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Palestinian Photographer Motaz Azaiza Makes TIME’s 100 Most Influential List

April 26, 2024


Motaz Azaiza, a 25-year-old photographer from Gaza, has been named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by TIME magazine.

He was included in the “Icons” category, lauded for his powerful documentation of the conflict in Gaza. The category also featured a range of other influential figures across various fields, including American actress Taraji P. Henson and American film director Sofia Coppola.

For four months during the recent war on Gaza, Azaiza served as a crucial chronicler of the devastating aftermaths of the war through his powerful imagery shared with millions on Instagram.

“Families displaced from homes, women mourning loved ones, a man trapped beneath the rubble,” writes TIME staff writer Yasmeen Serhan.

“His images offered a glimpse into Gaza that few in the international press—which has been all but barred from accessing the Strip—could rival.”

When discussing his work, Azaiza stressed that as a journalist, his goal wasn’t merely to report events in Palestine or create awareness but also to inspire action.

He emphasized, “What’s unfolding in Gaza isn’t just content for consumption. We’re not sharing this for likes or shares. We’re urging you to take action. It’s time to end this conflict.”

During an interview with the TIMES, Azaiza expressed his desire for his work to serve as a reminder that Palestinians are human beings enduring deep suffering in Gaza, and that they are not “human animals”.

He also highlighted the loss of over 128 journalist colleagues and called for an urgent need to protect journalists and their right to perform their job freely, without intimidation, interference or threats.

Azaiza was recently invited to participate in a panel discussion hosted by Columbia University’s Journalism School. The event, titled “Journalists Under Fire in Gaza,” was introduced by Journalism School Dean Jelani Cobb and took place in Pulitzer Hall.

Azaiza expressed that the situation in Gaza does not align with the conventional definition of a war, stating: “A war is when you have an army… It’s more akin to Ukraine or Russia—they have armies, that’s a war,” Azaiza remarked. “But in the Gaza Strip under Israeli occupation, this does not qualify as a war.”

Palestinian journalists continue to face several restrictions and targeted violence by the Israeli military. The Committee to Protect Journalists has accused the Israeli military of targeting journalists and their families in Gaza amid the highest death toll of media workers in any recent conflict.

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