From the Archive: Israel and Palestine

The Magnum Editorial and Archive teams share a selection of images from Israel and Palestine. Warning: this article includes graphic content.

The Palestine Police Force (a British colonial force made up of natives and settlers) searching passers-by at a checkpoint in Jaffa. 1936. © Philippe Halsmann / Magnum Photos

Magnum photographers have covered several key moments in the decades-long history of tension and conflict between Israel and Palestine. Below is a selection of images from the past 80 years.


Photographs in the Magnum archive date back to 1936 when Phillippe Halsmann documented growing tension in Mandatory Palestine (1920–1948), which led to the Arab Revolt from 1936 to 1939. In the above image, we see the Palestine Police Force — a British colonial police service made up of natives and settlers — searching passers-by at a checkpoint in Jaffa.

Soon after the Second World War, Magnum founders chronicled the creation of Israel, with Robert Capa and David Seymour focusing on the arrival of Jewish settlers. Meanwhile, fellow Magnum founder George Rodger captured the life of Palestinians in the aftermath of the first Arab-Israeli War (1948–1949) and the Nakba (or ‘catastrophe’ in Arabic), in which the Palestinian population suffered mass displacement and dispossession from 1948 onwards. In this first slideshow (below), we also see a selection of images from Micha Bar-Am’s archive, notably around the Six-Day War in 1967. Bar-Am’s documentation began in 1957 and spans the first 60 years of life in Israel.

The Jewish Supernumerary Police (sometimes referred to as Jewish Auxiliary Police) on the rooftop of a house in an isolated settlement in Palestine. 1936. © Philippe Halsmann / Magnum Photos
A divided sector of an Arab/Israeli village with barbed wire borderline. Israel, 1948. © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography / Magnum Photos
Crowds gather along the Tel Aviv beachfront to look at the beached wreckage of the burnt-out Altalena that was carrying 500 Jewish immigrants and arms, a result of a disagreement between the newly (...)
General Sir Alan Cunningham, the last British High Commissioner of Palestine, arriving at Haifa Airport. Jerusalem, 1948. © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography / Magnum Photos
Founder of the state of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, reads the proclamation that will establish Israel as an independent nation. Tel-Aviv, May 14, 1948. © Robert Capa © International Center of Photogr (...)
Arriving immigrants. Haifa, Israel, 1949/1950. © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography / Magnum Photos
School buildings in the YMCA camp for Palestinian children are tents that have been patched and mended for years. Jordan Valley, Jordan, 1952. © George Rodger / Magnum Photos
Two Palestinian girls reading in a refugee camp in the Jordan Valley. Jordan Valley, Jordan, 1952. © George Rodger / Magnum Photos
An Israeli officer interrogates a prisoner from a Palestinian settlement in the Gaza Strip at the onset of the Sinai campaign. Israel, 1956. © Burt Glinn / Magnum Photos
On the second day of the Six-Day War, an army convoy was rolling through the city on its way north and east. A young soldier jumped off the truck and raced over to a gray-haired woman standing on t (...)
A demonstration by ultra-orthodox Jews against autopsies. Jerusalem, 1967. © Micha Bar-Am / Magnum Photos
Collaborators cover themselves to prevent identification by villagers. Kafr al-Labad, West Bank, 1967. © Micha Bar-Am / Magnum Photos
An Israeli soldier in East Jerusalem knocks out the Arab sign naming the Wailing Wall as "Al-Buraq Wall." East Jerusalem, 1967. © Micha Bar-Am / Magnum Photos
Syrian tank of Russian origin. Near the Sea of Galilee, Golan Heights, 1967. © Micha Bar-Am / Magnum Photos
Syrian civilians travel to Damascus along route G1 to Damascus following the Six-Day War. Golan Heights, 1967. © Micha Bar-Am / Magnum Photos

In 1960, Inge Morath traveled to the Middle East, documenting several refugee camps across Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. Below is a rare contact sheet found in the archives of a beach camp in Gaza, showing displaced children at school and the daily life of the refugees. 

