Ezz Al Zanoon, 24

I am a photographer. I see with my eyes, but I also speak by using my eyes. Now when I take photos I feel a need to change the landscape. I am tired of always seeing the same thing, but I can’t move or change the landscape. I do not know where to go to look for another landscape to capture.

The place we live in is small, extending only 40 kilometers in length. If you try to move beyond the horizon, you run into a wall, a tank, a plane, or a military ship that belongs to the occupation. You can drive from the top of Gaza to its bottom in one hour. If you reach the eastern or northern borders, you see a wall. If you come near that border, the Israeli soldiers there will shoot you immediately. The border with Egypt is also closed.

Each person deals with the situation in their own way. Me, I refuse to accept the blockade. What does it even mean to accept the blockade? How can I continue to live normally despite the blockade? I wake up every morning rejecting the reality that constrains me, that constrains my people, that constrains our ideas and our futures. We are under siege in a large prison. We are given food to eat, but it is like being fed in a zoo. We are kept alive and people – politicians and journalists – visit to have a look. But we stay in our cage.

Ezz Al Zanoon
Residents of Gaza are indiscriminately prohibited from traveling or moving to the West Bank, and West Bank residents are banned from entering or moving to Gaza—a violation of the Oslo Accords.

We reject the images of us that are being shown the world. We are humans. We are proud of our humanity. We are proud of our achievements despite the difficult circumstances. No one can achieve what we have done. Despite the blockade, the wars, and the structured destructions, we continue to live and fight for a dignified life. We fight against the imposed restrictions, being triggered by our desire for life.

We have a passion to meet our people in the West Bank, Gaza, and Palestinians inside Israel  but the occupation cuts the relationship between human beings. Israel fights us by fragmenting us, cutting the relations between one human and another.

Human nature cannot tolerate imprisonment because people are born to be free. When you imprison me, I will still find a place where I can express myself. I will find an exit and use it. You, as an occupier, cannot forbid me to do this.

As long as my brain functions, where I can think and analyze things, where I can create and do what I want. I can express my ideas. As an artist, I can express many things. I can reject what I don’t want both locally and from the occupation. I will defy the difficult circumstances here through my will to live. I will photograph life and publish these photos and give the chance to whoever wants to see to learn about life in Gaza. I will publish the reality that exists far from the media spotlight. I will use social media campaigns to reach out to people.  I will break the blockade, and I will live.