“Per square kilometer and per capita, the largest foreign press corps in the world, on any given day, is here in Israel,” former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert told Israel’s Foreign Press Association in 2006. The number of correspondents in Israel has dropped significantly over the past decade, but many young would-be war photographers, known locally as “crocodiles,” still come in search of the shot that will start their careers. “Here they learn to be impartial, to seize carefully what they see,” explains Marco Longari, Middle East editor in chief at French news agency AFP.
In 2010, 23-year-old AFP photographer Ilia Yefimovich began watching weekly Palestinian protests against Israeli appropriation of their neighborhood in Silwan, East Jerusalem. But little happened until October 8, when a passing car accelerated, struck two protesting Palestinian children, and kept going.
Yefimovich’s photo of the hit-and-run captures one young body flung into the air and another plastered to the grille of the car. It was published by the UK-based Guardian and US-based New York Times. Pro-Israeli media watchdogs immediately accused Yefimovich of conspiring with the 10- and 11-year-olds and even of asking them to stone the car of David Be’eri, who chairs an association dedicated to “settling” Silwan by buying Arab-owned houses and re-distributing them to Jewish families. But children in Silwan always pepper cars with rocks, according to Yefimovich, who denies staging the image. Now 26, the photographer says he has taken “tens of thousands of pictures of guys throwing stones.” Only a few ever make the news.
Many of the rock-throwers pictured here are at checkpoints or refugee camps, some are outside of Camp Ofer, an Israeli military prison currently holding 200 Palestinian minors. According to Israel’s Military Order 1651, children may face criminal charges for rockthrowing from the age of 12.
From the pages of COLORS #86 - Making the News.