I went to the Gaza Strip to photograph the trauma faced by children as a result of war. I found great resilience amongst the Palestinian people living in a war torn environment despite hardship faced during daily life. The occupation has devastated daily life for men, women and children.
The Gaza Strip a surreal landscape where memory and history is being destroyed and distorted. Most Palestinians want a peaceful life with a ‘normal’ future.
It can be a frightening place to be. Some areas like Rafah and Gaza City face military action on regular basis. Photographing in the Strip has to be done with discretion. Many civilians are armed and disagreements can lead to heated arguments and death.
I made links with the United Nations, Save the Children and Medicine sans Frontiere which enabled me to access certain places. The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme allowed me to meet children and families affected by trauma.
A few email exchanges between UK and Gaza: 30th Dec 2008 and 28th Jan 2009:
30.12.08 from Gaza: Hi Bip, Thanks for the thoughts. my family and I are still alive but i can’t promise you this will last! We are living war now and the israelis seem to be willing to kill as much people as they can.
30.12.08 from Gaza: I am home, air raids are taking place all the time, yes i can see some tanks lining up.
from the Rabi Hove: ‘Of course the situation in Gaza is terrible and it is very sad it has got to this. However let me share with you something: In May of last year I visited Sderot, the Israeli border town closest to Gaza. I saw the rockets for myself: More than that, half an hour after our party left the town a further volley of rockets landed. I did not know of you then, but ask yourself this: Did you raise a voice in anger then? Hamas refuses to recognise Israel. It uses its territory to trouble the Israeli population: I grant that it is one thing to send rockets and another to bomb from the air. But Hamas has chosen this path: Now it is reaping the consequences.’
01.01.09 Israeli military spokesman via Sky News: ‘there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza’
01.01.09 from Gaza: all family members are ok, i am fine, I am not home now, i am doing press coverage for Press TV as i joined their press team just today.
01.01.09 from Gaza: I will try and take photos for you my little chubby darling 😛
04.01.09 from Gaza: They lost 9 of their soldiers yesterday and 20 others were injured. there is some news about Hamas military wing kidnapping two israeli soldiers. I think they don’t know what they drove themself into….
05.01.09 from Gaza: I am working on live coverage of events here, kids are ok and they’re coping pretty well. We are all still alive.
09.01.09 from Gaza: I am here and i am still alive, no worry
- Wondering if a thousand dead in Gaza is a benchmark for the Israeli ‘end game’!
- War crimes tribunals won’t go anywhere because not enough people on positions of power want to change the status quo.
- Only the voice of the USA can make any real lasting difference to the situation, and ultimately they have cause the deaths of many innocent civilians, both Palestinian and Israeli.
28.01.09 from Gaza: We are all ok here and kids are feeling better after the war is over.