Photo of Palestinian Woman Cradling Child’s Body Wins Award

A devastating photo of a woman grievously holding the body of her late five-year-old niece in the Gaza Strip won the World Press Photo of the Year award. Reuters, which originally published the picture, reported the news from Amsterdam, where the awards ceremony took place on Thursday.

Photographer Mohammed Salem, who is 39 and Palestinian, took the picture of Inas Abu Maamar holding the body of Saly, covered in a sheet, on Oct. 17, 2023. An Israeli missile had struck their family home. He shot it at the morgue of Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, where people were looking for family members after Israel mounted a retaliatory assault on the region following Hamas’ Oct. 7 Israeli incursion.

Palestinian woman Inas Abu Maamar, 36, embraces the body of her 5-year-old niece Saly, who was killed in an Israeli strike, at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 17, 2023.

Mohammed Salem/REUTERS/Redux

“Mohammed received the news of his WPP award with humility, saying that this is not a photo to celebrate but that he appreciates its recognition and the opportunity to publish it to a wider audience,” Reuters Global Editor for Pictures and Video, Rickey Rogers, said at the awards presentation. “He hopes with this award that the world will become even more conscious of the human impact of war, especially on children.”

The WPP jury selected the photo from 61,062 submissions from 3,851 photographers from 130 countries. All of the winning photos are viewable on the WPP site.

The jury selected Salem’s picture because it’s “composed with care and respect, offering at once a metaphorical and literal glimpse into unimaginable loss.” The jury additionally said, “The image is multi-layered, representing the loss of a child, the struggle of the Palestinian people, and the 31,000 deaths in Palestine.”

In November, Salem told the news service what the photo meant to him. “I felt the picture sums up the broader sense of what was happening in the Gaza Strip,” he said. “People were confused, running from one place to another, anxious to know the fate of their loved ones, and this woman caught my eye as she was holding the body of the little girl and refused to let go.”

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Reuters reports that 99 journalists and members of the media have died while covering the Israel-Hamas war and that the WPP hoped to highlight the dangers photojournalists like Salem face.

The New York Times has reported that 1,200 people died during Hamas’ attack on Israel in October. Last month, Time reported that the number of reported deaths in Gaza by the end of February had reached 30,000. After humanitarian aid workers were killed while trying to distribute food to Gazans by an Israeli strike, Jamie McGoldrick, a senior U.N. relief official, commented, “There is no safe place left in Gaza.”

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