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GAZA: An iconic bookshop in southern Gaza that was reduced to rubble in the 2021 war and rebuilt last year has been severely damaged in an Israeli airstrike, leaving its owner devastated.

Samir Mansour, 59, found the three-story bookstore he rebuilt last year severely damaged in Israel’s heavy airstrikes on Gaza.

A video posted on the bookshop’s official Instagram account showed the Palestinian owner, a Gaza citizen, walking over the shattered ruins of his lifetime project. The father of six only hoped he could protect his family.



Speaking exclusively to Arab News by WhatsApp from Gaza, the Palestinian publisher said buildings can be rebuilt and money can be returned, but “we just hope we make it out alive.”

He added: “The situation here is dangerous and it keeps getting worse. We hope to remain safe until these difficult days pass. Keep us in your prayers.”

The Samir Mansour Bookshop was reduced to rubble in the 2021 war on Gaza. Back then, images of the demolished store went viral on social media, sparking a global fundraising campaign.

With the help of generous donations, Mansour rebuilt the bookshop from the ashes on an area spanning more than 1,000 square meters, triple the size of the original store. He stocked the bookshop with a bigger collection of 400,000 books in various languages, covering children’s stories, science, philosophy, self-help, art, history, fiction, novels and poetry.

His bookshop grew to be a favorite spot among students and passionate readers since opening in 2000 on a busy Gaza City block near three universities. But now, it stands as a symbol of Gaza’s resistance.

The owner said his dream of supplying knowledge to his community and building a generation of readers would never die, even if his fate remains unknown.

“We have no choice but to be strong and resilient,” he told Arab News.

“We will stand strong in all this destruction and sadness that we never really recovered from.”

Israel has ordered a complete siege of densely populated Gaza and lately intensified its strikes on the strip, leaving more than 1,500 Palestinians dead. On Friday, Israel ordered an evacuation of northern Gaza ahead of a feared ground invasion.

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