Some 1,000 of 1,2000 mosques in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed in Israeli attacks since October 7, local authorities said on Sunday.
More than 100 Muslim preachers were also killed in the deadly Israeli offensive on the besieged enclave, Gaza’s Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs said in a statement, adding that a church, several administrative buildings and Quranic schools were destroyed in the Israeli onslaught.
These include the Great Omari Mosque, one of the most important and ancient mosques in historical Palestine, and the Church of Saint Porphyrius, thought to be the third oldest church in the entire world.
“The reconstruction of these mosques will cost around $500 million,” the statement said.
“The Israeli occupation continues to destroy dozens of cemeteries and dig up graves, violating their sanctity…and stealing the corpses inside, in a clear challenge to international charters and human rights,” it said.
“We appeal to the Arab and Islamic nations and people of conscience to fulfil their responsibilities towards the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” it added.
Israel launched an indiscriminate and relentless military campaign against the Gaza Strip on 7 October, killing over 25,000 people – mostly women and children – and wounding at least 62,000.
The Israeli offensive has displaced over 85 percent of Gaza’s population and enforced a total siege leading to acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine.
It has also destroyed at least 60 percent of the enclave’s infrastructure through repeated targeting of hospitals, schools, universities and more than 100 heritage sites.
These include a 2,000-year-old Roman cemetery in northern Gaza excavated only last year, and the Rafah Museum, a space in southern Gaza which was dedicated to teaching about the territory’s long and multi-layered heritage – until it was hammered by air strikes early on in the war.
The latest war on Gaza was not the first time Israel targeted heritage sites. Dozens of sites, including the now-obliterated Great Omari Mosque, suffered damage in 2014.
A report by UNESCO, the United Nations body that designates and protects World Heritage sites, cites further destruction of cultural and historic sites in Gaza in 2021.
(Source: The New Arab)