The rubble of Gaza
One year after Israel and Hamas clashed, people are still picking up the pieces
The buildings, many reduced to rubble, are colorless and drab. The sidewalks hold the overflowing dust and dirt — there's nowhere else to sweep it. This is the Gaza Strip a year after deadly clashes between Israel and the Palestinians.
Within this grey and broken city, photographer Violeta Santos-Moura, 31, still found plenty of life.
"Children playing, going to school and back with colorful bags, girls with their neat hairdos and little bows, the shops and street stalls filled with fruit," she lists. "People work, shop, do errands, go busily about their normal lives, attempting the best they can at normalcy."
It was this dichotomy that drew Santos-Moura, who is based in Tel Aviv, to Gaza a year after the summer 2014 conflict that left some 2,000 Palestinians — most of them civilians — dead, along with 66 Israeli soldiers and seven Israeli civilians. There is damage and death and sadness on both sides of this conflict. But Santos-Moura says that by focusing on a single place, she hoped to highlight a truth about war that is often overlooked: Regardless of who started it or who "wins" (and in this case, the UN says both sides may be guilty of war crimes), after the missiles and bullets quiet, the rubble — and the people living among it — remain.
Santos-Moura says she was especially moved by the plight of animals stranded at Gaza's zoo. The animals that survived remain in squalid conditions, fed occasionally by locals, but otherwise are left to fend for themselves in dirty, damp cages.
The rebuilding goes slowly. Many areas of the city still don't have electricity to power street or traffic lights in the evenings. In the meantime, the photographer says she wants to remind people that while the cameras are gone, the people are not.
"The least you can do is get close to them for a while and tell their story,” Santos-Moura says. “At the end of the day, one leaves, but they stay.”