An online book shop is donating 1,000 books to a store in the Gaza Strip, which was completely destroyed in the recent Israeli aggression.
Leicester-based Books2Door heard how the two-storey Samir Mansour shop was demolished, destroying its stock. Owner Abdul Thadha saw an online campaign to rebuild the store and offered his help.
The Samir Mansour bookshop was built 21 years ago and was known for being Gaza’s largest. Two storeys tall, it was home to tens of thousands of books. On 18 May, the store – along with most of its books – was destroyed by Israeli air strikes.
Organisers said they had raised more than $200,000 (£142,000) and received tens of thousands of books nationwide. The Samir Mansour book store stocked a wide range of subjects, including a section in English. Posts on the bookshop’s Instagram page showed the damage. Books could be seen to be strewn across the ground underneath the rubble. One caption under a post read: “The library that smiled at passers-by and readers and was loved by everyone has disappeared; praise be to God.”
Following its demolition, residents in Sheikh Jarrah rallied to set up their own bookshop of the same name. For many of them, the unity of the two bookstores represents the unity between Palestinians in Jerusalem and Gaza.
A GoFundMe fundraising page was set up soon after the original Samir Mansour bookshop was destroyed. In a matter of days, the page raised over $150,000, which will be used to restore the shop. Over 3000 individuals have so far donated, with many leaving messages of hope and support.
It is estimated 100,000 books were lost. On Book2Door website Mr Thadha wrote: “he immediately contacted the fundraising organisers to arrange for an initial donation of 1,000 books. This collaboration is a heartfelt gesture to help the Gaza bookstore to rebuild it’s 21-year-old heritage. Samir Mansour’s book store was renowned for stocking everything from philosophy and art history, to fiction, children’s and self-help books. Abdul explains, “When I saw this, my heart sank. The story is devastating and without any hesitation I knew we could help. It doesn’t matter that we are based in the UK. We have shown our support and genuine compassion by shipping 1,000 children’s books. This is just to begin with. We were kindly informed by the fundraisers that Samir had a diverse, eclectic collection so we hope we have done him proud.”
Among the volumes donated by his company are classics like the Sherlock Holmes stories and Enid Blyton adventures, along with newer best sellers like David Walliams.
This is not the first bookshop in Gaza that has received such widespread attention. A similar fundraiser raised over $130,000 for Shaaban Aslem’s bookshop, which was also reduced to rubble by Israeli bombing.
Human rights lawyer Mahvish Rukhsana, one of the organisers, said: “We wanted to give the people of Gaza their access to books back and to help Samir back on his feet to serve the community.
“International relief organisations are quick to repair hospitals, roads and infrastructure, but smaller enterprises such as libraries are often overlooked.”
Follow the Samir Mansour campaign here: