Devastating Image of Aunt Grieving in Gaza Wins World Press Photo of the Year Award

Mohammed Salem/Reuters
Mohammed Salem/Reuters

A harrowing photograph showing a woman in Gaza sobbing in a morgue as she cradles the body of her 5-year-old niece won the 2024 World Press Photo of the Year Award on Thursday.

Mohammed Salem, a 39-year-old Palestinian Reuters photographer, captured the image at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the south of the enclave on Oct. 17, 2023. The picture shows Inas Abu Maamar, 36, embracing the shrouded corpse of her niece, Saly.

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“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,” Rickey Rogers, Reuters’ Global Editor for Pictures and Video, said at a ceremony in Amsterdam. “He hopes with this award that the world will become even more conscious of the human impact of war, especially on children.”

Salem had gone to the hospital while Palestinians were looking for their missing loved ones in the wake of Israeli airstrikes. He said at the time of the photo’s publication that the sight of Inas was especially poignant as his own wife had given birth just days earlier.

“It was a powerful and a sad moment and 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.”

“I lost my conscience when I saw the girl, I took her in my arms,” Inas told Reuters.“The doctor asked me to let go... but I told them to leave her with me.” She said her own uncle and aunt were also killed in the strike, which hit Inas’ uncle's house. Saly’s mother and sister died too.

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