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September 13 2013

Gaza Palestinians feel pain of new Egypt border restrictions | Reuters

Gaza Palestinians feel pain of new Egypt border restrictions | Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/12/us-palestinians-egypt-gaza-idUSBRE98B0IY20130912

Before Egypt’s military ousted Mursi - who Hamas regarded as an ally - in July after mass protests against his rule, some 1,200 people a day used to cross at Rafah, Gaza’s main window to the world. Now, Egypt allows in only 250 each day.

Notons toutefois que lorsque Mohamed Morsi était président, des centaines de tunnels ont été fermés et noyés avec l’eau des égouts. (CF posts précédents).

#Gaza #Egypt #Rafah #tunnels

September 08 2013

Ghazza fi bâli. « Alors que l'étau se resserre sur Gaza, les Palestiniens affrontent des jours les…

Ghazza fi bâli.

« Alors que l’étau se resserre sur Gaza, les Palestiniens affrontent des jours les plus noirs » - Ali Abunimah

http://www.ism-france.org/analyses/Alors-que-l-etau-se-resserre-sur-Gaza-les-Palestiniens-affrontent-des-jo

http://www.ism-france.org/photos/gaza-070913.jpg

Ces tweets (1) du blogger Omar Ghraieb illustrent parfaitement le désespoir que ressentent les presque 1,7 million de Palestiniens résidant à Gaza, tandis que le blocus israélien, exacerbé par la répression qui s’intensifie côté égyptien, conduit une fois de plus leur territoire au bord de la catastrophe.

#Gaza #Palestine

August 15 2013

February 15 2013

L'Egypte inonde des tunnels conduisant à Gaza

(Reuters, via Le Nouvel Observateur) - Les forces armées égyptiennes ont inondé plusieurs tunnels de contrebande rejoignant la bande de Gaza sous contrôle palestinien, dans le but de les fermer, ont déclaré les autorités égyptiennes et palestiniennes.

Le réseau de tunnels est essentiel à la vie de Gaza, permettant l'importation d'environ 30% de tous les biens atteignant la bande de territoire enclavée et soumise à un blocus israélien depuis plus de sept ans.

Des reporters de Reuters ont vu qu'un tunnel servant à faire entrer sur le territoire du gravier et du ciment a subitement été rempli d'eau dimanche, obligeant les travailleurs à l'évacuer à la hâte.

Selon les habitants, deux autres tunnels auraient été inondés de la même manière, par de l'eau délibérément pompée par l'Egypte.

 

Plus : http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/monde/20130213.REU7281/l-egypte-inonde-des-tunnels-conduisant-a-gaza.html


// oAnth: une gallerie des photos commentées (via Égypte actualités) -

http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/portfolio/2013/02/14/a-gaza-l-indispensable-economie-des-tunnels-de-contrebande_1832812_3212.html#ens_id=1559455&;



Reposted from02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa

June 08 2012

March 01 2012

Brave witness: Tom Hurndall

Peace activist Tom Hurndall died at 22 after being shot by an Israeli sniper. His images and articles, that grew in intensity as his journey became more difficult, are published in a new book

Tom Hurndall was a peace activist and an aspiring photojournalist. His photographs, alongside his journals, bear witness to the often terrible, sometimes uplifting, events he saw and experienced while living among families in Iraq, in a refugee camp in Jordan, and in the Gaza Strip. It was there on 11 April 2003 that he was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier while attempting to rescue a child who had been pinned down by gunfire. He died nine months later in hospital in London. He was 22.

It is difficult, then, to look dispassionately at the photographs in The Only House Left Standing: The Middle East Journals of Tom Hurndall, which is published by Trolley Books this week. They are a mixture of reportage and citizen journalism of the most intense kind; a visual record of struggle and conflict left by someone who comes across as extraordinarily committed and fearless. As his writings show, though, Hurndall grappled with his fear every day. He travelled to Baghdad in 2003, one of a group of "human shields" who arrived just before the invasion by American and British troops, determined to protest the war in the most direct and dangerous way. In a series of articles emailed to Manchester Metropolitan University's student magazine, Pulp, he wrote honestly and without self-pity about his constant doubts and creeping fears. One sentence stands out: "When a man must lie to himself to do what he knows he should, that is when you know he is terrified."

