Children play in a makeshift tent in the Al-Zaiton neighbourhood.
Palestinian refugee camps were created after the 1948 Palestine War to accommodate people who fled or were expelled from what was to become the State of Israel. The Gaza Strip has eight official camps and over a million registered refugees. Socio-economic conditions are poor, with high unemployment, cramped living conditions and an inadequate infrastructure.
As someone who was born in the Gaza Strip and now works there as a journalist, I spend an enormous amount of time in the camps – covering daily life, following news stories, or sometimes just visiting family and friends. Life here is tough. Often people don’t know whether or not they will have the next meal on the table. Yet whatever worries their parents might have, every afternoon children gather in the streets to play. It struck me that despite their poverty, their lack of education, and poor health conditions, the children were simply doing what children do, trying to live a normal life. I spent hours among them, until my presence and my camera no longer bothered them, and they could play and react naturally. Their innocence became for me an illustration of hope. You see hope in their simple, spontaneous manner, in their ready smiles and clear glances. And it struck me that there is a lesson here for adults, too. That hope is the positive energy that supplies the spirit with what it needs in order to cope with conditions of difficulty, despair and grief.