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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Intimate portraits of Gaza's lost

Charlotte Silver 

Obliterated Families is a newly released multimedia project produced by Anne Paq, a member of the photography collective ActiveStills, and journalist Ala Qandil.

Two years in the making, it profiles ten families from Gaza partially or entirely annihilated during the Israeli bombardment in the summer of 2014.

The first chapter, released early to the press, tells the story of Ibrahim al-Kilani and his family, most of whom held German passports.

Every single member of the family was wiped out as they sought safety from the onslaught, hidden in a friend’s office in the middle of Gaza City.

Ibrahim spent the first 20 years of his young adult life in Germany, where he became an architect, married a German woman and had a daughter and a son, before moving back to Gaza when his marriage fell apart.

After returning, he remarried and had five more children. All five children were killed. They ranged in age between between 3 and 11 years old.

Absent from the telling of Ibrahim’s life story, both prior to and during his final hours, are the customary statistics and figures, political facts and flashpoint dates that usually accompany the story of Gaza’s destruction.

Such figures may strive to show the magnitude of the tragedy, but they also obscure the staggering consequence of each extinguished life.

The deeply reported profiles in Obliterated Families never depart from the perspective of the witness – the surviving family members left in grief, the neighbors who last saw the families alive, the friend who tried to find them safe shelter and sometimes Paq herself.

The video above, produced as part of the project, tells some of these stories.

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