It is hard to equate these words, this kind of self-knowledge, with the handsome, short-haired, unshaven young man who smiles out from the first photograph in the book, cigarette in hand. He looks like a student about to begin a gap year, having just landed in some faraway country where adventure awaits. Like the emails and articles that punctuate the book, the photographs grow in intensity as his journey becomes ever more difficult, ever more dangerous.

He took photographs inside a power station in Baghdad, on the streets of Amman, and in the Al-Rweished refugee camp just five kilometres from the Iraq border. He had an eye for light and shadow, for the snatched portrait, and for capturing a mood, whether joyful or sombre. By April 2003, he had arrived in Israel and, as the veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk writes in his foreword, was heading "inexorably towards Gaza where he was confronted by the massive tragedy of the Palestinians".

In Jerusalem, on 3 April, he wrote of the death of Rachel Corrie, who had been crushed to death by an Israeli defence force bulldozer while acting as a human shield near the Rafah refugee camp. "I wonder how few or many people heard it on the news and just counted it as another death, just another number … "

In the final section of the book, Rafah, Gaza, 06-11 April 2003, there is a series of Hurndall's photographs from the frontline of the protests against the Israeli tanks and D-9 bulldozers demolishing Palestinian houses. They are both dramatic and oddly intimate, a view from the ground of dirt and destruction, chaos and violence as well as the strange sense of calm determination that comes from the civilians in bright orange jackets who line up before these massive and intimidating machines.

In his journal, Hurndall describes that day's events: "It was strange. As we approached, and the guns were firing, it sent shivers down my spine, but nothing more than that." The entry ends: "Any one of us could be watched through a sniper's sights at this moment. The certainty is that they are watching, and it is on the decision of any one Israeli soldier or settler that my life depends …"

The last picture that Hurndall took was a black-and-white shot of a street in Rafah at 1.30pm on 11 April 2003: a burnt-out car in the foreground, two children in the middle distance. The final picture in the book was taken by someone else. It shows him being carried unconscious by two local youths, both of whom are shouting for help. To the left, another youth is clutching his head in horror and despair. What looks like a camera bag is hanging from Hurndall's waist. Beneath it, the dusty street is stained with blood.

In the frantic few minutes before this picture was taken, according to a first-hand account by the local co-ordinator of the International Solidarity Movement, Hurndall had rescued a young boy "trapped under fire behind a sand mound". Having carried the boy to safety, he went back to the same spot to rescue a young girl and, "as he was attempting to carry her, he got hit in the forehead by an Israeli sniper bullet".

Hurndall's journals, as Fisk puts it, "show a remarkable man of remarkable principle". His photographs, too, are testament to the strength of his commitment to the cause of non-violent protest, and to his courage. He caught the world around him in all its uncertainty and, as it grew more dangerous and threatening, his eye grew keener. The images he produced became, by turns, more unflinching and reflective. They tell their own story of a brief life lived to the full.

Now see this

To celebrate the publication of a photobook called Lyrics of Love, the first solo show of the work of the great Lithuanian photographer, Algirdas Šeškus, runs at London's White Space Gallery from 1-10 March. The exhibition brings together some of his iconic images from the 1970s. His style is impressionistic and centres on the everyday in keeping with his idea that photography should remain true to its origins. Lyrics of Love is a break with his more recognisable work, and presents often-romantic glimpses of a country that is part-real, part a product of his rich, visual imagination. A long overdue acknowledgment of a photographic pioneer.


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August 26 2011

Play fullscreen
Egyptian Revolution Affects Israeli-Gaza Policy
Phyllis Bennis: Israel holds back from all out attack on Gaza concerned about reaction of Egyptian public opinion


June 17 2011

The shot that nearly killed me

Attacked by a Haitian mob, kidnapped by Gaddafi's troops, shot in Afghanistan… Who'd be a war photographer?

In pictures: the life of a war photographer (contains some graphic images)

Adam Ferguson, Afghanistan, 2009

I was one of the first on the scene. The Afghan security forces normally shut down a suicide bombing like this pretty quickly. I was able to get to the epicentre of the explosion. It was carnage, there were bodies, flames were coming out of the buildings. I remember feeling very scared because there was still popping and hissing and small explosions, and the building was collapsing. It was still very fresh and there was a risk of another bomb. It was one of those situations where you have to put fear aside and focus on the job at hand: to watch the situation and document it.

This woman was escorted out of the building and round this devastated street corner. It epitomised the whole mood – this older woman caught in the middle of this ridiculous, tragic event. I wish I could have found out how her life unravelled, but as soon as the scene was locked down, I ran back to the office to file.

As a photographer, you feel helpless. Around you are medics, security personnel, people doing good work. It can be agonisingly painful to think that all you're doing is taking pictures.

When I won a World Press award for this photograph, I felt sad. People were congratulating me and there was a celebration over this intense tragedy that I had captured. I reconciled it by deciding that more people see a story when a photographer's work is decorated.

Alvaro Ybarra Zavala, Congo, November 2008

The situation was very tense – people were drunk and aggressive. I was with two other photographers most of the time, but at this moment I went back to the road alone. I saw three soldiers smoking, playing with their guns, and felt safe – I don't know why. Then I saw a man with a knife in his mouth, coming out of the bush – he was holding up a hand like a trophy. The soldiers started laughing and firing in the air. I didn't think about it and began shooting. He walked directly at me. People surrounded us, celebrating. I thought, "Don't do anything crazy, just act like you're part of this crazy party."

When I got to the hotel, I showed the other photographers. They said, "Do you realise you could have been killed?" Only then did it hit me how dangerous it had been. Years after I took this picture, every time I see it I feel scared again.

I really hate this shot. It's the worst face of humankind. I always ask myself, "Why do I do this job?' And the answer is: I want to show the best and worst face of humankind. Every time you go to a conflict, you see the worst. We need to see what we do to be able to show future generations the mistakes we make. The guy with the knife in his mouth is a human being like the rest of us. What's important is that we show what human beings are capable of. The day I don't do that with my photography is the day I'll give up and open a restaurant.

Lynsey Addario, Libya, March 2011

I had been in Libya for just over two weeks, shooting the insurgency. Pictures like this, of inexperienced rebels being fired on by machine guns and mortars. On 15 March, myself and three other journalists were captured by Gaddafi's troops. They made us lie in the dirt, put guns to us. We were pleading for our lives. They started groping me very aggressively, touching my breasts and butt. Then we were tied up, blindfolded and moved from place to place for six days.

The first three days were very violent – I was punched in the face several times, groped nonstop. At that point, it was hard to justify why I put myself in that situation. When our captors left us alone, we spoke about what we'd do if we got out. I said I'd probably have to get pregnant because I've put my husband through a lot – I was kidnapped in Fallujah in 2004, and I was in a car that flipped just months before our wedding. Some of us contemplated whether we wanted to continue covering conflicts; whether it was worth the hardships we put our families through.

When we got out, I felt surprisingly OK. We'd survived – when you survive, this job is always worth the risk. Then a few weeks later Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed in Misrata, which sent me into a tailspin. This job takes a lot of skill, but a lot of it is luck. When friends die, you wonder if it's worth the price.

João Silva, Afghanistan, October 2010

I'd been in Afghanistan for a month when I stepped on the landmine. I was the third man in line, and as I put my foot down, I heard a metallic click and I was thrown in the air. I knew exactly what had happened. As the soldiers dragged me away from the kill zone, I took these pictures. When people around me have been hurt or killed, I've recorded it. I had to keep working. The soldiers were yelling for the medics. I knew my legs had gone, so I called my wife on the satellite phone and told her not to worry. The pain came later, back in intensive care, when infections set in and they nearly lost me a couple of times.

I've spent enough time out there for my number to come up. I was one of the few who kept going back to Iraq. People think you do this to chase adrenaline. The reality is hard work and a lot of time alone. Firefights can be exciting, I'm not going to lie, but photographing the aftermath of a bomb, when there's a dead child and the mother wailing over the corpse, isn't fun. I'm intruding on the most intimate moments, but I force myself to do it because the world has to see those images. Politicians need to know what it looks like when you send young boys to war. If it's humanly possible, if the prosthetics allow me, I'll go back to conflict zones. I wish I was in Libya at the moment, without a shadow of a doubt.

Tom Stoddart, Sarajevo, 1992

I'm not really interested in military bang-bang pictures; I'm interested in documenting people living through war. Sniper Alley, where this was taken, paralysed Sarajevo. To get from one side to the other, the residents had to pass through this intersection and Serbian snipers would take shots at them. Bullets pinged past the entire time. Some people would sprint as fast as they could; others would brazenly walk, as if they were giving two fingers. Many were killed. Anyone who says they aren't frightened during war is either lying or a fool. It's about finding a way of dealing with the fear – you have to be very calm. You're not there to get your rocks off; you're there because you feel your pictures can make a difference. Sarajevo was the most dangerous place I have worked on a long-term basis. But I could leave. The occupants of Sarajevo couldn't. That was one of the strange things about covering it – it was so close to London. You could be back at Heathrow in a couple of hours. People would pass carrying skis, or off to the Caribbean, and you'd feel like screaming, "Why don't you understand?" You become a terrible dinner guest.

Greg Marinovich, Soweto, 1990

I was deep in Soweto when I saw a man being attacked by ANC combatants. The month before, I'd seen a guy beaten to death – my first experience of real violence – and hadn't shaken the feeling of guilt that I had done nothing to stop it. "No pictures," someone yelled. I told them I'd stop shooting if they stopped killing him. They didn't. As the man was set on fire, he began to run. I was framing my next shot when a bare-chested man came into view and swung a machete into his blazing skull. I tried not to smell the burning flesh and shot a few more pictures, but I was losing it and aware that the crowd could turn on me at any time. The victim was moaning in a low, dreadful voice as I left. I got in my car and, once I turned the corner, began to scream. You're not just a journalist or a human being, you're a mixture of both, and to try to separate the two is complicated. I've often felt guilty about my pictures. I worked in South Africa for years and was shot three times. The fourth and final injury, in Afghanistan in 1999, wasn't the worst, but I decided enough was enough. I was looking to settle. Nineteen months later, I met my wife.

Gary Knight, Iraq, April 2003

This was at the start of the invasion. We were at the Diyala Bridge, which had to be taken by the marines so they could get into Baghdad. They were the lead battalion, the ones who went on to pull down the statue of Saddam. The opposition were shelling us. It was terrifying – both the actual shelling, and the anticipation of it. It comes in waves so you can see it moving in your direction. One had exploded in the tank. If it had landed on top or a couple of feet over, I would have died. Your instinct is to bury yourself, but you can't. You're there to do a job. The point is to get the news out. If you keep moving, you can manage the fear. And my stress is nothing compared with civilians and soldiers. I remind myself of that all the time. I don't have to be there – they don't have the choice.

My wife and children were very much on my mind because the danger was so extreme. You cannot separate the rest of your life and I've tried not to control how much I think about them. Sometimes they have been constantly in my head, sometimes I have not thought about them at all.

Shaul Schwarz, Haiti, February 2004

Port au Prince was falling. It was riotous, with widespread looting. A group of us had gone to the port. The thugs with guns didn't want us there. We snapped from the waist, trying not to make it obvious. We decided to go over the wall. One thug offered me "protection". As we jumped the wall, I saw this boy, and was like, "This is what it's come to." It was my first digital assignment and I was amazed to be able to look at my shots. I did for a second; when I looked up, everyone had run off. It was just me and the thug. It was like a dog that smells fear. He began pushing and threatening me. Then I was surrounded. One of them hit me. I had a few dollar bills in my trousers, and put my hand there. They began tearing at me, fighting over the bills. I waited 30 seconds, started to walk away, then ran and scaled the fence. On the other side, I tried to breathe.

I began shooting one guy a metre away. He screamed and pulled a shotgun. I saw the barrel, then he shot the man next to me – I had blood on me, brains. I was crying, shaking. I ran to the car horrified; I was a mess. I love Haiti, but every time I pass the port, I carry some of that fear.

Eric Bouvet, Chechnya, May 1995

It was unbearable. Two crazy weeks and the most unbelievable story I ever did. I was with a Russian special commando. They were torturing, killing and raping. I saw them do it, and I couldn't stop them. Someone of a normal constitution can't accept that. I was working on the edge.

This is the morning after a night that left four men dead and 10 wounded. It was heavy fighting, and I was very afraid. I discovered a dead Chechen four metres from me when I got up in the night. You see movies, you read books, you can imagine anything. But when you are in front of something, it's not like the movies. We started out as 60 and came back 30 – one in two people injured or killed. I was lucky.

As soon as it was light, I took pictures. This is the first thing I saw. The guy with the bandage on his head has lost his friends. He has fought all night long. I don't feel pity, but at the same time they took me with them and did everything to protect me. Without them, I couldn't have done the story. I was the only witness. It's very complicated.

