The Israeli airstrikes on the occupied Gaza Strip over last weekend caused significant damage to a well-known cultural centre and an educational facility for children.
According to The National, Gaza’s Arts and Crafts Village was “severely damaged” when one Israeli strike “hit an unfinished building right next to the village”.
Jomma Alzaem, who owns an antiques brass shop in the Village, told The National: “I believe that Israel wanted to target the village, not the building. They targeted Palestinian heritage, a heritage that they don’t own”.
“I spent years collecting the brass. I had items about 100 years old. My shop was considered as a tourist attraction, and now all of the brass and relics are under rubble”.
Nihad Shaqlih, director of the village, said it was completely damaged by the Israeli strikes.
“The village contains archaeological items and brass hundreds of years old but all of it is under rubble. It is an attempt by the Israeli occupation to destroy and erase our heritage, but we will rebuild the village again to protect Palestinian history”, she said.
The National added: “Now paintings and historical objects lie scattered on the ground, along with shards of pottery. Some shops are partly destroyed – the ceilings collapsed, walls cracked. Inside the building, broken glass crunches beneath the weight of people’s footsteps”.
Meanwhile, a partner organisation of US NGO Humanity & Inclusion (HI), also saw “their work severely disrupted as a result of damage caused by the indirect impact of airstrikes close-by”.
According to HI, the premises – in a building “adapted to welcome children with disabilities” – provides “education and play facilities for children”, and “sustained indirect but widespread damage as a result of nearby airstrikes”.
HI noted that “many rooms are now unsafe and unusable and several disability-friendly facilities have been destroyed”.