From the Heart of Palestine


Mazin Qumsiyeh | Palestine Museum of Natural History – TRANSCEND Media Service

15 Dec 2023 – We from the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability and the Palestine Museum of Natural History (Bethlehem University), having good long-term working relations with our cultural, natural heritage institutions and landmarks situated in the Gaza Strip, watched with horror as these same intuitions were targeted by the Israeli apartheid and occupation army. Here are just selected examples of recent destruction of cultural and natural heritage:

  1. Destroying historic churches and historic mosques. See this and this
  2. More than 100 Gaza heritage sites have been damaged or destroyed. See this and this.
  3. Destroying Al-Qarar Cultural Museum.
  4. There was a deliberate attack on Palestinian Institutions of Higher Education including direct attack on science facilities housing important collections and heritage items (both cultural and natural)
  5. Israel laid hands on Palestinian natural heritage sites and declared many areas “nature reserves” for political purposes to exclude the indigenous Palestinian people. Wadi Gaza, a unique wetland habitat, is one of the nature heritage sites that has been damaged by previous Israeli military activities, was to be rehabilitated and is now scene of deliberate Israeli destruction. See this and this and this.
  6. Israel stole Palestinian heritage books, laid hands on Palestinian cultural heritage sites, and misused areas declared “national parks”. See also this and this on looting Palestinian heritage.

We know that the destruction was/is intentional (per UN and international human rights groups) and goes hand in hand with intentional targeting of schools, hospitals, UN facilities, refugee camps, water facilities, streets, and all other facilities to make the Gaza Strip (365 km2 or 250 mi2) even more unlivable for 2.3 million Palestinians. So far, 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced (half children) and, as of this writing, over 20,000 civilians killed and 51,000 injured (70% were women and children), practically without medical facilities to assist or rescue them.

We also know that this destruction has happened in Gaza before the current events; see for example this report from Al-Haq. We know it happened in the destruction of mosques and churches and heritage during the ethnic cleansing of over 500 Palestinian villages and towns during the beginning period of the Palestinian Nakba that started in 1948 and continues today (see

We thus Demand the Following:

  • From the Palestinian authority and from scholars; document and study this destruction and take Israel to local, regional, and international courts based on global law and signed conventions
  • From the UN to add the destruction of cultural and natural heritage to list of growing crimes of the Israeli state (attempt to destroy heritage of the entire nation of Palestine is defined as genocidal act under the relevant UN Convention) and take appropriate actions.
  • UNESCO (guardian of cultural heritage), Conference of Parties of UN Convention on Biological Diversity and other conventions that are guardians of global biodiversity) must hold Israel to account and insist on restitution (including of all stolen Palestinian cultural heritage items such as the Qumran scrolls) and/or expulsion of Israel from global organizations.
  • We support and encourage the boycott of institutions and entities complicit in this destruction of Palestinian heritage along the guidelines of the global BDS movement (see this for the demands and guidelines).


Mazin Qumsiyeh, associate professor of genetics and director of cytogenetic services at Yale University School of Medicine, is founder and president of the Holy Land Conservation Foundation and ex-president of the Middle East Genetics Association. He won the Raymond Jallow Activism Award from the national Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee in 1998. He is co-founder and national treasurer of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and has written extensively about the Middle East. Qumsiyeh is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, author of Sharing the Land of Canaan and Popular Resistance in Palestine, a professor at Bethlehem University and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History in Bethlehem.

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Join the BDS-BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, SANCTIONS campaign to protest the Israeli barbaric siege of Gaza, illegal occupation of the Palestine nation’s territory, the apartheid wall, its inhuman and degrading treatment of the Palestinian people, and the more than 7,000 Palestinian men, women, elderly and children arbitrarily locked up in Israeli prisons.

DON’T BUY PRODUCTS WHOSE BARCODE STARTS WITH 729, which indicates that it is produced in Israel. DO YOUR PART! MAKE A DIFFERENCE!


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