This article originally appeared on VICE Arabia
For many people, the Gaza Strip is synonymous with conflict and suffering. But four young, local photographers are trying to broaden the perception of the region.
Through their work, Sanad Abu Latifa, 22, Abdel Karim Hana, 23, Mahmoud Khattab, 26, and Mariam Abu Daqqa, 26, all show that while Gaza's 2 million residents face many challenges, their day-to-day life isn't constantly framed by conflict. Each photographer works individually and chooses to focus on their favourite aspect of the region, but collectively they give a more comprehensive sense of what it's like to live, work and play there.
According to Mahmoud Khattab, the best part of Gaza are its beaches. "During electricity blackouts in the summer, which can last up to 16 hours a day, people often head to the beach to escape the heat and cool down," the 26-year-old told me. "It gives adults a chance to relax and forget about the day-to-day realities of Gaza, and offers children the space to play. It's a really beautiful scene."
Abdel Karim Hana loves to walk around different neighbourhoods and capture the details of everyday experiences. "What fascinates me about these neighbourhoods is their simplicity and the beauty of the residents, who you often find in good spirits in spite of everything that's going on around them," he said. "When you walk around you learn that it's the people who define the area, and not the never-ending conflict."
For Sanad Abu Latifa, it's all about capturing people at work. "At the end of 2017, I took a few pictures of Rashah al-Hissi – known locally as the "Sheikh of Fishermen" – who spends his life between his boat and the fishing nets he's been netting and fixing for more than 60 years," Sanad told me.
"Whenever I visit the port, I see Rashad there. He's 76 years old now, and after all this time, he tells me that he's still as passionate about his work as ever."
And as far as Mariam Abu Daqqa is concerned, nothing beats the joy of capturing local children playing. "For me, the smiles on their faces speak of hope," Mariam explained. "Despite all the difficulties that living in this dangerous strip brings, you can still find so much happiness. And when I see it, I have to stop and capture it."
Scroll down to see more photos from Sanad, Abdel, Mariam and Mahmoud.