On May 18, 2021, a beloved bookstore in Gaza was destroyed by Israeli bombing.

The bookshop had contained around 100,000 books, and owner Samir Mansour says the financial losses were estimated at about $700,000.

The attack was part of Israel’s 11-day assault on the Gaza Strip that killed at least 260 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.

Continents away, human rights lawyers Mahvish Rukhsana and Clive Stafford Smith saw photos of the debris that was all that remained of Samir’s shop – and came up with a plan. They launched an international fundraising campaign to rebuild it, calling for donations of books and money.

They didn’t just want to replace the books, says Clive, but to do it in a way that is “the epitome of what culture and education is all about, which is reaching across borders”.

The campaign collected 150,000 books from donors, many of whom added inscriptions and their email addresses.

“We wanted to encourage the human interaction between the people in Gaza and all around the world despite the imposed siege,” Clive says.

Nine months after it was destroyed, the new Samir Mansour bookshop has opened with three floors containing more than 300,000 books on topics including culture, education, religion and law.

Mahvish believes “the success of this project is a testament to the good in humanity.”

Al Jazeera spoke to some of those who sent or collected books and to those awaiting them in Gaza about what the bookshop means to them.