Not just numbers: online memorial publishes names, faces of Palestinians killed in Gaza
Qassem Talal Hamdan, 23, was killed on 13 July 2014 in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. An engineering student, his “dream was to be a successful engineer to build and develop his country.”
Iman Khalil Abed Ammar was just nine years old. She was killed on 20 July in the Shujaiya massacre along with her brothers, four-year-old Asem and thirteen-year-old Ibrahim.
Mahmoud Abdel Hamid Elzowidi, 23, and Mohammad Khalid Jamil Elzowidi, 20, were among five members of their family killed on 19 July when Israel bombed their house in Beit Hanoun.
These are the names of just six of the more than 1,000 Palestinians known to have been killed in almost three weeks of relentless Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
On Saturday, during a twelve-hour “humanitarian truce,” the full extent of the mass destruction Israel has inflicted was revealed as people were able to re-enter neighborhoods such as Shujaiya, and dozens more bodies were pulled from under the rubble. Many people are still missing.
Afraid that the names of those slaughtered by Israel would get lost in the staggering statistics of death, two women have set up the website Humanize Palestine (humanizepalestine.com) as an online memorial to Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks.
Bayan Abusneineh and Dana Saifan are both recent graduates of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and have both been active in Students for Justice in Palestine.
I spoke with Abusneineh, who told me that she and Saifan got the idea to start the project after seeing many graphic images of the bodies of Palestinians who had died violent deaths circulating through social media.
“Initially when everything was happening it was necessary for people to see these graphic images, to know the reality of what is going in Gaza,” Abusneineh explained. “But then I started thinking about those three Israeli settler youths who were kidnapped – their faces were everywhere. Generally, when Israelis are killed, their bodies are not shown. You only see smiling faces, and that creates empathy.”
Abusneineh said that Humanize Palestine was intended to serve first and foremost “as a reminder and memorial for our own community. People were already making an effort to put names out there, and we saw them sharing some of the images of friends and relatives when they were alive, so our project is another way to bring them together.”
But she also says she hopes that people outside the Palestinian community will “see it and understand better who Palestinians are. This is how they lived. This is how their lives were ended.”