As Palestinians count the dead during a 72-hour cease-fire declared in Gaza on Friday morning, two women continue their work of remembering the lives of those killed.
Humanize Palestine serves as an online memorial for those killed in Israel’s attacks on Gaza. The site was started by Bayan Abusneineh and Dana Saifan, who recently graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles.
In a post titled “Why we chose ‘humanize’ Palestine” they said, “The media continues to reduce Palestinians to numbers, but by attaching a photo or a story to their names, they are essentially revived and continue to live in our collective memory permanently.”
Why is it that when an Israeli goes missing or is killed, the media presents images of them from a happier time? They are usually smiling in these images or posing next to their family and friends. This helps create empathy in our hearts and connect with the person in the image on a deeper, more personal level. But when a Palestinian child is killed, images of their burned and mutilated bodies is circulated, and we immediately connect brown and Palestinian bodies with death and disposability. That person is stripped away from an identity, a family and loved ones, and a story.
Abusneineh and Saifan make contact with people who have shared pictures of family members and cross reference information circulating on the internet with official lists, news reports and information from Twitter, Tumblr and other websites.
One post shows siblings Yasmeen (4) and Hatem al-Yazji (3) embracing. They died together with their grandparents when their house in Jabalya was bombed by Israel warplanes.
Another shows Mustafa Hosni Aslan(22) asleep with his infant son in one picture, and smiling up at the baby in another. Aslan died after being shot during an Israeli raid on Qalandiya camp.
A smiling Asem Khalil Abed Ammar is shown crouched beside a shrub, holding a pink flower. The four-year-old died together with his siblings Eman and Ibrahim, aged 9 and 13, at Shuja’iyya on July 20.