Samira Oulaillah

“Voices that Broke the Silence” is a photographic project which I undertook in Palestine last year after being successfully funded by the Office of the European Union Representative in Jerusalem to travel to the West Bank. I was able to gain access to the most difficult areas of the West Bank and was able to come into direct contact with Palestinian local people who struggle under the Israeli military’s rules and occupation of their own lands. I was also able to go inside one of the Jewish settlements in Hebron and be in direct contact with Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Most of my photographs were shot in Hebron which is the largest city in the West Bank but it is also populated by a minority of the most violent Jewish settlers who launch regular confrontations and aggressions against the Palestinian population with very little intervention from the Israeli army to stop them. Those settlers often serve as catalysts for the violence in Hebron. To be able to do this project and illustrate the violence of the settlers as well as the violence of some Israeli soldiers during their functions, I decided to explore the testimonies of former Israeli soldiers who quit the army to join an organization called “Breaking the Silence” – founded in 1995 by former soldiers- and decided to testify against their own actions in the occupied territories. Often vivid and shocking, the soldiers’ testimonies reveal their own involvement in abusing the Palestinian population or unveil violent actions they witnessed on the part of settlers and comrades.

I have chosen to use my photographs from Hebron to illustrate soldiers’ testimonies because the situation in the West Bank has not changed and the recent dramatic events have shown that violence on the part of the Israeli army and settlers is still present and Palestinians are still victims of Israel’s discriminatory policies that promote the creation of more settlements in the West Bank.

My photographs also show elements of intimidation and fear experienced by the Palestinian people, especially the Palestinian youth, on a daily basis. I want also my images to illustrate, alongside the Israeli soldiers’ testimonies, the impossible reality that those young Israeli comrades have had to face and the terrible moral price that they have had to pay once they realize what they have done to Palestinian civilians.
+44 78 843 97436


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