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UNESCO: Concerned by Israel attacks on cultural heritage in Gaza

February 23, 2024 at 11:07 am

A view of damaged building as the historical buildings such as mosques, churches, baths and bazaars are damaged or destroyed by Israeli attacks in Gaza City, Gaza on January 06, 2024. [Bilal Salem – Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) yesterday expressed its “deep” concern about the impact of Israeli attacks on cultural heritage in Gaza.

UNESCO stated in a written statement to Anadolu‘s correspondent that the cultural heritage in Gaza is now at risk due to Israeli attacks since 7 October 2023.

It pointed out that protecting cultural heritage in the Palestinian territory is currently difficult due to a lack of preservation policies, resources and conflicts.

The UN agency affirmed that the Israeli occupation of Gaza has caused “a wide-ranging humanitarian crisis and material destruction” affecting all aspects of civilian life.

It added that efforts to protect historical buildings in Gaza are limited due to the security situation and access barriers, and investigations into the current status of old buildings have only been conducted using satellite images.

In this context, it clarified that images taken by the United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) confirm that as of 21 February, at least 22 protected areas, including five places of worship, one museum, and three archaeological sites, have been damaged in Gaza.

UNESCO called on the parties to adhere to the 1954 Hague Convention, which prohibits the destruction and damage to cultural heritage in armed conflicts.

It urged for providing all conditions to protect cultural heritage threatened with extinction due to the Israeli occupation, emphasising that life-saving activities in Gaza are a “legitimate priority.”

Read: Israel assault on Gaza’s heritage exceeds Mongol ravages – Palestinian Minister