Skip to main content

Globe photojournalist Goran Tomasevic reflects on what he saw in a region at war, and the horrific events that he couldn’t see

After hearing of the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel, Globe photographer Goran Tomasevic immediately set out to travel to the Gaza region. However, by the time he arrived, Israeli troops had completely sealed off the strip in preparation for the ground invasion that continues today. For weeks, Mr. Tomasevic instead documented the crisis in Israel and the West Bank, areas he knew well: In the early 2000s, he lived in Jerusalem, and over a long career as a conflict photographer, he photographed many funerals and clashes across the Palestinian territories.

Mr. Tomasevic last worked in Gaza in 2017. He has not seen the region improve since then. “Now it is new voices, new guns,” he says. “It’s very sad – it makes me sad. Basically you see how [journalists] are not important in telling some stories because we didn’t make any changes. But what to do? We need to continue doing it.”

Below, Mr. Tomasevic provides commentary to The Globe and Mail on some of his own photos from this turbulent recent period.

Kibbutz Re’im, Oct. 11

Hamas militants killed hundreds of Israeli civilians at the Supernova music festival on Oct. 7. Walking through the site four days later, Mr. Tomasevic was struck by the sight of the personal belongings – phone chargers, wallets, blankets, and so on – of the people who had been there at the time of the attack. Reflecting on the photo of a toddler’s shoe, Mr. Tomasevic said sometimes a picture can “show even more without showing the gruesome picture of dead bodies.”

Open this photo in gallery:
Alumim Kibbutz, Oct. 11

Israeli forces fought back against the militants at the music festival and at Alumim Kibbutz near the Gaza border. While driving in the area, Mr. Tomasevic saw many bodies. He stopped to carefully photograph those of Hamas militants near the kibbutz.

These three images from the kibbutzim attempt to “reflect the brutality” of war in the aftermath of the initial attacks, Mr. Tomasevic said.

Ramallah, Oct. 18

Mr. Tomasevic was in Ramallah as clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces increased. Protesters were setting tire fires and throwing rocks, and Mr. Tomasevic recognized Israeli forces were retaliating with live ammunition.

At one point he turned and saw two young boys leaning out the window of a car. “I would not want to take kids through gunfire and protests but maybe they had seen this many times before. It was surreal. It was reflecting the situation – you have kids driving through clashes and one boy looked concerned while the other boy doesn’t seem scared.”

The car with the children drove through the protest and out of his sight. Reuters later reported two protesters had been killed in the area by Israeli forces on Oct. 18.

Open this photo in gallery:
Ramallah, Oct. 20

Mr. Tomasevic had covered a number of past protests in the West Bank and was used to seeing Israeli forces firing rubber bullets at protesters, but on Oct. 23 he had to negotiate working around live ammunition. As a member of the press in clearly labelled safety gear, he felt fairly confident that he would be safe, as long as he avoided provoking the Israeli border guards. Here, Mr. Tomasevic captured the moment that a protester who had been throwing rocks was shot in the leg.

Open this photo in gallery:
Jerusalem, Oct. 20

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the holiest sites in Islam, located in Jerusalem’s Old City on a hill known to Jews as Temple Mount. Jews revere it as a vestige of their two ancient temples and, as such, it is a flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Under the decades-old “status quo,” Israel allows Jews to visit only if they refrain from religious rites. Muslims are allowed to pray at the mosque. Mr. Tomasevic was curious to see how the tension would play out on the Muslim day of prayer, so on a Friday he visited and captured this photo of worshippers who were denied access to the mosque and forced to line up outside while being closely monitored by Israeli security forces.

Jenin, Oct. 27

While in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, Mr. Tomasevic photographed a number of Islamist militant funerals. On Oct. 27, two fighters were killed in a raid by Israeli forces. Inside the mosque, one mourner wore a mask and carried a rifle – “quite normal in conflict,” Mr. Tomasevic said. When the mourners carried the body out, Mr. Tomasevic captured a compelling image of mourners carrying rifles and shouting, while one man places his hand tenderly on the head of the deceased.

Open this photo in gallery:
Jenin, Oct. 30

While Gaza was being bombed, many areas of the West Bank were being raided by Israeli forces. In Jenin, a Palestinian man stands by his store, which was destroyed in an Israeli raid.

Open this photo in gallery:
Ramla, Israel, Oct. 31

After the Oct. 7 attacks, the remains of victims were kept in shipping containers at the Israeli Defence Forces’ Shura military base, in some cases for weeks as the IDF waited for the victims to be identified. Though he prefers to travel on his own, Mr. Tomasevic asked to visit the facility with other journalists – balancing access with military and government forces is difficult. In an especially wrenching moment, a spokesman indicated one of the makeshift shrouds and showed him the contents, saying “this is the body of a child.”

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe