Gaza’s oldest mosque reduced to rubble

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Hamas has condemned the alleged Israeli attack, calling it a “barbaric crime”

Gaza’s ancient Omari Mosque has been bombed by Israeli warplanes, with the landmark being almost totally destroyed, the Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed on Friday.

Images being shared on social media and identified by RT reporters in Gaza as being of the Omari Mosque showed massive damage to the building, with only its ancient stone minaret standing. The Great Omari Mosque is considered one of the most important and oldest mosques in Palestine and the first one to be constructed in the enclave.

Hamas reacted to the incident by calling it a “heinous, barbaric crime” as cited by Reuters, and urged the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to protect historic buildings in Gaza.

It would not be the first time civilian infrastructure, including cultural and heritage sites, has been targeted by Israeli Defense Forces as they carry out retaliatory strikes.

The fighting began on October 7 when Hamas attacked Israel, killing about 1,200 people. Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of using civilian infrastructure, including mosques and schools, to hide its fighters.

Another place of worship, the Othman bin Qashqar Mosque in Gaza City, was hit by air raids on Thursday, Hamas said. The group also condemned the destruction of the Hammam al-Samara, a 1,000-year old Turkish-style bath in the territory.

The Palestine Ministry of Culture said Israeli warplanes had bombed eight museums since the beginning of the conflict, including the Rafah Museum, Al-Qarara Museum and the Khan Yunis Museum, in addition to destroying most parts of Gaza’s Old City, including dozens of historic buildings.

Israel has also reduced nine publishing houses and libraries to rubble and destroyed or partially damaged at least 21 cultural centers. In its latest report, the NGO Heritage for Peace found that 104 out of 195 architectural heritage sites in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed. More than 17,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the conflict, according to Gaza Health Ministry figures, and much civilian infrastructure has been destroyed.

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