For February Dispatches presents four pieces concerning the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza. The dispatches present different views by photographers Jim Hollander, Ilan Mizrahi, Ahmad Khateib and Stefania Mizara.
Jim Hollander has lived in and covered Israel for many years. He was deeply frustrated when Israel denied the press access to Gaza. Coining the accurate descriptor, "war paparazzi," he describes photographers stranded in Israel scrambling to get to potentially relevant news scenes and hiding their cars, lying in wait to capture any image they could make of Israeli troops leaving or returning to the country.
Israeli photographer Ilan Mizrahi sees the situation much differently and defends his country's actions. He rightly points out that Israel has been shelled from Gaza almost continually for eight years and that Israel is determined to end the impossible situation. Mizrahi shows a bit of the real cost of constant rockets on the populace in a trauma center and on the streets. His blurry image of a woman in the trauma center speaks volumes about the emotional shock of incoming rockets. He refers to the Palestinian militants as "enemies" – not a dispassionate journalistic statement. He also writes about the irony of Israeli families forced out of Gaza by the government only to be shelled from that country. Whatever one's opinion of those residents it is surely bizarre to think that they have only large drain pipes for protection.
Across the border in Gaza, photographer and resident Ahmad Khateib lives a very different life. He does his job amidst the chaos of destruction and worries that his wife and children could be killed by an Israeli air strike while he is out covering the story. Robert Capa is famous for saying that if your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough—both Mizrahi and Khateib are about as close as one could ever be.
Also from Gaza, Stefania Mizara rides into her first war zone, entering from the Egyptian side with a group of international doctors. She wonders how people can work outside amidst the danger – she finds that the few who do are journalists and medical personnel. We should note that in one of her images of an air strike on a U.N. building, the caption states that the bomb contained phosphorus, something the Israeli government has denied.
The four dispatches present just a few points of view on this long struggle between Palestinians and Israelis that goes back to before 1948 when the State of Israel was founded.