Gaza opens first English library

Despite political obstacles, Gaza sees the opening of its first English library.


A Facebook page called Library & Bookshop for Gaza has gathered 200 books and $2,000 in donation from international sponsors to build Gaza’s first English library.

Mossab Abu Toha, a 24-year-old Gazan who graduated from the Islamic University of Gaza, started the crowdfunding campaign as he saw political hindrances had made it difficult for Gazans to access books from across the world.

According to BarakaBits, Toha pushed through with the initiative despite obstacles in the Israeli postal service. In an interview with Al Jazeera, he said, “Freedom is a state of mind. [With books], you’re liberating yourself by living in an imaginary world where there are no boundaries … If I choose to be free, I can be free through my writing, through speaking.”

The Islamic University of Gaza’s library director, Mamdouh Firwana, also said, “For 10 years, we were going to Cairo to purchase books, but for the past five years, we can’t go because of the security situation and because of the bad relations between Hamas and the Egyptian regime.”

The initiative was widely received by authors and academics alike, so much so that American philosopher Noam Chomsky himself donated books to the library.

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