Tears of Gaza


The sterile way to describe the Gaza war that began in December 2008 is that it was an Israeli response to Palestinian rockets fired across the border into Israel. The war finally ended in January 2009; an estimated 1,100 to 1,400 Palestinians were killed; the Israeli army lost 13 soldiers. Now, on the one hand, you’ve got Israel, subsequently disputing reports that it deliberately targeted civilians. But then over here, you’ve got director Vibeke Løkkeberg and several Palestinian cameramen pretty much capturing Israeli missiles slamming into civilian targets. Tears of Gaza documents air-delivered incendiary weapons—prohibited in the Geneva Conventions from attacks on civilians—raining down over marketplaces, plazas, homes, and densely populated residential streets, which have already been transformed into something like a lunar regolith of debris, disintegrated bodies, and massive chunks of concrete bristling with rebar. The most difficult thing to watch is the discoveries of dead children in the aftermath of attacks—parents screaming, and overwhelmed emergency responders holding back panic-stricken fathers. This is the very unsterile subject of the film: the unimaginable violence with which families were sundered, to which this film makes you a witness. The cameras linger on the faces of children as they tell their stories, unaffected and open. While it’s a giant cliché to observe that they could be kids you’d see on your very own personal American block, well, identification with these people is not difficult, and clichés started their careers as ambitious observations.