Gaza: Crutches of metal and hopes of steel

  • A doctor overseeing the condition of a patient who was shot by an explosive bullet. The x-ray image shows bone fragmentation in the patient’s leg.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
  • Paramedics evacuating an injured person during Friday protests, dubbed the Great Return March, on the edge of Khuza’a town, eastern Khan Yunis.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
  • Protestors in the Great Return March, holding the Palestinian flag on the borders of Khuza’a town during a Friday protest.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
  • A person injured in the Great Return March protests condoles with his mate, who has also been hurt in the same protests on the edge of Khuza’a town.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
  • Shadows of amputees who lost their limbs during the Great Return March, peacefully protesting their living conditions and lack of medication and health care in Rafah.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
  • Bassem al-Dukhni embraces his newborn child inside his home in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. He was wounded by an explosive bullet that led to him lose one of his lower limbs and has since lived in a dire financial situation.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
  • Bissan, daughter of Bassem al-Dukhni, stands beside her father in front of their home in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
  • Bassem al-Dukhni contemplating the sea. He says the sea gives him what he’s looking for: a place where he can complain easily and as much as he wants.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
  • Bassem al-Dukhni kicks the ball during training for the Rafah Amputee Champions team in a football field in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. The league was established with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross as a means to provide a positive outlet for Gazan amputees.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
  • Amputees who lost their limbs during Great Return March protests demonstrate peacefully in Rafah to claim their rights and demand a decent life.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
  • Bassem al-Dukhni doing bodybuilding exercises in a gym in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.
    Abed Zagout/ ICRC 2019
02 December 2019

More than a hundred people have had limbs amputated after being injured in border demonstrations in Gaza. These violent events have been extensively photographed, but the long-term impact they have had on individual people and Gazan society as a whole has remained unexplored.

In “The Loss”, a haunting photo essay developed in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Gazan photographer Abed Zagout sheds light on individual struggles to overcome disability and trauma, while also showing the larger implications of the 2018 crisis.

Socially isolated, a group of amputees in Rafah became friends. They share pain and bitterness, but also defy disability, finding fulfilment and happiness in their lives. An amputee football league, established by the ICRC, provides them with a positive outlet for their aspirations and frustrations.

Through his photographs, Abed shows beautiful and tender moments of parenthood, friendship and solitude. These moments and feelings, so universal and relatable, make a stark contrast with the painful reality of life in Gaza under occupation, punctuated by repeated cycles of violence.