Haaretz photographer Uriel Sinai took first prize in the World Press Photo photography contest, in the category of general news.

He was notified of his victory on Friday.

Sinai won the prize for a series of 11 photographs that documented last summer's evacuation of Gaza settlements. View the winning photographs.

Several pictures from the series were published in Haaretz, and in international newspapers and magazines.

Canadian photographer Finbarr O'Reilly won the Premier Award - the prize for the best photograph overall. His winning shot, taken in an emergency clinic in Nigeria, depicts a baby pressing his fingers on his mother's mouth.

The World Press Photo contest, an international photography contest with a 50 year history, is considered to be the "Oscars" of photo-journalism.

"I am driven by the unexplainable need to continuously take picture after picture," Sinai said.

"I think that the interest in photography comes from people's desire to see something through another's eyes. There are hundreds like me, in Israel and in the territories, Israelis and Palestinians, who every day crawl through the dirt, and risk their lives, all to tell a story," he continued.

Sinai lived in Gush Katif for 3 months before the disengagement, and photographed the lead-up to the evacuation and the evacuation itself.

"The evacuation was very hard on me," he acknowledged.

"I lived there and came to understand the people. Regardless of my opinion of the evacuation, I found myself identifying with them and their cause," Sinai said.