Mads Nissen, Libya, February 2011

I got into Ajdabiya shortly after its fall. The rebels had just moved in and the locals were going crazy, shooting in the air. Bodies of pro-Gaddafi soldiers were lying around, beginning to stink as the sun got higher. The fire from the tank was incredibly strong and I was worried it might explode at any moment. Suddenly this guy jumped on to it. I'm not that interested in pictures of tanks burning – I'm interested in people. I had wanted to capture the sense of release that everyone had and suddenly this became the shot. I got as close as possible, within metres, and started shooting, counting to five in my head. Then I got out. I had seen corpses, torn apart, in the morgue and didn't want to end up like that. I took a chance – I had to; that was why I was there, to tell the story – but I made sure I wasn't too greedy.

Adam Dean, Pakistan, December 2007

I was very much a novice when I took this. I'd just finished a master's in photojournalism and thought I'd go to Pakistan to cover the elections. An attempt had been made on Bhutto's life two months earlier, so there was already a certain degree of risk.

I was about 15 metres away, photographing Bhutto, when there was a burst of gunfire followed by an explosion. I had a split-second decision to risk a secondary blast (as had happened in October) or start running with the crowd. I was panicking, trying to fight the urge to leave. I'd never seen a dead body before. It was almost like a test, to see if I had what I needed for this job.

As I approached the aftermath of the bomb, I struggled to compose myself. I was terrified and sickened, but kept telling myself just to concentrate and get it done so I could leave. I knew I had to frame the pictures so they weren't too graphic. The epicentre of the explosion was a pile of maybe a dozen limbless, charred, mangled bodies in pools of blood. This was one of the times I was most in danger, but there have been times in Afghanistan where I have felt more scared. This was over in seconds, but a firefight can go on for hours. The real worry is IUDs, though – when you go on patrol, every step could be your last. I'm 33 and I'm not sure I'd want to put myself in such risky situations when I'm older and perhaps have other people to consider.

John D McHugh, Afghanistan, May 2007

This is the last picture I took before I got shot. I'd been embedded with US troops in Nuristan for five weeks when we went to help a unit that had been ambushed nearby. There were bodies on the road, dead and dying. Taliban started shooting down on us from the mountains. I jumped behind a rock. I could hear bullets hitting it, and thought, "Oh fuck, oh fuck."

We ran behind a Humvee, but now we were being fired on from both sides. By that point I'd accepted that I was going to get shot. There were so many bullets in the air, it sounded like a swarm of bees. They had us pinned down and a sniper was picking people off one by one.

The bullet went through my ribs and out of my lower back. It felt as if I'd been punched. I fell to my knees, but managed to get behind another rock. The entry wound was the size of a penny; the exit bigger than the palm of my hand. The pain was overwhelming. I was convinced I was going to die and felt angry with myself. Then I started worrying that I might live but end up paralysed. Maybe I was better off dead? My mind refocused and I thought, "No, fuck that!"

It was 25 minutes before anybody could get to me. My cameras were on the ground, and as they grabbed me I had to lean down and pick them up. When we got to the local base, a medic said, "Hell, I can see right through you." As soon as I knew that I'd recover, I told my girlfriend I was going to go back out. The work I do is important and also, if I hadn't, it would mean I'd never really understood the risks in the first place.

I love my job but getting shot made me think about life beyond work. I proposed to my girlfriend two months later, and we had a baby last year.

Marco di Lauro, Iraq, November 2004

This photograph was the most dangerous moment in my career. I was with two marines trying to get into this house. The first marine knocked down the door and the guy that you see in the image threw a grenade at him – the dust is from the explosion. Being behind the wall at the side of the front door saved me.The second marine entered the room and shot the Iraqi dead. I was the third person in the room and I took this picture.

I started when I was 28. I'm 40 now, and a lot has changed in the risks I'm prepared to take. When you're younger, you're immortal. Three days into my first assignment, I was photographing between two lines of people shooting at each other in Kosovo. I'm more scared now, more aware of the risks. I've lost a lot of friends and colleagues – two of them very recently. I'll keep doing the job I do but I'll be more careful.

John Stanmeyer, East Timor, August 1999

There were numerous firefights going on between the pro-Timorese Aitarak and the Indonesian militia, so I just ran. A bullet went right by my ear, moving my hair. It was fate that my head was tilted to the right, otherwise I wouldn't be here today.

