Palestinian bookshop to reopen after unexpected worldwide campaign

A Palestinian bookshop was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in May 2021. Now, it’s been reopened after a global fundraising campaign.

Founded 21 years ago by Samir Mansour, the Samir Mansour bookshop was a beloved part of the local Palestinian community and contained hundreds of books in various languages covering all genres of fiction, non-fiction; prose, and poetry.

In May 2021, during the deadly skirmish between Israel and Hamas that killed over 250 people, the Samir Mansour bookshop was obliterated in one of several airstrikes. While the attack was a crushing blow to the cultural lifelines that [kept] besieged Gaza connected to the outside world, the international crowdfunding effort was swift.

palestinian bookshop 2
The ruins of the Samir Mansour bookshop in May 2021. (Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

Organized by human rights lawyers Mahvish Rukhsana and Clive Stafford Smith, a fundraiser was created to restore the Palestinian bookshop and library and astonishingly raised over a quarter of a million dollars.

As per a report from The Guardian, Rukhsana said that in addition to funds, “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.”

“[Samir Mansour] 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.”

“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.”