Urgent call for the protection of Palestinian cultural heritage

The City of Geneva was informed a few days ago of the deliberate destruction by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) of the museum of Palestinian collector Jawdat Khoudary in Gaza, in defiance of the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and Resolution 2347 adopted by the Security Council in 2017, which condemns the illegal destruction of cultural heritage.

Filmed documents provide unequivocal evidence of the burning of the museum and the irreparable destruction of the archaeological objects it contained. This event is of particular concern to the City of Geneva’s Administrative Council, as the city has spent the best part of seventeen years safeguarding several hundred archaeological objects displayed during the ‘Gaza at the Crossroads of Civilisations’ exhibition, inaugurated in April 2007 by Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

At the request of Mr Khoudary and the Palestinian Authority, owners of these objects, and with the support of the Swiss Confederation, the City of Geneva has undertaken to safeguard these collections until the conditions for their safe and undamaged return to Gaza and the West Bank have been met. As it happens, they never have been and are even less likely to be so today.

It is worth recalling the words of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, uttered at the General Assembly on 24 March 2017: “The deliberate destruction of heritage is a war crime; it has become a tactic of war to damage societies over the long term, in a strategy of cultural cleansing. This is why the defence of cultural heritage is much more than a cultural issue: it is a security imperative, inseparable from the defence of human lives”.

In view of the responsibilities of the City of Geneva towards these collections, and considering that the defence of cultural heritage goes hand-in-hand with the defence of human lives, the Administrative Council expects the competent authorities at all levels, Swiss, Israeli and international, to intervene energetically and speedily in order to preserve the cultural and archaeological heritage of Gaza, in line with the sanctions provided for against anyone who infringes international standards in this respect.


Ville de Genève - Département de la culture et de la transition numérique (DCTN)

Félicien Mazzola

Tél. +41224186650


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Article modifié le 09.02.2024 à 09:52