F or months, Hamas has been lighting kites on fire in Gaza and sending them over the border into Israel. What that has done is massive damage to the landscape of southern Israel, causing a massive ecological disaster. To help get the word out about the crisis, Israeli photojournalist Eddie Israel started דרום שחור – פרוייקט הצילום הגדול, Black South – The Great Photography Project, which will be on display at the Sabes JCC from July 20-Aug. 31.
TC Jewfolk had an e-mail conversation with Israel about where he gives us the lowdown on the project, why he started it, and what kind of attention the project has garnered from around the world. (Editor’s note: The answers were translated from Hebrew, and have been edited for grammar).
Q: Where did the idea for this project come from?
A: [I’ve been] a photojournalist for about 25 years and [this] happens next to my home, so I’m there almost every day [to] see and feel this catastrophe, and I realized
that the amount of what is happening with the kite terror is not known & shown. In the past few years, I have established my photography learning center “HASIFA” (Exposer), so I thought to myself, I have my 100ish students, I’ll give them all a call and even if only a 1/3 will come it will be great. Making a long story short, I’ve opened a Facebook event for all photographers, calling them for a special service duty. Friday morning (July 13) I came to our checkpoint and there they were almost 400 photographers. I was and still am amazed.
Q: What are you hoping people learn from this?
A: We are hoping this will bring the horror and the capacity the of ecological disaster made by Palestinian kite terror [for all to see]. It is unbelievable that they have burned forest, fields, flowers, and wildlife in the amount of 35,000 dunams (more than 8,648 acres), it’s about 10 times of Central Park! And this comes from the people claiming they love this land, and that they want it; we don’t get it: How you destroy something you love?
Q: How does Israeli media cover this compared to how the international media has done so?
A: So far we have done loud noise with this project for 4 days I have been interviewed [by] every media source is in Israel, my colleagues are spreading it worldwide in English, French, Spanish, Russian and more. All week, more and more photographers come to keep on shooting, this Friday a bunch of them got organized to shoot together, it has become an on-going event. Of course, it is all coordinated with the Israeli firefighters, troops and other authorities.
Q: Other than the Israeli Firefighters, how else is the fire being dealt with or prevented? (volunteers? IDF? Etc.)
A: Of course, as is has started all people in Israel started to join for solutions. For now, we [have] some drone locating the kites from far and [send] them to non-populated areas. There more things that the IDF (and others) are doing, but for now its top secret so we don’t really know to tell.
Q: How have the fires affected the daily lives of the people living in that area and how would you describe the overall feeling and mood?
A: Its school summer vacation these days and kids are supposed to be at their summer fun time with friends in the pool, in field flying kites, all the things kids do; they don’t! For the adults, we were waiting to [watch] the World Cup games and we just can’t find ourselves relaxing and watching a game. It’s an insane daily routine.