Contact Sheet. Gaza, 1960. © Inge Morath / Magnum Photos


Through the 1970s and ‘80s, several Magnum photographers continued to document conflict and violence in the region. In the slideshow below, we see photographs from Bruno Barbey and Chris Steele-Perkins capturing the aftermath of violence extended into the greater Middle East and North Africa, including Black September (or the Jordanian Civil War) in Amman in 1970, and the Shatila and Sabra Massacre in Lebanon in 1982. In the same year, 1982, Peter Marlow captured images of the aftermath of the Camp David Accords and Israeli protests around the return of the Sinai region to Egypt.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, photographers such as Abbas, Stuart Franklin, Susan Meiselas, Gilles Peress, Larry Towell, Jérôme Sessini, Paolo Pellegrin, Alex Majoli and Moises Saman documented a vast number of protests, tensions and tragedies in both Israel and Palestine. Towell’s ten-year documentation of life in Palestine culminated in a book titled No Man’s Land. Many of Pellegrin’s images feed into As I Was Dying — a series and book documenting the horror and despair in areas of conflict, war and disaster while giving voice to the suffering of those affected.

Palestinian Al Fatah members (Movement of Palestinian Liberation) in training not far from the Jordan River, in a military camp. Jordan, 1971. © Bruno Barbey / Magnum Photos
A Palestinian family visits their wounded son while a PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) stands guard. Amman, Jordan, 1970. © Bruno Barbey / Magnum Photos
A woman with a rifle guards a flock of sheep on a Kibbutz. Golan Heights, 1973. © Thomas Hoepker / Magnum Photos
Refugees after the massacre of Palestinians at Sabra and Chatila refugee camps. Beirut, Lebanon, 1982. © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos
Settlers sprayed by foam by Israeli troops as they protest about the return of the Sinai region to Egypt. Yamit, Saini, Egypt, 1982. © Peter Marlow / Magnum Photos
After the Madrid Peace Conference, Palestinians demonstrate for peace with olive branches next to Israeli Border Guards. West Bank, 1991. © Abbas / Magnum Photos
Israelis demonstrating against territorial concessions to the Arabs. Tel Aviv, Israel, 1991. © Abbas / Magnum Photos
Funeral of a woman killed in an ambush. Shiloh, West Bank, 1991. © Abbas / Magnum Photos
Soldiers at a checkpoint on the Jerusalem-Ramallah road. 1994. © Stuart Franklin / Magnum Photos
Palestinian and Israeli soldiers await the arrival of new Palestinian police in Gaza at the Rafah crossing near the Egyptian border. The Jericho-Gaza Agreement of May 4, 1994, specifies that negoti (...)
Yasser Arafat, President of Palestinian National Authority, arrives in Hebron. West Bank, 1994. © Gilles Peress / Magnum Photos
A local resident cleans debris from the site of regular clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers at Rachael's tomb. Bethlehem, West Bank, 2000. © Larry Towell / Magnum Photos
A young Palestinian man loading stone into a homemade catapult during clashes with the Israeli Army following the funeral of 13-year-old Moayad Osama Jawareesh, shot and killed the previous day on (...)
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) entered the Jenin refugee camp to launch “Operation Defensive Shield." After surrounding the camp and having been heavily bombed including with missiles, the IDF entered (...)
Settlers in Kfar Darom protesting the evacuation. A large group of people locked themselves in the synagogue, the child had been arrested along with his mother and was in an armored bus. Gaza Strip (...)
Mahmoud Abbas during his speech. Hebron, West Bank, 2005. © Alex Majoli / Magnum Photos
A Palestinian evicted from his home (left) by the Israelis because of its close vicinity to the 'Security' wall. Bethlehem, West Bank, 2005. © Mark Power / Magnum Photos
Family members mourn the death of a farmer killed by Israeli soldiers near the border with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip. Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, 2006. © Moises Saman / Magnum Photos
Every summer, Hamas and Islamic Jihad bring children to the summer camps for lessons in religion and the fundamentals of battle. Gaza, 2007. © Jérôme Sessini / Magnum Photos
The Ghaben family living in tents after their house was destroyed during “Operation Cast Lead.” Beit Lahia, Gaza, 2009. © Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum Photos
When complete, the Wall will be approximately 700 kilometers long, more than twice the length of the 320-kilometer 1949 Armistice or Green Line between Israel and the West Bank. Shu'fat refugee cam (...)
Farah, six years old, with her grandmother, 47 years old. Farah suffers from burns all over her body after her family was shelled during the massive bombing of Gaza by the Israeli Army on January 4 (...)

From the early 2000s, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Mark Power and Josef Koudelka have all documented the physical separation barrier between Israel and Palestinian territories, which spans 708 kilometers, including within parts of the West Bank.

Sanguinetti first traveled to Palestine in 2003, visiting refugee camps in Gaza and Bethlehem and documenting the lives of young Palestinians growing up amidst the decades-long military occupation.

