Just nine months ago, Samir Mansour watched his entire life’s work go up in flames. For decades, the Samir Mansour Bookshop was Gaza’s largest bookshop and a thriving community hub crammed with Palestinians socialising, learning and reading books. But it was all destroyed in May 2021, its tens of thousands of books reduced to rubble by an Israeli airstrike.
The Israeli military alleged that a Hamas cell was operating in the same building as the bookshop: claims which Mansour has strongly denied. But instead of being demoralised by such enormous destruction, the owner has decided to build back his old shop even bigger and better than before.
In the months since the airstrike, Mansour (along with human rights lawyers Mahvish Rukhsana and Clive Stafford Smith) has mustered a seriously impressive international fundraising effort to rebuild the shop. More than 5,000 people contributed to his cause, donating £189,000 ($250,000) and around 150,000 books. Who says humanity’s gone down the shitter, eh?
The new store opened in February in a new location about 100 metres from the crater of the original. It has three floors and contains more than 300,000 books, ranging from children’s stories and art books to fiction classics – and it all looks simply delightful. Here are a few pictures of Mansour’s dazzling store:
Got five minutes to spare? Want to tell us what life is like in your city? Take the Time Out Index survey here.