Video: Gaza’s beauty and struggle from above

In this video, the Gaza Strip can be seen from above: not from an Israeli military aircraft, but through the drone camera of Soliman Hijjy, a 31-year-old aerial photographer in the territory.

“I started aerial photography during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza. We recorded the extent of the destruction that Israel caused in its last assault on Gaza,” Hijjy told The Electronic Intifada.

Over the course of a 51-day assault on Gaza that summer, Israel killed an average of 11 children per day.

When the Great March of Return started in March 2018, Hijjy took to documenting Israel’s crimes at the Israel-Gaza boundary then too.

He says that aerial photography “played a big role in recording the events” and “drew attention to the marches and the Palestinian issue.”

Just as Israel targets reporters on the ground, aerial photographers too face significant obstacles.

Israel bans so-called “dual-use” items from Gaza on the pretext that they may have military purposes.

The list has included medical supplies, binoculars, several kinds of cameras, GPS equipment and many other basic commodities.

“Everywhere else in the world, people are permitted to take out their camera and take pictures, except for us,” Hijjy told The Electronic Intifada.

He says that Israel’s occupation is the biggest obstacle to journalistic freedom.

Through his photography, Hijjy also wants to convey Gaza City’s natural beauty, “to showcase normal life, even as we show the political circumstances, the destruction and the blockade,” he says.

“People want to see the beautiful aspects of Gaza, to show that Gaza is full of life and it is beautiful, but its political reality and Israel’s blockade and occupation are what tarnish its beauty.”

Hijjy hopes to one day take pictures in other Palestinian cities, including Jerusalem, Jaffa and Acre.

Video produced by Amjad Ayman Yaghi, camera work by Jaber Badwan, footage provided by Soleiman Hijjy and editing done by HQ Company, which Hijjy heads.