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After war, Gaza goes back to school

Wednesday 8 October 2014 - Eye witness


Palestinian students sit in a classroom at a goverment school in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City on September 14, 2014 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)

"Pictures of children going back to school in Gaza - I've taken hundreds of them", writes Mahmud Hams, a photographer at AFP Gaza bureau. "But those I took this year, I will never forget."

"On the children's faces, in place of the joy of being reunited with friends from school, or the enthusiasm of those beginning a new school year, you can often read anxiety and bad memories. When they get there, they don't know if they will find their school friends alive after Gaza lived through its deadliest war in years, a 50-day conflict which left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead. Among them were around 500 children."

(AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)


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Editing images of ‘hell’, in close-up

Wednesday 1 October 2014 - Decoding


An editor at work at AFP's Middle East and North Africa photo desk in Nicosia (AFP Photo / Florian Choblet)

The photo and video editors in Nicosia, AFP's headquarters for the Middle East and North Africa, have to face a daily flood of unbearable images. It is their job to pore over the images from Syria, from Iraq, Gaza, Libya and other regional hotspots, and decide whether or not to publish them. It is their job to take in, for hours at a stretch each day, images of mutilated bodies, of wounded children screaming in pain, and -- more recently -- of hostages being beheaded.

Much of this ultra-violent imagery is unfit for publication under the criteria that AFP sets itself, and will end up in the bin. But not without inflicting a kind of repetitive shock to the journalists who have viewed it.

(AFP Photo / Florian Choblet)


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War as spectator sport in the Golan Heights

Tuesday 16 September 2014 - Behind the image


Israeli civilians stand near Mount Bental, in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, as they watch through binoculars the fighting between Syrian government troops and Islamist rebel fighters on September 2, 2014 (AFP / Menahem Kahana)
AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana

War as spectator sport in the Golan Heights


"It is before dawn on the Golan Heights and a squad of Syrian government troops are engaged in fierce combat with rebels of the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front", writes AFP Jerusalem-based photographer Menahem Kahana. "The clashes are taking place just metres from the barbed wire fence that separates the Syrian side of the strategic plateau from the Israeli-held sector. I am watching from an abandoned Israeli army bunker, around 100 metres from the demarcation line. This is war, taking place right before my eyes, and yet it could almost be another world. I am not a target, and none of the fighters cares remotely what is happening on the Israeli side."

"I have the strangest sense of being in a movie theatre."


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Heartbreak: Reporting on Gaza’s child victims

Wednesday 30 July 2014 - Behind the image

A relative reacts after seeing the bodies of three Palestinian children, killed in an explosion in a public playground on the beachfront of Shati refugee camp. July 28, 2014. (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)

Heartbreak: Reporting on Gaza’s child victims


AFP Middle East correspondent Sara Hussein recently completed an assignment in Gaza, where more than 1,280 Palestinians have been killed -- including more than 240 children.

WARNING: This blog includes distressing images from inside a morgue.

(AFP Photo/Marco Longari)

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Whirlwind peace drive: Kerry in job of his life

Sunday 7 July 2013 - Decoding

US Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement to the press regarding his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the US Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan on July 2, 2013.

AFP's Washington-based Shaun Tandon tagged along with John Kerry on the US Secretary of State's most recent road trip, this one to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Watching Kerry in action makes one wonder: has the former presidential hopeful found his true calling? (AFP Photo/pool/Jacquelyn Martin)

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Shooting beyond the violence

Saturday 22 December 2012 - Behind the image

A man carrying his shopping runs for cover amid sniper shots on an Aleppo road in Syria, September 14, 2012.
AFP PHOTO/Marco Longari

Shooting beyond the violence


AFP's Marco Longari was this week named as Time magazine’s wire photographer of 2012, in recognition of what the US publication described as his "indispensable" coverage from across the Middle East. He discusses some of his compelling work from the past year that saw him in Gaza, Egypt and Syria, among other places.

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Dateline Gaza: family on the (front)line

Friday 30 November 2012 - Eye witness

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"For AFP's team of Gaza-based journalists, a flare up of violence with Israel is nothing new -- with bombings, air strikes and death and destruction all part-and-parcel of living in this tiny strip of land," explains AFP's deputy bureau chief in Jerusalem. "But covering this latest round of violence was tough, with round-the-clock Israeli air strikes hammering residential and business districts that were once thought of relatively safe, exposing AFP staff and their families to a new level of risk." (AFP Photo)

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Gaza: 'Should I be filming this?'

Friday 23 November 2012 - Eye witness

Blood leaks from under the door of the al-Shifa hospital morgue in Gaza City on November 20, 2012.“Covering a conflict like the one that just ravaged the Gaza Strip for eight days confronts a journalist with the terrible spectacle of dozens of corpses, of both adults and children, that are often displayed by their families in a hellish atmosphere,” explains AFP video correspondent Guillaume Bonnet, in Gaza on special assignment. How does a journalist cope? (AFP PHOTO/Marco Longari)

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