The Israeli Occupation Through the Lens of Acclaimed Photojournalist Alex Levac

As the occupation draws on and becomes bloodier, less Israelis are interested in it. The photos here show a reality that most Israeli newspapers are averting their eyes from - a reality that includes Palestinians

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Israeli soldier in Hebron in the '90s.
Israeli soldier in Hebron in the '90s. Credit: Alex Levac
Alex Levac
Alex Levac
Alex Levac
Alex Levac

Even on the first time we shot the uprising in the occupied territories, we hoped it would be our last. We hoped Israeli readers would hear the message conveyed by the protests and the clashes with the army (the demonstration in Beit Sahour in the first intifada, for instance).

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They didn't. Our readers' excitement turned into boredom, and with it the character of Israeli newspapers changed from watchdog to poodle. If in the late 80s any Palestinian casualty would be followed with an inquiry, today public interest is piqued only when the Palestinian is shot point-blank live on TV. The almost-soft photos from the first intifada are a remnant of a long-gone reality. A different generation. A different education. Pent-up hatred. Contained conflicts.

The boy, photographed in 1990 in Nablus, is crying. The soldier is holding him almost gently. What is really remarkable - almost inconceivable today – is that the soldier isn't wearing a helmet or body armor and isn't carrying any sophisticated weapons and gadgets. The trooper's only equipment are his hands, with which he holds the Palestinian teen, and the sunglasses perched on his forehead – a soldier on a walk interrupted by stone throwers. The boy, incidentally, was let go half an hour later. Perhaps the photo shows a time different not only chronologically but one with a different mentality: From soldiers in charge of keeping the order to a sophisticated army whose very being is warfare against civilians.

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Take Erez Crossing in the late 80s, too. A sniffing dog, a crooked shed. Tens of thousands of laborers pass through every day, with no digital cameras, no security checks, no soldiers armed from head to toe. The same goes for Tapuach Junction, where a lone soldier is seen yawning under a torn flag.

As the years go by, the conflict became more violent. Hatred knows no boundaries. The Jewish man who massacred Muslim believers in the Cave of the Patriarchs becomes an instant saint (see the photo of the obituary in Mea Shearim in 1995). The great hope that came with the handover of the reins in Gaza and West Bank cities shattered against the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

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The occupation lingers on and photographs are becoming harder to look at (see the color photograph from Hebron in 2008). As the occupation continues and becomes bloodier, less Israelis take interest in it. The media shuts its eyes and the public wants to read only one newspaper, which reports on a false reality where Palestinians don't exist, and those that do, deserve jail or death.

A holding cell at the Erez checkpoint, 1990.Credit: Alex Levac
From Left: Demonstration against the occupation in Taibeh, 90's, A local artist presents a statue that symbolizes the occupation in the village of Malik, 1988, and Tapuah junction, 1991.Credit: Alex Levac
Palestinians in Jerusalem, in 2001.Credit: Alex Levac
Palestinians throw rocks at Israeli troops in Anabta during the first intifada, 1989.Credit: Alex Levac
A Palestinian policeman and a child, in Deir al-Balah in the central of Gaza City, 1994.Credit: Alex Levac
From Left: Purim in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, 1995, Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, November 1995, and Demonstration against the occupation in Zeita village, 1991.Credit: Alex Levac
Armed with mock weapons at a demonstration in Jenin, 1993.Credit: Alex Levac
From Left: The first intifada in Nablus, Demonstration in Gaza, 1994, and Rabbi Fruman in Gaza.Credit: Alex Levac

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