Within minutes of nearly being killed, I came across pro-East Timorese independence supporter Joaquim Bernardino Guterres. The military turned their guns on him, and as he started to run they grabbed him and kicked him. Moments later he was lying in a 20ft stream of blood. The military were very unhappy with the pictures afterwards.

I don't think about the risk to myself, as I probably should. While I was out in Afghanistan, my wife had a miscarriage and she equated it to my being away. That was pretty dreadful, but she's a writer and understands why I do this. We've been to Sudan together, we've been ambushed, we've been in lots of nutty situations.

Ashley Gilbertson, Iraq, 2004

It was one of the most intense experiences I've ever had. I was with a lead unit of marines, and we received a triple ambush from the insurgents. I'd just run across a street with 40 marines to take shelter in an Islamic cultural centre, with bullets whizzing past my face. I thought, if I'm going to die right now, I might as well be working. I was in so much shock. It was a wake-up call to how violent it was going to be.

The guy in the photo is shouting, "Don't take my fucking picture!" Sometimes, you look at images of war, and they're like a Hollywood producer's vision of what war is supposed to look like. There are very few pictures where you get a feel for how fucking awful it is, how desperate and urgent. I like that it's not a clean picture, that it's not well composed and you can't see everything that's happening. That's part of it. It's so messy. It's the closest I've come to capturing the chaos of combat.

Ron Haviv, Bosnia, 1992

These are the Serbian warlord Arkan's men. They've just executed these Muslim civilians – a butcher, his wife and sister-in-law; the start of what became known as ethnic cleansing.

I had taken a photograph of Arkan with a baby tiger, which he'd liked, and he'd agreed for me to travel with his troops to photograph his "mission". The soliders were yelling at me not to shoot, but I'd promised myself I'd come out of this with an image to prove what was happening.

I was shaking when I took this shot. None of them was looking at me so I lifted my camera, just trying to get them in frame. When I put it down, they looked over. They didn't realise I'd taken photos.

Later, Arkan caught me photographing another execution and said he'd process my film and keep the ones he didn't like. I'd hidden the film from earlier in the day in my pocket and figured that if I fought hard enough for the film in my camera, he wouldn't search me.

When the pictures were published not long after, Arkan said in an interview, "I look forward to the day I can drink his blood." He put me on a death list, and I spent the next eight years trying to avoid him. Eventually, these images were used to indict him at The Hague.

Julie Jacobson, Afghanistan, August 2009

We were hiding from Taliban gunfire, when there was this explosion. Afterwards, I saw [Lance Corporal Joshua M] Bernard – one of his legs was blown off and the other was barely there. He'd suffered a direct hit from an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade]. The media ground rule was that you couldn't photograph a military casualty in a way that they could be identified, but I could see Bernard's hand reach out to his weapon, his face turned to me. So I shot nine frames over two and a half minutes.

Making that decision was a public act. I got a lot of flak. Bernard later died, and people said that I didn't give him dignity, that I should have helped him. But I couldn't help him. For me to turn my back, that's disrespectful.

Ami Vitale, Gaza, October 2000

I was photographing a funeral, and having spent most of the day with the women, I went to see the body being taken in. A man in the procession started screaming, "CIA agent" and pointing at me. I was surrounded by hundreds of angry men, screaming in my face, grabbing me. I was terrified, and thought, "This is it. I am going to die." Suddenly I understood a mob. There's no thinking, just passion.

A woman I'd spent the day with managed to pull me away. When I got home, I sat and cried and cried – she had saved my life. I stayed on in Palestine, but was much more cautious after that; have been ever since. That moment changed my perspective. No picture is worth it.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


April 30 2011

5 Years After U.S.-Backed Clashes, Palestinian Factions Fatah, Hamas Reach Unity Deal

Hamasfatah

The rival Palestinian political organizations, Fatah and Hamas, have reached an agreement to end a nearly five-year internal schism, form an interim government, and hold a general election within a year. The two sides have been locked in a bitter conflict since Fatah and the Bush administration tried to overthrow Gaza’s Hamas-led government in 2006 after Hamas won Palestinian national elections. Israel and the United States say they’ll reject any peace talks with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas. We speak with Saree Makdisi, professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA and the author of several books, including Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation. [includes rush transcript]

Reposted fromsigalondemnow sigalondemnow

April 29 2011

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Fatah and Hamas Make a Deal
Noura Erakat: Deal is a sign of weakness for both organizations, but Palestinians welcome it.
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April 28 2011

02mydafsoup-01

While Hamas turns Gaza into an Islamist state, the Western media praise it for keeping 'law and order' | Telegraph Blogs - Michael Weiss - 2011-04-15



[...]

