From Above, Even 2020 Looked Good: A Bird's-eye View of Israel's Year With COVID

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A day of mourning at the Mar Saba Monastery in the northern Judean Desert, 2020.
A day of mourning at the Mar Saba Monastery in the northern Judean Desert, 2020.Credit: Haim Yefim Barbalat
Naama Riba
Naama Riba
Naama Riba
Naama Riba

The 17th edition of the Local Testimony photojournalism exhibition opens on December 24, and as befits a year of social distancing, many of the pictures were taken using a drone.

Because of the coronavirus, this year the competition, which features Israeli and Palestinian photographers, will be held outdoors at Tel Aviv’s Mediton complex.

One outstanding example is Haim Yefim Barbalat’s shot of the Mar Saba Monastery in the northern Judean Desert. At the site, monks lit hundreds of candles to mark the death of the monastery’s founder.

People training to be Santa, floating in the Dead Sea, 2020.Credit: Ariel Schalit
The new border fence with Egypt that extends all the way to the Eilat Mountains, 2020.Credit: Doron Nissim
An Israeli rock climber enjoying a dangle, 2020.Credit: Daniel Rolider

Ariel Schalit also has a Christian-themed photograph: Men and women from the United States, Germany, Denmark and Romania, who have trained to work as Santa Claus, are floating in the Dead Sea in their Santa suits.

Doron Nissim will exhibit a long-exposure photograph of the border fence with Egypt, which was expanded toward the Eilat Mountains following the terror attack on a local highway around a decade ago.

Several of the pictures are linked to the coronavirus, including Haaretz photographer Tomer Appelbaum’s drone shot of a Black Flag protest in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in April; the participants are social-distancing.

Sheep grazing at Kibbutz Ramot Menashe in the north, 2020.Credit: Yoel Robert Assayag
Basketball courts at the Sportek sports complex in Tel Aviv, 2020.Credit: Gilad Topaz
Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Square, a popular outdoor site during the coronavirus crisis, 2020.Credit: Guy Privas
Tomer Appelbaum's drone photo that won him a 2020 Siena Award: Rabin Square during a protest against the Netanyahu government's handling of the coronavirus crisis. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Guy Privas is represented by a photo of Dizengoff Square that, in the time of the pandemic, has become the most popular meeting place in Tel Aviv. Gilad Topaz photographed the basketball courts at the Sportek in Tel Aviv.

Over 430 photographers submitted work for the competition that is being curated by Eldad Rafaeli. The exhibition will be open Sundays through Thursdays 10 A.M. to 7 P.M. and Fridays 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. Admission is free. The exhibition closes in January.

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