Heidi Levine wins 2015 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award
Freelance photographer Heidi Levine has been named as the first winner of the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award. The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) created the award to honour the courage and dedication of Pulitzer Prize-winning AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed while reporting in Afghanistan in 2014.
The award recognized Levine’s work in Gaza. “Her courage and commitment to the story in Gaza is unwavering. She documents tragic events under dire circumstances while displaying a depth of compassion for the people she encounters,” the jury wrote in their selection statement.
While she has covered three wars in the last five years and is intimately familiar with both sides, she says she had never seen this level of violence or hatred. “To be honest, what I saw was hell,” she said of the last Gaza war in August 2014, when she stayed for 40 days documenting the effects of Israel’s bombardment. “Every day I went out to photograph I thought the next day could not possibly be worse but somehow it was. It was endless and shocking.”
“How do people get up the next day if you’ve lost four children or six family members — and yet they do.”
Israel’s activities in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem resulted in the deaths of 2,314 Palestinians and 17,125 injuries last year, compared with 39 deaths and 3,964 injuries in 2013, according to the annual report by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The conflict in Gaza in July and August was largely responsible for the dramatic increase in fatalities. It claimed the lives of 2,220 Gazans while more than 11,000 people were injured and about 500,000 Palestinians were internally displaced at height of the conflict.
All photographs by Heidi Levine (Gaza, 2014)