Ancient monuments – including the Great Omari Mosque, said to date back to the time of the Philistines, and St Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church, the third oldest church in the world – now lie in ruins. A 14th-century bathhouse in Gaza's old Zaytoun quarter suffered the same fate, according to Nada Bashir (CNN).
With the destruction of Gaza's Central Archive, historical documents and national records have been lost. The Rashad Al-Shawa Cultural Centre — a cultural hub once home to a theatre, library and events space — has also been reduced to rubble.
In all, more than a hundred heritage sites have been damaged or destroyed. In a chilling reminder of the Nazis' reprisal attack in Lidice, a graveyard has been bulldozed. While the Nazi regime preserved the old Jewish quarter of Prague as a 'museum of an extinct race', the present impulse is not to memorialise anything. It is to erase it.
This destruction has come as a result of relentless bombardment by Israel, with the use of AI on the one hand, capable of generating up to a hundred targets a day, and on the other, a variety of 'dumb' bombs whose targeting and damage are often indiscriminate.
Read more: A look at Israel's AI-generated 'mass assassination factory' in Gaza
The effect on Palestinian culture is not always as conspicuous as the death of a renowned poet. The South African testimony describes how a beloved pastry chef, Masoud Muhammad al-Qatati, known as Father of the Poor, was killed in an airstrike on his house on 3 November.
Al-Qatati had a reputation for giving away the popular Palestinian treat 'knafeh' to impoverished customers. The motto of his shop was 'Let the poor eat'.
While the damage to the cultural identity of Palestinians is profound, the war has had a detrimental effect on Israeli culture, too.
However, the impact of the settler mentality on the Israeli population has been more insidious. Its malign influence predates the Hamas attack and was even, arguably, one of its causes. A large portion of the IDF was busy in the West Bank, protecting the settlers, when the incursion took place.
Beyond Israel, unsurprisingly, settler attitudes have had a weaker influence over the many Jews living in the diaspora. In London, some Jewish protesters joined the anti-war demonstrations. In the States, as long ago as October, like-minded Jews marched on the Capitol demanding a ceasefire. Hundreds were arrested.
It is also clear that a great many others have chosen to distance themselves from Israel's actions. One such individual, a doctor and professor of international health at Johns Hopkins University, has written about being ostracised after coming to the aid of the Gazans.
No one questioned the purity of Paul Spiegel's motives when he carried out humanitarian work in places like Afghanistan and Ukraine, but since working in Gaza, he has been accused of betraying his Jewish heritage:
'...my work is motivated by core Jewish values, particularly tikkum olam or repairing the world; pikuach nefesh or saving a life; and chesed or loving kindness' (Guardian, 9 January 2024)
Since the assault on Gaza began, such values have been in as short supply there as food and electricity.
According to Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist supportive of Palestinian rights, this can be attributed to conditioning from an early age: "There's a whole machinery of brainwashing in Israel which really accompanies each of us from early childhood, and I'm a product of this machinery as much as anyone else."
"(We are taught) a few narratives that it's very hard to break. That we Israelis are the ultimate and only victims. That the Palestinians are born to kill, and their hatred is irrational. That the Palestinians are not human beings like us... So you get a society without any moral doubts, without any question marks, with hardly any public debate. To raise your voice against all this is very hard."
That was written over a decade ago. A recent article by Etan Nechin reinforces Levy's argument. He maintains that the settlers believe they were blamed for the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and that the Israeli public felt no sympathy for them over the subsequent unilateral withdrawal and evacuation from Gaza.
The settlers determined, says Nechin, 'that it was no longer enough to simply capture another hill and expand their physical settlements; to ensure the movement's future, they needed to "settle in the hearts" of the Israeli people. By embracing the mainstream media, they could narrate their story and integrate the settlement ideology into the Israeli ethos. Luckily, they found a willing partner in Netanyahu.'
After losing an election to Ehud Barak in 1999, Netanyahu resolved to acquire his own media outlet. He ended up with two: the free newspaper, Israel Hayom, and Channel 14, founded in 2014. A plethora of new hard-right outlets followed.