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Writers, artists, scientists: Gaza mourns its cultural losses

Amid the more than 25,000 Palestinians reported killed in the Israel-Hamas war, there is a hidden, second toll: the writers, artists, scientists, and professors whose deaths have left a gaping hole in Gaza’s social fabric.

The list of names of those who have contributed to the cultural life of Palestinians in Gaza is growing by the day.

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War’s destructiveness extends beyond a tally of lives and structures lost; it extends to the richness of cultural life as well. Palestinians in Gaza say the loss of artists and academics who touched and inspired them will be felt for generations.

Colleagues still mourn Muhammed Sami Qraiqea, a 24-year-old visual and digital artist. As a volunteer with the Tamer Institute for Community Education, Mr. Qraiqea went to classrooms and hospital rooms teaching children arts, crafts, and theater.

He spent his last days and hours using art to alleviate the psychological stress of children and families seeking refuge in the al-Ahli Arab Baptist Hospital, where he was among those killed in an explosion Oct. 17. Marking his death, the Tamer Institute commended his commitment to the “resilience of humanity amidst the ruins.”

For many artists, the war has reinforced the relevance of a quote oft repeated by Mr. Qraiqea. Upon observing the aftermath of the Shatila camp massacre in Lebanon in 1982, French novelist Jean Genet said, “The struggle for a country can fill a very rich life, but a short one.”

The Gaza Health Ministry announced this week that the number of Palestinians killed by Israel’s offensive in Gaza surpassed 25,000.

But there is a hidden, second toll: the writers, historians, artists, scientists, and university professors whose deaths have left a gaping hole in Gaza’s social fabric and in the hearts of people touched and inspired by them.

It is a loss, they say, that Palestinian society will feel for generations to come.

Why We Wrote This

A story focused on

War’s destructiveness extends beyond a tally of lives and structures lost; it extends to the richness of cultural life as well. Palestinians in Gaza say the loss of artists and academics who touched and inspired them will be felt for generations.

Colleagues still mourn Muhammed Sami Qraiqea, a 24-year-old visual and digital artist who devoted his life to using art and technology to chronicle Palestinians’ plight and brighten the lives of young Gaza residents.

As a volunteer with the Tamer Institute for Community Education, Mr. Qraiqea went to classrooms and hospital rooms teaching children arts, crafts, and theater.

He spent his last days and hours using art to alleviate the psychological stress of children and families seeking refuge in the al-Ahli Arab Baptist Hospital, which was struck Oct. 17 by ordnance whose origin is disputed but believed by experts to have been a misfired Islamic jihad rocket.

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