Separation wall. Abu Dis, West Bank, 2004. © Alessandra Sanguinetti / Magnum Photos


To this day, multiple Magnum photographers continue to work on long-term projects around both Palestine and Israel. Over the past two decades, Peter van Agtmael, Jérôme Sessini and Paolo Pellegrin have continued to document life and reality for Palestinians during the various military operations in occupied Palestinian territories. Van Agtmael has created an extensive visual record of conflict and tragedy in communities across both Israel and Palestine. Last year, Patrick Zachmann documented demonstrations against the current Israeli government in Tel Aviv. 

A Palestinian boy after getting tear gassed during weekly protests against the occupation. Nabi Saleh, Occupied West Bank, 2013. © Peter van Agtmael / Magnum Photos
A bullet hole from the Second Intifada in the house of an Israeli settler. Hebron, Occupied West Bank, 2013. © Peter van Agtmael / Magnum Photos
The funeral of Avraham Walz, 29, killed in an attack earlier that day by a Palestinian in a stolen digger. Six Israelis were injured and the assailant, identified as Muhammed Naif el-Ja’abis. Walz (...)
Children in a bomb shelter during Operation Protective Edge. Since 1991, houses have been mandated to be built with bomb shelters, but in the older neighborhoods, communal bomb shelters are still i (...)
The Najar family in their destroyed home. Operation Protective Edge lasted from July 8 to August 26, 2014, killing 2,251 Palestinians of which 1,462 are believed to be civilians. 67 Israeli soldier (...)
Israeli soldiers in Old City. Street scene in Old City. Jerusalem, 2017. © Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum Photos
Clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces following US president Donald Trump's statement on Jerusalem status. Ramallah, West Bank, 2017. © Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum Photos
Israeli security and counter-terrorism company Caliber 3 trains foreign tourists (US and Mexican) in shooting assault rifles and basic counter-terrorism tactics. The Israeli settlement of Gush Etzi (...)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Jerusalem, 2019. © Alex Majoli / Magnum Photos
Zvi Sukot, spokesperson for the Israeli settlement Yitzhar, at home with his daughters. Yitzhar is known for its hardline nationalistic views and is often in confrontation with nearby Palestinian v (...)
Demonstrators against the current Israeli government and in defense of democracy are gathered in Kaplan Street. Tel Aviv, Israel, 2022. © Patrick Zachmann / Magnum Photos
Iron Dome intercepts incoming rockets from Gaza. Sderot, Israel, October 2023. © Peter van Agtmael / Magnum Photos
A dead Hamas fighter outside burned homes in Kfar Aza, a kibbutz on the border with Gaza and the site of one of the worst massacres of the October 7 attack by Hamas. Approximately 100 residents wer (...)
The home of Yarden, suspected to have been kidnapped by Hamas and taken to Gaza. Be’eri, Israel, October 2023. © Peter van Agtmael / Magnum Photos
The body of a Hamas fighter killed during the fighting to retake the Kibbutz. Israel, 2023 © William Keo / Magnum Photos
Bedouins resettled elsewhere in Taybeh, displacing families driven out in the middle of the night by armed Israeli settlers. West Bank, 2023. © William Keo / Magnum Photos
The mayor of the town of Rammun points out areas where Israeli settlers are moving in illegally. West Bank, 2023. © William Keo / Magnum Photos
Friday prayer. Palestinian Muslims are prevented by Israeli military police from praying at the Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City. Jerusalem, 2023. © Jérôme Sessini / Magnum Photos
Anti-missile shelters. The majority of Sderot's 30,000 inhabitants have left the city since the Hamas attack on October 7. Sderot, Israel, 2023. © Jérôme Sessini / Magnum Photos
Israel protection fence in the area of Al-Ram near Ramallah. West Bank, 2023. © Jérôme Sessini / Magnum Photos

In October of this year, Peter van Agtmael, William Keo and Jérôme Sessini traveled to Israel and the West Bank in the aftermath of the unprecedented Hamas attack on Southern Israel on October 7, 2023. Since the attacks, Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip with airstrikes, killing over 14,000 at the time of writing, and displacing millions. 

The front door of a house is pierced by bullets. Kibbutz Kfar Aza, Israel, 2023. © William Keo / Magnum Photos

Magnum Photos stands for the freedom of the press and against the targeting or silencing of journalists in the field.

More on this:

Three Voices From Palestine Curated by Myriam Boulos

Peter van Agtmael: A Decade of Documenting Israel and Palestine

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