Al-Ahram Weekly Online   5 - 11 February 2009
Issue No. 933
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Khaled El-Fiqi

A week in Gaza

Pictures speak louder than words of the destruction Israel visited on Gaza. Khaled El-Fiqi captures the catastrophe

Going to Gaza is a dream for journalists wishing to see the full impact of the horror Israel unleashed on the Strip. Israel totally wrecked Gaza, forcing the Arabs to pay once again for the havoc left behind by its war machine.

Click to view caption
Surviving an Israeli blast, this house stands strong. But who would assess the irreparable damage that has been inflicted on Gazans: psychological, environmental and otherwise?

Being under occupation, Gaza is harder to visit than Israel. Journalists are allowed to cross from the Egyptian border at their own risk, into a land still dreaming of independence.

Being the first Egyptian photographer to cross into Gaza, I was horrified by the scale of destruction, by scenes of ruin unseen since 1967. Gaza's infrastructure -- roads, electricity and water -- is gone. Houses that still stand bear the signs of shelling. Even mosques were not spared. This was the first time for me to see mosques so damaged. Even in Bosnia, the Serbs shied away from demolishing mosques.

During their respective periods of occupation, the French or British refrained from tearing down mosques in Egypt. What I saw were scenes reminiscent of the acts of the Nazis and the fascists. And it all happened because Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defence Minister Ehud Barak decided that waging such a brutal attack would boost their chances in domestic elections.

Gaza is blockaded from the air by F-16s, from the sea by gunboats that fire at anyone approaching the beach, and from the land by tanks. Consequently, the people of Gaza have one way only of meeting their minimum needs: to dig tunnels across the borders.

The tragedy would take thousands of pages to describe, but I hope that my photographs give you an idea of what happened.

I know power is tempting, and the money coming soon as donations even more so, but there is a time when one has to think about the suffering of one's people. And that time is now.

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