A tribute to the man I can’t forget
Based on the recollections of Anne Paq, written together with Ala Qandil and Dylan Collins
More than a week into covering Israel’s offensive in Gaza, my body was on auto-pilot: grab the equipment, look for a high point, climb, hold camera steady, document. And, of course, get people’s names – it wasn’t always possible to get much more than that. Often, I had to choose between catching a few more shots and running after those I had photographed in hopes they would share their names with me despite the chaos of the rushed funerals, hectic hospital corridors, and morgues overflowing with bodies, blood, sweat, and tears of the bereaved. It was in the hospitals that we often learned the news about the latest attacks. This was also how we found out about the scale of the destruction and death in the village of Khuza’a: in Khan Younis hospital, in the southern end of the Strip.
The hospital courtyard was full of people who had just managed to escape nearby Khuza’a, a besieged village. Ambulances could barely get through the crowds. Some people were crying, some screaming, and everyone tried to ask the paramedics arriving in the ambulances about their loved ones. Many survivors had been forced to flee and leave injured and dead family members behind. They told us about scores of dead, of others still trapped by the relentless bombing, of ambulances unable to reach the injured, of the flattened houses of their village.