When Vittorio Arrigoni was abducted and killed last week in Gaza, the press wasted little time establishing its line that Hamas has done a great job of maintaining law and order.

In the words of the Financial Times’s Tobias Buck, Gaza is now “a safe destination for foreign journalists, aid workers and diplomats.” Conal Urquhart of the Guardian noted that, since winning its first parliamentary election in 2006, Hamas has gone “mainstream.”  The real nasties in the Strip are now said to be the “puritanical” Salafi-Jihadis, Koranic literalists with possible ties to al-Qaeda who think Hamas is run by softies no better than bearded Zionists.

Unfortunately, there are several problems with this analysis.

The first is that most Salafi-Jihadis used to belong to Hamas themselves, particularly the hardline military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades. Hamas admits this freely: an International Crisis Group report on Radical Islam in Gaza suggests that 60 per cent of imprisoned Salafi-Jihadis are former Hamas members. Is this why one of the four suspects in the Arrigoni murder, Mohammed al-Salfiti, is an active Hamas policeman?

Hamas has not only created the conditions in Gaza that breed schismatic ultras but also has long record of encouraging Salafi-Jihadis. ...

[...]



...., Hamas has finally discovered the oldest trick in the radical handbook: undercut the rising stars by stealing their agenda. Hamas has lately imposed a host of draconian and unpopular religious measures in Gaza, such as an insistence that men and women who hold hands in public proffer a marriage certificate. The ministry of religious endowments is offering “advice” on how to behave in a more Islamic fashion. Men should neither cut women’s hair nor swim shirtless. Mannequins in lingerie lead to tumescent Palestinians, so they ought to be removed from storefront windows. More sinister moves include the imprisonment of homosexuals and the arrest of one woman for committing “adultery” with her own husband because her family disapproved of the marriage.

Internal terrorism has also increased in Gaza in recent months. Several UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency - oA:nth] summer camps have been stormed and burnt because they teach children to do things other than blow themselves up in Jerusalem. The Crazy Water Park was attacked by arsonists last September, presumably because too many men were swimming shirtless there. That involved 20 masked men in trucks – not an inconspicuous sight in Gaza – and so many suspect the tacit approval of higher-ups.

These crimes, unlike the murder of Arrigoni, show no signs of ever being seriously investigated or solved. Either Hamas is powerless to control its own personnel or it’s reluctant to do so: take your pick. As one Palestinian UN official put it: “Hamas is using the Salafi groups to implement the social agenda that it fears implementing itself.”

But none of this stops the construction of a media narrative whereby the dirty work is done by unaffiliated fanatics whilst a “mainstream” Hamas gets credit for cracking down on the very extremism it’s been incubating.

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Consequences of Gaza Activist's Killing
Following fatal kidnapping of Italian activist Arrigoni in Gaza, NGOs up security measures, Hamas internal strife continues
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March 26 2011

January 23 2011

Witness for Gaza's victims of conflict - audio slideshow

Photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer talks about his compelling photographs documenting the damage left after Israel's assault on Gaza in 2009.



The Book of Destruction

Mosaic Rooms, London

When The Book of Destruction, Kai Wiedenhöfer's exhibition of photographs documenting the consequences of Israel's war against Gaza, opened at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris late last year, two men wearing ski masks and motorcycle helmets tried to storm the building to damage the exhibits. An umbrella group of Jewish organisations in France accused him of "virulently anti-Israel views". Others on the internet charged him with "fanning the flames of antisemitism".

The award-winning Wiedenhöfer, whose exhibition moves to London this week, is not unaccustomed to such charges and finds them ridiculous. They first emerged in 2005 during discussions with Berlin's municipal authorities for a project – which never saw the light of day – involving affixing giant prints of Israel's West Bank separation wall on to what remains of the Berlin Wall. During talks, a local politician informed him that the panoramic images in his book, Wall, which were to be used for the project, were "antisemitic photography".

"I asked him to define antisemitic photography," says Wiedenhöfer. "He replied that I had pictures in the book that showed Israeli soldiers being violent against Palestinians."

