Loss is loss – Pain has no Nation


Nothing replaces the loss of a son, not even another son. Those are the haunting words of Safia Abo Zour, a Palestinian woman whose four-year-old died in a 2011 airstrike in Gaza. In a portrait by photojournalist Eman Mohammed, Safia Abo Zour has one hand wrapped around her five-month-old; in her other hand, she holds the sweater that her older son wore the last time he went to kindergarten.

Eman Mohammed’s current work focuses on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It’s never especially chipper, but her newest project, iWar, is particularly grim. The collection, Eman Mohammed’s first set of portraits, forces you to confront the Gaza wars through the eyes of the survivors, away from the carnage, in deliberate black-and-white interiors, stark and quiet. Each photo features a person who lost someone in the wars, posed with an abandoned relic to show their absence. In a way, the domesticity of everyday life is more unnerving than the violence.


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  • “Islam Qreqe, 14 months old, sitting on a burnt motorcycle, where three of her family members were killed by a rocket fired from an Israeli aircraft drone. Islam’s father, Moataz Qreqe, was riding the motorcycle with his two-year-old son and his brother Munther when it was hit by an Israeli rocket during an airstrike at Jamal Abdul Nassesr Street in Gaza City. "
  • "‘Amputating both of my legs only made my way to achieve my dreams harder and full of obstacles, but it didn’t end it. Amputating my heart would, not my legs.’ Faiz Moemen, a Palestinian photographer and visual artist sitting next to a wheelchair with his two cameras by him.
  • “‘Samar went to the kitchen to make us tea. She never came back. I’m still waiting for her.’ Saadi Abo Zour, 28, with his son Ehab and daughter Rawan with their mother’s abaya in the background. Saadi’s wife, Samar, 20, was killed in an air strike on her house in the Al Zaitoun neighborhood."
  • “‘Nothing replaces the loss of a son, not even another son.’ Safia Abo Zour, 25, holds her five-month-old baby, Mohammed, with one hand and holds with the other the sweater her older son, also named Mohammed, wore the last time he went to kindergarten. Mohammed had just turned four years old when he was killed during the second war in Gaza in 2011 after an airstrike on his family’s house in the Al Zaitoun neigborhood. Safia named her new baby after his brother.”
  • “‘When you lose your child, you are no longer a mother. You become a broken-hearted woman till infinity. Nothing more, much less.’ Entesar Hamouda, 43, sitting next to her son’s photo and the jacket he last wore before getting killed at the age of two during the first war on Gaza in January 2009.


iWar is a work in progress, to be completed in summer 2015. Eman Mohammed will next turn her focus to survivors of the September 11th attack in New York, and then to Holocaust survivors. Though these may be unexpected subjects for a Palestinian Muslim, says Eman Mohammed, she believes pain makes for the strongest connection between people. She says, Pain has no nation. The violence keeps going in a circle. That should be enough to stop future manmade disasters.

Compilation from TED Magazine written by Thu-Huong Ha.

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