Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Heaven or Hell
To be in the right place at the right moment – this is every photojournalist’s dream. To be on the scene to record the “decisive moment” with your camera.
Most photojournalists around the world consider Israel and the Palestinian Territories as ”heaven” for great stories providing great pictures. Well they are wrong.
For a long time this place has produced some of the most memorable news photos ever but at a high cost, and not just to the millions of Israelis and Palestinians who have suffered in their daily lives through the conflict of the past two decades or so. A number of photographers and camera operators lost their lives or been badly injured while trying to convey the story and a great number of others have psychological scars from being exposed to scenes of death and destruction over long periods of time.
Yes, Israel and the Palestinian territories are full of great images, but how easy is to find them and record them?
Well – the ’finding’ part is not too hard. Beepers are constantly beeping, SMS messages are constantly being sent keeping the large international press corps up to date on even the most obscure goings-on. The Israeli Government Press Office, the Palestinian Authority, NGOs, the Israeli Defence Forces, settler groups, religious groups; all have very sophisticated media operations that fill your e-mail inbox, mobile phone and beeper with a constant stream of information.
The recording part is another story. It can seem as if everything is against you and everybody is trying to make your life difficult. Photographers here are among the most competitive in the world … and they are many. Security is a nightmare. Much of the time the authorities from both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides make things very difficult, except of course when they want you to shoot the picture/story that they want to get across. And do not forget, you are always subject to flying rocks, bullets, rockets, hate, blood and tears … definitely not easy!
On top of that – international agencies and newspapers take this story very seriously so they tend to send their best photographers here … and thats in addition to the incredible local talent already here. I’m lucky that two of the most talented, dedicated and sensitive photographers in the region are on my team; Ronen Zvulun, who is based in Jerusalem, and Mohammed Salem, based in Gaza, are fine examples of how – after finding the story – recording it becomes an art in itself. Click on their names above to enjoy samples of their work.
(Photo credits: (from top to bottom: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem, REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun, REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun, REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)