At 6 a.m. Tuesday, Samir Mansour answered the phone in his Gaza City home. It was the Israeli military asking if he was inside his bookstore and publishing house a little over a mile away. They said they didn’t want to hurt him and then hung up.
Not long after, the store — a beloved local institution which stood on the ground floor of a larger building — was reduced to a pile of rubble.
Founded 21 years ago, his bookshop was one of the Gaza Strip’s largest sellers of books for children, students, academics and anyone else who loved to read. He also printed books and published stories written by local authors.
“The bookstore was like my soul,” said Mansour, 53, who was born in the Gaza Strip and said he had no involvement with politics.
A spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces said Saturday that the building where the bookstore was based had been used by Hamas to produce weapons and gather intelligence.