Occupied Pleasures, from Gaza and across the Occupied Territories, was taken just last summer. It explored how the people I encountered utilized a love for life, perseverance, and sharp sense of humor to survive the daily indignities of a 47-year occupation. It is acutely painful to watch what is happening now. Every morning I awake in anxiety, sending out messages to see if my friends are alive. Many of them are out on the front lines, documenting the dead…one, a father whose daughter was born just two months before my son, is volunteering to drive as a paramedic under direct fire, as he cannot bear limply sitting and waiting to die and not helping. He and his family treated me as one of their own during my stay in Gaza, refusing to let me out of house without a full meal, worried as I was pregnant. Another friend, a fiercely brave journalist and self-professed feminist, welcomed the birth of twin cousins at the start of the assault, with a small celebration despite the present fear.
OCCUPIED PLEASURES: West Bank: Teenage girls try on dresses for an upcoming dance in Ramallah.
Yesterday, the Israeli army killed nine members of her family, including one of the babies, rendering the twins one. The Islamic University (one of two main education institutions) where I spent much of my time with charming young ladies studying English literature, eager to practice their English and explain their dreams despite the seven-year siege that limited them, was struck two days ago by Israeli aircraft…now in complete ruins. There is now a humanitarian ceasefire on (we are not holding our breath it will hold long), which will allow the Palestinians to count their dead. Dig through the rubble. This is the third time they have done so since 2009. For now the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirms 1829 Palestinians killed, with 9450 wounded…. those rising numbers are showing no signs of abating.
Tanya Habjouqa’s series ‘Occupying Pleasures’ was curated by Manik Katyal in November 2013 for Warsaw Photo Days, Poland.