Experience

Lorenzo Tugnoli: The Middle East Is a Divided Place

On August 15, 2005, the Israeli government started withdrawing troops from the Gaza Strip and eliminating the settlements. The confrontation intensifies especially often on the border of the Gaza Strip, which has been living under blockade since 2007, and on the West Bank of the Jordan River where Israeli and Palestinians are trying to co-exist. The Washington Post photojournalist in the Middle East Lorenzo Tugnoli told Bird In Flight about life in the region where the conflict has dragged on for decades.
Lorenzo Tugnoli Age 36

Italian photographer based in the Middle East, regular contributor of the The Washington Post. His images were published by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, Newsweek, Time Magazine and many others. He published “The Little Book of Kabul” in 2014, a project about people doing art in Afghanistan. His current location is Lebanon, Beirut. For his personal projects he only uses black and white photography.

The Middle East is a divided place. Borders are everywhere, between countries and among communities in the same country. It is difficult to take a public stance on these issues. Here I am in a peculiar place personally. I can access places and cities in the Middle East that many people from the Middle East will never get to see.

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Last year I spent one month in Gaza working on a story about Palestinian militants. It took long time to get access to them and most of my characters agreed to meet me only at night and in secret locations. I was interested to understand the reasons that led these young men to embrace violence. So I focused on the public image that these groups build of themselves, but also on the landscape of injustice and destruction where the people of Gaza are forced to live.

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Now I am working on a project in the city of Hebron in the West Bank. In Hebron the conflict had a heavy impact on everyday life and became really personal. Palestinians and Israeli settlers here live as neighbors, while often in the West Bank the settlements are fenced sub-urban residential areas that don’t have much relation with the surrounding Palestinian territory.

While Hebron is not a risky place to work, it is indeed tense. The tension is always there. Injustice and humiliation are really difficult to witness even when it doesn’t turn into outright physical violence.

Often in the West Bank, the settlements are fenced sub-urban residential areas that don’t have much relation with the surrounding Palestinian territory.
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