Sitting in his bare Berlin apartment, Wiedenhöfer is suddenly animated and goes to fetch a copy from his bookshelf. "I know every picture in this book. There is not a single image of an Israeli laying a thumb on a Palestinian. So I said, 'Show me!'" Wiedenhöfer flicks through the pages. "This is the only image of violence in the whole book – it's an Israeli soldier removing Israeli peace protesters."

Wiedenhöfer's pictures are controversial because his three books – Perfect Peace, detailing Palestinian life between the two intifadas, Wall and now The Book of Destruction – focus almost exclusively on the Palestinian experience. Self-employed and funded often by grants, he is free from the requirement of television and print media to tell both sides of the story with equal weight, instead photographing what interests him, which has rankled deeply with some of Israel's supporters.

Here, I believe, a disclosure is in order. I have known Wiedenhöfer, who was born in 1966 in a village near Stuttgart, for almost a decade. We first met and travelled together when covering Israel's 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, dodging tanks in Bethlehem. Wiedenhöfer borrowed the title for his current exhibition from an article written by myself and my Observer colleague, photographer Antonio Olmos, about a list we came across of all of Gaza's damaged buildings, a document we called "the book of destruction".

Wiedenhöfer's dedication, even in a profession that requires such discipline, is extraordinary. I recall running into him in Jerusalem almost five years ago when he was working on Wall. He was staying in a filthy, cell-like single-room dwelling owned by a monk, scattered with crucifixes and empty whisky bottles (the monk's, not the teetotal Wiedenhöfer's) because it meant he could come and go as he pleased and he wanted to capture the morning light. He took me on one of his early-morning outings, wandering beneath watchtowers full of armed soldiers to study how the light fell on concrete at different times, scrambling up ridges to find new viewpoints of the concrete barrier snaking among the hills and observe the pattern of daily life flowing around it.

If Wall was about separation, Wiedenhöfer's new book and exhibition, funded by the Fondation Carmignac Gestion, is unquestionably about violence, documenting in almost unbearable detail the damage left after Israel's assault on Gaza in 2009. Unpeopled images of ruined buildings, photographed with an architectural precision, are contrasted with portraits of equally ruined people with truncated limbs and scarred bodies. His human subjects look into the camera, seated in their own homes: women and children; the family of fighters and civilians – all displaying bewildering variations of traumatic amputation and burns.

The photographs of the ruined buildings supply their own taxonomy of the consequences of different explosive forces: houses brought down by mines rendered into bristling igloos of concrete; buildings pierced and burned by shells; walls perforated by gunfire. The result is a body of work that is anti-sensational but shocking in the directness with which it engages with violence.

"I wanted to make a record," Wiedenhöfer says. "That's all. I do not accuse Israel. If there is an accusation, it is in the record itself." Therein lies the problem. He has come up against the increasingly prevalent desire of many within Israel and without to rule inadmissible any "record" that depicts what Israel or its defence forces do in a negative light, deploying an intellectual sleight of hand to suggest that all such criticism is designed to "delegitimise" the existence of Israel. That it is "antisemitism" of a new and sneaky kind.

The irony is that Wiedenhöfer had not intended to return to the subject of Israel and Palestine again after his books Perfect Peace and Wall. Indeed, his main interest these days is examining the nature of boundaries, particularly in areas of conflict or that have been affected by conflicts, something he is pursuing with the same single-mindedness he dedicated to documenting Palestinian life for almost two decades.

Wiedenhöfer insists that he could have done a similar study to The Book of Destruction in Afghanistan or in Iraq and that the real meaning of the book is the horrible "creativity" people use to hurt others. What really concerns him is the unwillingness of many photographers, and the media, to document the human consequences.

In part, he blames the constrained economics of the media today, which, he believes, has made many photographers take fewer risks, instead focusing on images they know will sell. "We see the same pictures all the time. A Palestinian child throwing a stone. A soldier surrounded by dust in Afghanistan. An IED exploding. But what does it show us of the true meaning of war?"

Peter Beaumont is the Observer's foreign affairs editor. Kai Wiedenhöfer's The Book of Destruction: Gaza – One Year After the 2009 War is at the Mosaic Rooms, London SW5, from Friday to 12 Feb; mosaicrooms.org. Funds raised through the exhibition will be used to support the individuals featured in his photographs. The book is published by Steidl/Fondation Carmignac Gestion on 6 June, £30


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