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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Telling the stories of Gaza's 'obliterated families' caused by israel's 2014 genocidal attack

A new project uses heartbreaking photos, text and video to tell the stories of the Palestinian families who lost more than three members in the 2014 Gaza war, the stories of their lives, their deaths and the survival of those left behind.
Elizabeth Tanboura stands with three of her daughters: Sundos, Malak, and Marwa (right), in front of their destroyed home in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip. Elizabth lost her husband and 2 of her children during an Israeli attack on August 25, 2014. Two other boys survived as they were not in the house at the time of the attack. Photo taken March 19, 2015. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
Elizabeth Tanboura stands with three of her daughters: Sundos, Malak, and Marwa (right), in front of their destroyed home in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip. Elizabth lost her husband and 2 of her children during an Israeli attack on August 25, 2014. Two other boys survived as they were not in the house at the time of the attack. Photo taken March 19, 2015. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

There is no shortage of numbers and statistics that are cited in telling, reporting on and remembering periods of war and violence. Often times certain wars come to be represented by numbers. The number of killed, wounded displaced. The number of homes damaged or destroyed. The number of days that the bombs fell, the number of days since they stopped.
It goes without saying that people are not numbers. One innovative and touching writing project in the Gaza Strip, We Are Not Numbers, aims to take those numbers, the way that so much of the world views far-off conflict, and recapture the human narratives they represent.
But photojournalists Anne Paq and Ala Qandil were haunted by one specific number about the 2014 Gaza war. One hundred and forty-two. The 142 families that lost three or more members. Obliterated families.
Photos of 14 killed members of the Abu Amer family are displayed in Bani Suheila, east of Khan Younis, November 15, 2014. A total of 16 members of the Abu Amer family were killed on July 29, 2014 in an airstrike that targeted the al-Dali building in Khan Younis. In total, 34 people from five families were killed in the attack. It was the deadliest attack on a residential building in the 2014 Israeli military offensive. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
Photos of 14 killed members of the Abu Amer family are displayed in Bani Suheila, east of Khan Younis, November 15, 2014. A total of 16 members of the Abu Amer family were killed on July 29, 2014 in an airstrike that targeted the al-Dali building in Khan Younis. In total, 34 people from five families were killed in the attack. It was the deadliest attack on a residential building in the 2014 Israeli military offensive. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Paq, who as a member of the Activestills photography collective helped cover the 2014 war for +972 Magazine, met some of the families and their survivors before and during the war. In return visits over the past two years, she has met with 50 such families. Together with Qandil and other Palestinian journalists, the pair launched a multimedia web project on Friday, using photos, in-depth text, animations, infographics, short videos, and design elements to tell their stories.
(View the project at obliteratedfamilies.com)
The Kilani family of Beit Lahiya lost 11 members on July 21, 2014. Ibrahim al-Kilani, an architect who lived in Germany for 20 years before moving back to Gaza, was killed along with his wife and five children in the bombing of the Salam residential tower in Gaza City. They had sought shelter there after being told by the Israeli military to leave their own home.
Ibrahim and all five children were German nationals. He is survived by two children from an earlier marriage who still live in Berlin.
Photo of the German passports of Ibrahim al Kilani and four of his children, seen in their home in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, September 18, 2014. Ibrahim Taghrid was killed together with his wife Taghrid and their five children in an Israeli attack on July 21, 2014, targetting the building they flew to in Gaza city. Ibrahim and her children hold German passports as Ibrahim was living in Germany for 20 years and was working there as an architect. They flew their home in Beit Layhia after they saw leftlets launched by the Israely army, urging the residents to go to Gaza city. (Anne Paq / Activestills.org)
Photo of the German passports of Ibrahim al Kilani and four of his children, seen in their home in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, September 18, 2014. Ibrahim was killed together with his wife Taghrid and their five children in an Israeli attack on July 21, 2014, targeting a building in Gaza City where they had sought safety. Ibrahim and his children hold German passports as Ibrahim wived in Germany for 20 years, where he worked there as an architect. They family had fled their home in Beit Layhia after the Israeli military dropped leaflets urging residents to go to Gaza City. (Anne Paq / Activestills.org)

The area of the online project dedicated to the Kilani family powerfully combines photographs, video and text to tell the story of Ibrahim and his family, from tales of childhood games hiding in orchards from Israeli warplanes in the 1960s, to joining his now-adult son, Ramsis, at Palestinian solidarity protests in present day Berlin.
Through the various types of media, the reader is drawn into the story, as emotionally packed image followed by heartbreaking video pushes through the screen in order to attach faces, possessions, and memories to families that might otherwise exist only as a harrowing statistic.
Five families’ stories are being published Friday along with the website itself. The remaining chapters are scheduled to be published over the coming 51 days, corresponding with date of the respective family’s obliteration.
The website is also slated to include factsheets, infographics, and a library section with a photo gallery, a downloadable exhibition, additional interviews, and other features.
The web project was preceded by a short film, “Gaza: A Gaping Wound,” which can be viewed on the site’s homepage.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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