “Volunteers worked until 1am driving and collecting books and then thanked us for the opportunity to be involved in a tangible way.”

The name of the store, when it opens on 12 February, will remain the same, Samir Mansour Bookshop. “I think the community will support the idea of the new bookstore, especially as it is close to the same place that was destroyed,” said Mansour. “We are in a very bad economic situation. So we are hoping for the best and we will see what happens in the future.”

Rukhsana said that she and the other volunteers were “really proud to see the books now arriving in Gaza to people who are truly in need of literature and escape.

“When Israeli war planes bombed this bookshop it was a further attack on the community’s access to knowledge. This campaign was a gesture of solidarity, an attempt to restore dignity and the fundamental right to books,” she said. “The large-scale global outpouring of support was unexpected. Also unexpected was the intense desire so many had to be tangibly involved in making this right.”

(Source / 29.01.2022)

Palestinian Prisoner Is Unable to Make Voluntary Movements, Needs Permanent Assistance

Days of Palestine – Ramallah – The prisoner, Nasser Abu Hamid, is still unable to make voluntary movements and uses a wheelchair to move around, and he needs permanent assistance to meet his daily needs.

The Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Authority called on the Israeli Prisons’ Administration to transfer the prisoner “Abu Hamid” to a civil hospital that would provide him with the necessary medical treatments, warning of the dangers of his current presence in the “Ramla Prison” clinic, due to its lack of medical equipment for his health condition, noting that efforts are being made at all levels, to release him.

Last Tuesday evening, the occupation prisons administration transferred the prisoner Nasser Abu Hamid from Barzilai Hospital to the Ramle prison clinic, despite the seriousness of his health condition and his need for intensive medical follow-up.

The authority held the prison administration fully responsible for the life of the prisoner Abu Hamid, usually when he was transferred from “Barzillai” an official decision to execute him, and said: “The real-time has come for his immediate release, and to stop his killing.”

(Source / 29.01.2022)

Palestine Official Warns of ‘Catastrophic’ Situation in Gaza

DAYS OF PALESTINE – GAZA – A Palestinian health official on Friday said the Gaza Strip is passing through a “difficult and catastrophic” situation due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

“The infection curve is rising at an accelerating and unprecedented rate,” Fathi Abu Warda, an adviser to the Palestinian minister of health, told reporters in Gaza, adding that 95 patients are hospitalized with 63 in critical condition, and the occupancy rate of intensive care beds reached 56 percent.

Abu Warda called on every citizen who suffers from COVID-19 or has any COVID-19 related symptoms should go immediately to the hospital, noting that 48 percent of the admitted patients in the hospitals in the Gaza Strip “are cases infected with Omicron.”

“The current cold weather that hits the Palestinian territories and the lack of power in the Gaza Strip that reaches 12 hours blackout per day amid a shortage of warming means” have helped the spread of the virus, he said.

“So far, 30 percent only of the Gaza Strip populations have received the vaccinations,” Abu Warda said, adding that the health ministry urges people to get jabbed.

On Friday, Palestine reported five fatalities and 5,380 new COVID-19 cases in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry’s daily coronavirus report. 

(Source / 29.01.2022)

Israeli Forces Injured 26 Palestinian Protestors in West Bank

DAYS OF PALESTINE – WEST BANK – Israeli occupation forces shot and wounded 26 demonstrators with rubber-coated metal bullets during on Friday after attacking the Palestinian protesters near three West Bank cities, Palestinian medics and eyewitnesses said.

Clashes broke out between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers in villages south and east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Clashes also broke out in the southern West Bank city of Hebron and the northern West Bank city of Qalqilya, said medics and eyewitnesses, adding that Israeli soldiers fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators.

Palestinians weekly protest against the Israeli confiscation of Palestinian lands and expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

(Source / 29.01.2022)

American Organization Publishes Video Shows the Killing of 78 Palestinian Children by “Israel” in 2021

An American organization has shown on YouTube a video showing the killing of 78 Palestinian children by the Israeli occupation forces during the year 2021.

The American organization “If Americans Knew”, which supports Palestinian rights, published a two-minute video about 78 Palestinian children killed by “Israel” in 2021, and one Israeli child.

The film contained references documenting the information mentioned in the video, and this was accompanied by the organization’s launch of a campaign to stop the financial support provided by the United States to “Israel”.

The campaign included a demand for members of the US Congress, who voted to give “Israel” billions of dollars in taxes collected from Americans, as it invited them to watch the video to learn how “Israel” uses American tax money to kill innocents.

The organization also called on members of Congress to display the video in parliamentary committee meetings.

The Defense for Children International – Palestine Branch had said that since 2000, the occupation had killed about 2,200 Palestinian children.

The Israeli occupation authorities launched an aggression on the Gaza Strip for 11 days, which ended with a ceasefire on May 21.

During the aggression, about 260 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, most of them children, and hundreds were injured, according to data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

(Source / 29.01.2022)