Four photojournalists, two in Israel and two in Gaza, provided context behind their powerful images.
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Bodies in black bags, lined up on the ground in the Israeli village of Kfar Azza. A woman holding the body of her grandson in Khan Younis, Gaza. Devastated mourners at a funeral for their loved ones. A man, wounded and dazed, following an airstrike.
After Hamas, which controls Gaza, attacked Israel on Oct. 7, photographers documented moments of mourning and later, mobilization. Israel retaliated by bombarding Gaza with airstrikes; a photographer in the Gaza City neighborhood of Al-Nasr captured images of children looking toward the sky, fearing aerial attacks.
Over the past two weeks, the photojournalism of The New York Times has relayed the horror and human cost of the conflict. The photographs are hard to look at, but The Times publishes them to convey to readers the gravity of the devastation in the region.
“These are images of loss and death. Of civilians caught up in war. In some cases, they are proof of crimes,” said Gaia Tripoli, a senior photography editor for The Times.
Ms. Tripoli, who is based in London, oversees the Times photography coming out of Israel and Gaza. She said her team takes great care when deciding whether to publish a graphic image, weighing the newsworthiness of the photograph and considering the dignity of those pictured.
If the editors decide that a photograph should be published, they then discuss its placement in an article. Does the photo appear next to the headline, where it will immediately confront the reader? Or should it be placed a few paragraphs down in the text, so as not to disturb someone who isn’t expecting it? Should it be used to accompany posts on social media?
Below are four photographs taken by freelance photojournalists who are covering the war for The Times. Sergey Ponomarev, a Russian photojournalist, and Avishag Shaar-Yashuv, an Israeli photojournalist, are in Israel. Samar Abu Elouf and Yousef Masoud are Palestinian photojournalists in Gaza. In email exchanges and phone calls, they provided context that goes beyond the frame to Times Insider. Mr. Masoud and Ms. Abu Elouf’s accounts have been translated from Arabic. — Terence McGinley
Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
KFAR AZZA, ISRAEL This photo was taken on a basketball playground. That day, Israeli soldiers and volunteers were recovering bodies from the Kfar Azza kibbutz, which was attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7. It was a low-income housing complex. Many houses were one-bedroom apartments, probably occupied by couples or single young people. With a short distance to the Gaza Strip, the border fence was just outside the kibbutz. Soldiers were waiting for another truck to transport bodies because the one in the frame was already filled and they didn’t want to put bodies on top of one another. — Sergey Ponomarev
Credit…Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times
GAZA CITY I took this picture on the last day before I evacuated Gaza City to go to Khan Younis, in southern Gaza. I was sleeping at the Al Shifa Hospital and had just woken up to the sound of a very loud explosion. It was an airstrike at the nearby Shati refugee camp. I knew there would be casualties; I went to the door of the emergency room area, where they would be coming in. It’s different, witnessing the wounded in real life rather than seeing them in a picture. You see their expression, their shock, their emotions. They appear lost and confused.
It’s not easy photographing people who were asleep and then woken up by a strike and found themselves surrounded by the wounded and dead, searching for their children and loved ones. A photograph captures a moment, but not necessarily the horror surrounding it. I spend most of my time in the hospital, because it’s the only way to be connected to what is happening around me. Outside the hospital there is no electricity or internet. I am on standby here. Since the start of the war I haven’t slept at all in my home. — Samar Abu Elouf
Credit…Avishag Shaar-Yashuv for The New York Times
GAN YAVNE, ISRAEL As a photographer, you attend a funeral and hope that your presence won’t add to the pain of the families. At previous funerals I had photographed in Israel since the attack by Hamas, I didn’t know the family — but the people who were buried at the funeral here, I knew very well. The evening before, their family contacted me to inform me of the funeral date.
I’m used to the camera protecting me, serving as a kind of shield. This time my pain was too close and too great, and the camera wasn’t able to hide my tears.
During the funeral, I photographed alongside the rest of the media,to disturb the proceedings as little as possible. At the end, when all the attendees approached the graves, I approached for the first time. From there we could feel the pain and grief in the faces of the people. — Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Credit…Yousef Masoud for The New York Times
KHAN YOUNIS, GAZA I took this picture on the morning of Oct. 10 at Nasser Hospital. The woman held the body of her grandson before his funeral. His father was also killed when their house was destroyed in an airstrike in east Khan Younis, Gaza. — Yousef Masoud
Translation provided by Mona Boshnaq.