I don’t think I will ever forget what I saw and what I heard in Shejaiya, an eastern neighborhood of Gaza city that was reduced to rubble during the 2014 attack on Gaza. I will be posting here–all still in raw form–some of what I saw there, and some of the painful stories I heard.
Below: the site of a destroyed clinic. I was photographing Sabrina Ibrahem from PCHR, my colleague Fadi Abu Shammalah and a few people who were working on clearing out the rubble. As I was photographing them, Fadi photographed me.
Sabrina had just finished telling Fadi and me the devastating story of a mother pregnant with twins who was killed by a bomb, which ripped open her womb. Sabrina got on the scene to document right after it happened–she saw the killed mother and fetuses. She broke down crying as she recounted it to us…but yet here she is minutes later: strong, resilient, smiling. Sumoud.
I saw no reconstruction at the site of this destroyed clinic. What I did see was ongoing clearing of rubble. The system: Men and boys loaded the rubble onto carts drawn by donkey or horse. Then, the cart was pulled onto the main road, and the rubble was transferred onto a giant truck. When full, the truck drove somewhere. To do something with the mountains upon mountains of rubble collected:
The only time I have ever broken down and cried during an interview was when speaking with Talal and Leila Al Helo. 12 members of their family killed in an airstrike on their home. Here is Talal, on the rubble of the home in which 12 of his family members were killed:
Those killed included Talal and Leila’s 26 year old daughter:
And their three grandchildren: 2 year old Maram, and twin six month old boys, Karam and Kareem.
I promised Talal and Leila that I would do all I could to make sure that their story was known and that people remembered those babies, and knew their names. Maram. Karam. Kareem.
Leila showed me a video of Karam and Kareem, talking to each other in that special twin baby talk, filmed the day before they were murdered. Watching that video– Fadi and I both lost it.
Look at the pictures, and, please, say aloud those babies’ names: