Inas Abu Maamar (36) cradles the body of her niece Saly (5) who was killed, along with her mother and sister, when an Israeli missile struck their home, in Khan Younis, Gaza. 
2024 Photo Contest, Asia, Singles

A Palestinian Woman Embraces the Body of Her Niece


Mohammed Salem

17 October, 2023

Inas Abu Maamar (36) cradles the body of her niece Saly (5) who was killed, along with her mother and sister, when an Israeli missile struck their home, in Khan Younis, Gaza. 

The photographer describes this photo, taken just days after his own wife gave birth, as a “powerful and sad moment that sums up the broader sense of what was happening in the Gaza Strip”. He found Inas squatting on the ground, embracing the child, at the Nasser Hospital morgue, where residents were going to search for missing relatives. Inas had raced to the family home when she heard that it had been hit, and then on to the morgue.

The 75-year-long Israel/Palestine conflict escalated on 7 October 2023, when Hamas-led fighters launched attacks on multiple locations in southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people, wounding more than 2,500 and abducting around 250 as hostages. In response, Israel launched airstrikes and formally declared war on Hamas the following day, mobilizing army reservists and launching an offensive on Gaza. 

At the outset of the war, Israel instructed Gazans to evacuate to the area south of the Wadi Gaza seasonal river for their safety. Yet, according to reports, Israeli airstrikes heavily bombarded Khan Younis (21.8 km south of Wadi Gaza) from mid-October. Many of those killed were families who had left Gaza City days earlier. 

By mid-March 2024 (the time of writing), Israel's attacks on the occupied Palestinian territories had killed over 30,000 people and injured more than 70,000. Palestinian women and children accounted for more than two thirds of the death toll, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The International Court of Justice is considering a case brought by South Africa alleging that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Mohammed Salem
About the photographer

Mohammed Salem (b. 1985) is a Palestinian photojournalist based in the Gaza Strip.  Salem holds a media degree from Gaza University and has been working with Reuters since 2003. While his primary focus lies in documenting the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, he has also covered various international ...

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Technical information
Shutter Speed


Focal length

50 mm



Jury comment

The jury was deeply moved by how this image evokes an emotional reflection in every viewer. Composed with care and respect, it offers at once a metaphorical and literal glimpse into unimaginable loss. Set in a geographically distant medical setting, it resonates globally, urging us to confront our desensitization of the consequences of human conflict. The image is multi-layered, representing the loss of a child, the struggle of the Palestinian people, and the 31,000 deaths in Palestine. Symbolic of the toll of conflict, the image makes a statement on the futility of all wars. The jury recognized that this photographer was awarded for the same subject nearly a decade ago, underscoring the continued struggle for recognition of such a pressing issue.