run a review by Sören Sommelius on photographer Kent Klich’s book Gaza Photo Album. The book displays pictures of Gaza homes after “Operation Cast Lead” at the beginning of last year. The book aims to highlight the destruction of the Palestinian homes but it also manages to give a key insight into the wealth that in fact exists in Gaza today; wealth which all Swedish media outlets refrain from reporting on in their reporting of the situation in Gaza.
Sommelius starts off telling the Swedish readers that Operation Cast Lead was conducted during December 2008 and January 2009 when “The Israeli army, IDF, managed to prevent foreign journalists from entering into the Gaza Strip”. Due to Israel’s restriction on media presence in the Strip—which was imposed due to security risks for foreign journalists—this review’s author consequently claims that in “Sweden nobody was informed”.
With the publication of Kent Klich’s book, Sommelius seems to think that Swedish people now will be able to understand the suffering that the Palestinians are going through due to the operation in Gaza which the author states clearly was aimed at the civilian population. Sommelius clearly seems to be oblivious to the nature of the operation in the strip. The facts are that Hamas soldiers, in contradiction to international law, purposely did not wear uniforms to identify themselves as combatants. This was in order to blend in amongst civilians. Any attack on a Hamas militant could therefore be claimed as the wounding or killing of a civilian. This was a war crime committed by Hamas, not Israel.
It is clear that Sommelius has no understanding of the complex nature of the operation in Gaza. He states that Israel waged war on civilians, completely disregarding Israel’s very specific mission: preventing the militant terror group Hamas from launching rockets at Israeli civilians. These rocket attacks, which have been renewed this past week with a larger range and lethal force, also constitute war crimes, as their sole purpose is to kill, maim, and terrorize the civilian population.
Initial reaction to the pictures, such as the one below, is surprising as the living conditions in Gaza, before the war, were much higher than, for example, the standards of the mostly Muslim immigrants living in the neighborhood of Rosengård in Malmö.
Sommelius continues to bash Israel by arguing that Israel, since the end of the operation in Gaza has defied international conventions, hindered the reconstruction of buildings by classifying building material such as concrete as forbidden goods for import. He of course doesn’t mention that much of the blockade is force in order to prevent attacks from the Gaza Strip on civilians in Israel and the use of concrete for bunkers. Sommelius also fails to mention that despite the “lack” of concrete, the Hamas-led government in fact, recently managed to put up a shopping mall—this seems to be in place reconstructing homes for citizens. Neither does he mention that Hamas not long ago violently evicted Palestinian families from their homes as the government decided that a prison was going to be built on that very same spot.
It is more convenient for Sommelius to leave out this kind of information because Sommelius refuses to acknowledge that Hamas does not want to rebuild Gaza, nor homes for its citizens. This creates a propaganda exhibit for biased media outlets, who can continue to photograph homeless Gazans. In turn, maintaining some Gazans as homeless “exhibits” means that foreign NGOs will continue to pour in aid unconditionally to the Hamas government. These funds guarantee that high-positioned corrupt Hamas leaders or sympathizers can continue to build luxury homes and leisure malls while the many of the Gaza population are forced to live in poverty. Last year Sweden itself in fact contributed around 800 million Swedish kronor ($111.5 million USD) to the Strip.
Sommelius ends his article by writing:
-“ Klich’s photographs are registered, they are documentation of the Israeli army’s war crimes. In a just world the IDF’s commanders and government officials would have been put to question in trials for what took place. The pictures are proof of what happened and are therefore also accusations, pictures which accuse [Israel] of ‘crimes against humanity’”.
I beg to differ. The pictures taken by Kent Klich portray the true reality in Gaza; due to the corrupt Hamas led government some people in Gaza, as can be seen in the pictures, can and are living in luxury. Their living standards before the war were far better than that of the Swedish immigrants living in the neighborhoods of Rosengård in Malmö. (It is also a fairly safe bet that just as Hamas managed to find a way to put up a mall it will rebuild homes for those of its top echelon who may have lost their homes—if it hasn’t done so already.)
Klich’s photographic works can actually also be argued as documenting the fact that foreign donors’ money isn’t used for the benefit of the general welfare. This model might work in a socialistic and democratic country like Sweden, but not in a terrorist dictatorship like the Gaza Strip. Klich’s book fails in its objectives; it rather emphasizes the problems which will continue to exist as loads of money enable more radicalization and corruption on a small piece of land known as the Gaza Strip.