The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been going on for almost 50 years, and many have died as a result of the violence. However, one group of people have been particularly affected by the violence, and that is the children. For them, it has often been more than just a fight for land, but a fight for their future and their safety.
Al-Jazeera reports on the toll of the war in Gaza on civilians, and provides a chilling glimpse of the trauma of war. The report, which you can see below, goes into detail on the experiences of several children in Gaza, who’ve witnessed the war first hand.
The death of over 1,800 people in Gaza is the issue that President Obama will have to face in his State of the Union Address next Tuesday. The Israeli offensive, which had been ongoing for three weeks before the speech, was given the go-ahead by the United Nations Security Council on August 1.
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In May, Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization that controls Gaza, clashed in the coastal region. According to the United Nations, the 11-day battle that followed killed 260 people in Gaza and 13 civilians in Israel, and turned large parts of Gaza City to smoldering ruins. Israel’s military said it was attacking Hamas’ military facilities in Gaza.
Because Israel blocked Gaza’s borders to international media, claiming security concerns, coverage of the conflict was restricted. However, footage of the assaults were recorded by bystanders. Yousur Al-Hlou, a video journalist for The New York Times, and Neil Collier, a former Times staff member who now works as a freelancer, traveled to Gaza after the cease-fire was declared, a process that took several days and involved going through numerous security screenings, quarantining in Jerusalem, and obtaining permission from Hamas.
They talked with survivors in bombed-out buildings before producing a 14-minute film that was released last month and recounts the tale of the conflict and its aftermath through the perspective of those people.
The New York Times covered the effect on both sides of the border, including a film on the impacted Israeli border towns and a graphic study of the conflict’s bloodiest sequence of bombings on Gaza. Ms. Al-Hlou and Mr. Collier’s film provided a fresh perspective on the devastation in Gaza from people who had seen it firsthand.
Mr. Collier described the initiative as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to study the impact that constant fighting and reconstruction had on the people who live there.
He said, “One of the first things we observed was the degree to which individuals were still in shock and devastated.” “There were lasting repercussions of the conflict that weren’t always visible in video coming out of Gaza.”
Their film depicts the confusion and horror of bombings, with a teenage kid crying on the ground after his father and cousin were murdered, and sisters cowering beneath a blanket as their home was bombed. One of the sisters claimed she took her phone’s passcode off because she wanted people to be able to see the video she shot if she died.
Hanaan Sarhan, a senior producer on the project, said the Times team wanted to include quieter moments from the war’s aftermath, such as a young girl wanting to return to school so she could help with the rebuilding effort; a musician wondering where he would get the money to replace his equipment; and parents celebrating the birth of their newborn son, hoping he would survive.
Soliman Hijjy, a Gaza-based video journalist, assisted in the identification of prospective interview subjects and witnesses who had video footage of the violence on their phones. He went to considerable efforts with Ms. Al-Hlou and Mr. Collier to ensure that every cellphone footage they gathered came straight from the source and had not been altered.
The crew followed down every source and paid them a personal visit to see the video on their phones and establish when and where it was shot. Mr. Collier also wore a GPS watch to each interview, capturing satellite coordinates so that he and Ms. Al-Hlou could compare them to the assault sites.
Hourly power outages, unstable internet, and a lack of drinkable water plagued Ms. Al-Hlou and Mr. Collier throughout their month in Gaza. These are the daily reality for Gaza’s two million inhabitants, whose travels in and out are limited by Israel and Egypt, which share a border with Gaza.
Ms. Al-Hlou said, “The reality of living and working in Gaza are tough.”
Early in June, as the crew was wrapping up their reporting and about to leave Gaza, the Israeli military launched another wave of bombings, raising fears of a new long-term war. It didn’t happen, but the worry lingered.
Israel and Hamas have yet to reach a formal cease-fire agreement.
“Another conflict may come at any time,” Ms. Sarhan warned.
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