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Three months have passed since the ceasefire in Gaza was announced. The UN estimates that over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed during the summer hostilities, affecting more than 600,000 people. And though the slow pace of reconstruction is discouraging, families are moving back into their homes, trying to find normality in neighborhoods of ruins.

Shejaiya, in the east of Gaza City, was hit particularly hard when the ground invasion began. Photographer Kyrre Lien and I met Modi Hasani’s family there three weeks after Israel stopped its military operations. Residents said they were warned in advance through pre-recorded phone messages, but not everyone managed to escape. 78 people were killed within a few hours on July 20th. Among the victims were 17 Palestinian children and 14 women, along with 13 Israeli soldiers.

Secret tunnels connect this particular area of Gaza to Israel, making it prone to attacks. According to the Israeli military, hundreds of rockets were also being fired from here. Modi Hasani was lucky; his one-year-old daughter survived the attack. But the family home was severely damaged. The living room was turned into a pile of rocks and they have no water, sewage or electricity. “Where else should we go?” Hasani told us. “This is our home. I thank Allah that we can stay here.”

For a week, Kyrre photographed people with an old Russian panoramic camera named Horizont, creating family portraits in these surreal surroundings and showing that life continues, even among the ruins. -Per Christian Selmer Andersen

Kyrre Lien
Kyrre Lien is a video and stills producer. His award-winning documentary work focuses on human right issues around the globe. He has produced documentary videos for Leica and Magnum, in addition to all the major Norwegian newspapers. As a still photographer he mainly works on independent projects, in addition to some reportage for newspapers such as The New York Times and Verdens Gang.

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