Photo of a young boy in a spiderman sweatsuit stopped on a bike a bit too big for him, in front of a black door with posters and bullet holes in Palestine's West Bank.

Life in Palestine’s West Bank

Dec. 5, 2023, Jenin Refugee Camp, West Bank, Palestine (above)

Taken during my walk in the Jenin refugee camp, this photo portrays the silent strength of a child, his gaze set against a background loaded with symbols of struggle, including posters and bullet marks. Captured after one of the frequent Israeli military raids, where children bear the brunt with loss, destruction of camp infrastructure, and house ransacking and bombing. Established in 1953, the Jenin refugee camp was supposed to be a temporary refuge for Palestinians forcibly expelled from their homes and lands by Zionist groups during the 1948 Nakba. Seventy-six years later, the refugees still face Israeli atrocities.

Dec. 17, 2023, Jenin Refugee Camp, West Bank, Palestine (above)

Marlene and her family reside in this place. I met them at the end of October 2023 during the funeral of three Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces (IOF), which Israel calls the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). After the funeral, Marlene’s parents explained that the IOF invasions are making life in the camp difficult and dangerous, forcing residents to leave during the night or take refuge somewhere else. Marlene’s family has nowhere else to go. They’ve stopped repairing doors and walls since the IOF consistently destroy them; instead, they use blankets. During my visit to the camp mid-December, I witnessed additional destruction including to their home and shop. Nonetheless, the smiles and waves of Marlene and her mother testify to the resilience of the Palestinians.

Jan. 16, 2024, Nur Shams Refugee Camp, Tulkarem, West Bank, Palestine (above)

Amid the overwhelming conditions of Nur Shams refugee camp — home to 14,000 Palestinian refugees within 0.21 square kilometres — children play joyfully in narrow streets, resilient despite the hardship. Older children diligently care for the younger ones, fostering that resilience amid the wreckage of destroyed lives and homes. Since Oct. 7, the camp has been facing frequent Israeli military raids targeting members of the resistance movement who are struggling to end the occupation and attain their right of return to their home that they were forcibly expelled from during the 1948 Nakba. Each invasion brings more martyrs (killed), arrests, and destruction. Homes are bombed; doors, windows, and furniture damaged, streets carved by bulldozers; and vital infrastructure like water and sewage pipes are in ruins.

And one photo from Gaza, from 2022:

Summer 2022, Gaza, Palestine (above)

This photo is of Amani Izz Eldeen (left) and her friend enjoying moments of peace amidst the waves of the Mediterranean Sea along Gaza’s coast. I met these deaf girls during the filming of my documentary Vibrations from Gaza in the summer of 2022. Amani is a central figure in the documentary, which sheds light on the impact of Israel’s frequent onslaught and a 16-year siege imposed on over two million Palestinians in Gaza. One year later, these peaceful moments have dissipated. Since October 2023, Gaza’s inhabitants have been enduring an ongoing genocide, broadcasting to the world details of their own slaughter. The fate of Amani and other deaf children remains unknown, as I lost contact with them in November. The current complacency of Western states implicates them in the ongoing genocide against the Palestinians, including killing over 24,000 Palestinians, 10,000 of whom are children, the displacement of 1.8 million people, and the destruction of 75 per cent of Gaza’s homes and cultural, religious, and heritage sites.

Rehab Nazzal’s Bio

I am a Palestinian-born multidisciplinary artist based in Montreal. My work deals with the effects of settler-colonial violence on the bodies and minds of colonized peoples, on the land, and on other non-human life. My video, photography, and sound works have been shown and exhibited in solo and group exhibitions and screenings across Canada and internationally.

Since September 2023 I have been conducting research in the occupied West Bank, documenting the violence of Israeli occupation forces and armed settlers, which has been increasing tremendously since Oct. 7, including imposing blockades on Palestinian communities, frequent raids, displacement, killing, arrest campaigns and torture, and the destruction of homes and essential infrastructure.

This article appeared in the 2024 Feb/Mar issue.