The IFLA Middle East and North Africa Regional Division Committee has been following with concern the situation faced by libraries and librarians in Gaza, and supporting efforts to gather and share information relevant to both safeguarding cultural rights, and supporting the upholding of international law.

The scale and extent of the damage incurred by cultural heritage due to Israeli attacks on Gaza is massive. The losses are significant, widespread, and perhaps unprecedented. Numerous cultural heritage sites, including archaeological sites, historic buildings, and religious monuments, libraries, museums, and archives have been heavily attacked if not demolished.

Cultural heritage encompasses the physical remains and intangible traditions that are passed down from generation to generation and contribute to a community’s identity and sense of belonging. In the context of Gaza, its cultural heritage reflects the rich, ancient, and diverse cultural heritage, which is at risk of being totally eroded or lost.  Israeli army strikes appear not to have differentiated between military targets and civilian infrastructure, including cultural heritage sites. This raises concerns about the proportionality and adherence to international humanitarian law and the violation of international conventions protecting cultural heritage during conflict.

As institutions concerned with preserving cultural heritage, members of MENA RDC are concerned with documenting and reporting the state of cultural heritage in its member states including Gaza in Palestine.

One example of such a report noted by the Regional Division Committee is that produced by Librarians and Archivists with Palestine on Israeli Damage to Archives, Libraries, and Museums in Gaza, October 2023–January 2024. A Preliminary Report from Librarians and Archivists with Palestine

IFLA’s response to the situation in Gaza is set out in our statement of 23 October 2023.