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Journalists discuss haunting photos from Gaza and the choice to print them

Wisal Abu Odeh and her husband cooking near their tent at a makeshift U.N. camp for displaced Palestinians in Khan Younis. (Samar Abu Elouf/New York Times)
Wisal Abu Odeh and her husband cooking near their tent at a makeshift U.N. camp for displaced Palestinians in Khan Younis. (Samar Abu Elouf/New York Times)

Editor’s note: The photos in this segment include graphic depictions of violence.

An Israeli delegation is expected to arrive on Monday in Qatar for talks with mediators trying to broker a temporary ceasefire and hostage release as the war between Israel and Hamas rages on. An estimated 101 Israeli hostages are still being held in Gaza, where the death toll from raids, bombings and attacks has risen over 31,000 — more than 12,000 of them children.

The images of destruction, starvation and physical and mental pain there are haunting, and come to us through the lenses of photographers willing to risk personal safety so that we can understand what they’re seeing. Among the images we cannot un-see are those in last month’s New York Times “Portraits of Gaza.” That compilation of photos and vignettes, ironically, includes a snapshot of Gazan photojournalist Mohammed Al-Aloul, sitting in a car, head tilted back, eyes closed, cradling the body of his young son, one of the four sons he lost in an Israeli airstrike.

The photos were taken by Samar Abu Elouf, with text by veteran journalist Declan Walsh. Abu Elouf has since been evacuated to safety. Walsh joins host Robin Young from Nairobi. New York Times senior photo editor Mona Boshnaq in London joins us too. They talk about the photos in the “Portraits of Gaza” series and the importance of wartime photography.

Gaza citizens. (Samar Abu Elouf/New York Times)

A 16-month-old girl named Melisya Joudeh at a Gaza hospital with her aunt, Yasmine, keeping vigil in October. (Samar Abu Elouf/New York Times)

Melisya’s aunt, Yasmine, at the site of the girl’s destroyed family home. (Samar Abu Elouf/New York Times)

Bombs burned this young boy’s legs. (Samar Abu Elouf/New York Times)

Gazans mourn. (Samar Abu Elouf/New York Times)

The photojournalist Mohammed al-Aloul holding the body of one of his children killed in the war. (Samar Abu Elouf/New York Times)

Khaled Joudeh searches for his killed family members, including his baby sister, Misq, at the morgue in the Deir Al-Balah hospital, on October 22, 2023, After they were killed in Israeli airstrikes. Khaled is the lone surviving member of his immediate family. (Samar Abu Elouf/New York Times)

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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