Obliterated Families is a multimedia web documentary about families from the Gaza Strip whose lives were shattered in the Israeli offensive in 2014.
It has been independently produced by Anne Paq, a member of the Activestills photo collective, and reporter Ala Qandil. Over the course of two years, more than 50 families in the Gaza Strip were interviewed and photographed. The research was done in collaboration with the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, based in the Gaza Strip.
This web documentary tells the stories of ten of those families; it also provides the necessary context about the Gaza Strip – historical, social and political. It will be released in stages and it will grow over time: we are preparing a Library section, a downloadable exhibition kit, podcasts, updates and other features.
How it started
The project started during the 2014 Israeli military offensive on Gaza, when we realized that every day entire families were bombed – in their homes or while fleeing – and we could not keep count. A whole family disappeared, was wiped out, and so was their story. War was often too chaotic and hectic even to collect all the names of those killed. We worked as a team, with Anne photographing and Ala writing the stories behind the photos.
Anne went back in September 2014, soon after the ceasefire, and started meeting with the survivors and relatives. Ala joined her the following year. We started with a handful of families, but the project grew much bigger with the support of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, whose team helped us connect with other survivors.
The project started as an attempt to tell the stories of those who were killed, but it would not have been complete without talking about the fate of the survivors. Not only are they dealing with immense grief and survivor’s guilt, but are also faced with a life in the ruins of what used to be their homes, often the exact same places where their families perished. And they know that those responsible for the deadly attacks will most likely never be punished.
Why is it important?
Two years later, people in Gaza still fear another Israeli offensive when they lift their eyes to the sky. We hope this web doc will be a reminder that Gaza has not been rebuilt yet, and is still under occupation and under siege. According to a UN report, Gaza will become uninhabitable by 2020, but in fact, the glimpses of life there, caught in the stories we tell, suggest that this place has long ago become unfit for living.
The Gaza Strip has been sealed by Israel, with Egypt’s assistance and the international community’s silent complicity. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians living there cannot leave their tiny enclave; nor can they receive visitors from other parts of Palestine. Also, only a few international citizens have a chance to enter and see for themselves the open air prison it has been turned to, and also what kind, hospitable and life-loving people live there. For all those whose thoughts go out to Gaza, but they cannot visit, we hope this will be their peeking hole.
Who are we?
We are a team of media professionals who believe in engaged, ethical journalism. We don’t choose stories because they have an interesting twist: we chose this work because what we witnessed in Gaza is entirely unforgettable. We hope that the readers of these stories will not be able to remain indifferent.
Dozens of media professionals have joined our team over the last two years. So many, in fact, that we are still collecting all their bio notes. For now, you can find their names in the credits section. For further info, feel free to contact us at:
The future of this web documentary lies in your hands.
This web doc has been independently produced by Anne Paq and Ala Qandil. It came to being mostly thanks to the generous donations of friends and enthusiasts of this work. At the final stage of production, we conducted a successful crowdfunding campaign; we thank the nearly 200 people who backed us for their endorsement and believe this confirms the relevance of this project.
We also have received the significant financial support of three partners: the human rights French organisation ACAT (Action des Chrétiens pour l’abolition de la Torture),CCFD- Comité catholique contre la faim et pour le développement-Terre Solidaire and the photo collective Activestills, Anne Paq’s “photographers’ family”. Also, the support of Al Mezan Human Rights Center, which facilitated our stay and research in Gaza, is invaluable.