Gaza, Palestinian Territories
Pictures of the Year: A Picture and its Story
Debris fly as smoke rises following an Israeli air strike, amid Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, May 20, 2021. Reuters photographer Ibraheem Abu Mustafa: "I have covered four wars since 2002, and I've lived through many difficult times, including the 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas this year. The Israelis would sometimes fire "roof-knock" munitions - a smaller missile fired at the top of buildings in Gaza to warn its residents to leave. The stronger missiles that followed would shake the whole area. On the eleventh day of covering the bombing of Gaza City, I went back to Khan Yunis, a city in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, to see my family. After a few hours, I received news of the Israeli army's threat to bomb a family's house in the middle of the city's market. Israel has said it provides advanced warning for civilians to evacuate and targets structures where it believes militants are operating. I was exhausted from the previous days covering the war and I hadn't slept the night before from fear of the bombing in the area I was staying. But I rushed to the scene to capture what happened. I asked around to make sure I knew exactly where the house was and stood with multiple buildings in front of me so I wouldn't get hit by any stray shrapnel from the bombing. When the warning missile hit, there was complete silence from crowds of people who had gathered to watch. Next, multiple high-explosive missiles bombed the house. Through my lens, I watched as people ran away from the scene shouting "God is great." Others moved closer to film the bombing with their mobile phones while police tried to move the crowds away as there were still some unexploded missiles. No one was injured or killed in the attack. In previous coverage of the bombing operations, we saw flames and smoke coming out of the buildings, but this time, the house's furniture, doors, windows and stones appeared in front of me flying through the air.