Louder than bombs: Gaza's journalists remain defiant

Louder than bombs: Gaza's journalists remain defiant
4 min read
27 April, 2015
Feature: Last year was the bloodiest in Gaza for journalists, with 17 killed. Here is the story of two survivors who vow to continue their work.
Moussa was severely injured covering the Israeli assault on Gaza last year
Last year 17 journalists were killed in Gaza, including an Italian, the most bloody year on record in the enclave.

Many died in Israel's summer war. The homes of 42 journalists were completely destroyed in the assault, while a further 61 were partially damaged. 

A further 19 media offices were targeted, with some being completely obliterated.

Journalism in the Gaza is now considered to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

During the war, two photographers, Hatem Moussa and Hamid al-Shubaki, were badly injured and have been unable resume work.

On 13 August, Moussa, of the AP news agency, was asked to film police removing unexploded ordance at Beit Lahia.

He was joined by his usual media crew, along with an Italian journalist.

"I was anxious; I felt that something was going to happen, that is why I stood 3m away and I warned my colleagues to do the same," said Moussa.

Then, as he took pictures from what he thought was a safe distance, a rocket exploded.

"I did not feel or hear anything; I picked up my camera and started taking photos of those killed. There were six dead, including the explosives expert and the Italian journalist. I was injured in my hand. I dropped the camera and about 30 more rockets and missiles exploded."

Moussa was injured in his hand, stomach, and feet. Nobody helped him fearing further explosions and so he was left to crawl 5m to safety.

As he was transferred to the hospital he fell into a coma. The father of four was unconscious for a month and a half and had a leg amputated.

Since his case was critical, he was sent to Hadassah hospital in Israel.
     I did not feel or hear anything; I picked up my camera and started taking photos of those killed.
Hattem Moussa, photojournalist

"I have an artificial leg and I am still receiving treatment. I was injured about seven times between 2000 to 2015, but the latest was the most serious," he said.

Moussa also understands the dangers Gazans are subject to, having rescuing three people trapped under rubble during the war.

Death surrounded him in Gaza. "I will never forget seeing my childhood friend among those dead when I was taking pictures. I was so shocked that I broke my camera and held him. I took him to my car and started driving along the streets," Moussa said.

No regrets

He also remembers seeing a child on his street dead after another Israeli bombardment.

"I was told that my wife and children were injured. Yet, I could not leave my work to get them an ambulance," he said.

Despite his injuries he said that he will never give up on being a photographer.

"It was my job and my method of delivering my and the homeland's message. Every day I come to my office to check my cameras, and to spend some times with my friends hoping to resume my work in the near future," he said.

Hamid al-Shubaki, a 24-year-old photographer with al-Manarah news, as injured during an Israeli attack on al-Shujaaiyah market.

"It was 4pm on 30th July, the third day of Eid al-Fitr, and I went to cover the massacre at al-Shujaaiyah area. There were so many dead, but as soon the ambulance arrived, the areas was targeted again with 12 artillery shells," said Shubaki.

The attack killed 33 and injured 200, Shubaki said. 

"I still remember that, fortunately for us, a horse rushed through the crowd, and dispersed us, reducing the number of deaths. Hundreds could have been killed."

Two of his colleges were among the victims - Sameh al-Iryan and Rami Rayyan - while one more was injured.

Despite his injuries, Hamid crawled to his friend to give him a camera to take pictures. For 25 minutes he was left bleeding until an ambulance arrived.  

He was sent to Egypt due to lack of medical facilties in Gaza. 

He is left with a piece of shrapnel in his belly - any attempt to remove it could threaten his life.

"After three months of treatment I was able to stand up for the first time, so I returned back to the office after five months. I still have difficulties, so I am currently working as a director of the photography department as I still can't hold a camera," Shubaki said.

He called on human rights organisations, journalist unions and give media personnel in Gaza better protection. 

Despite the dangers, Shubaki remains defiant.

"I will continue being a photographer and if my injuries  affect my work, I am sure there will be thousands more who will continue to deliver the message for our homeland."