This was taken in November 2000 and shows a Palestinian protester killed while throwing stones in Nablus on the West Bank in Palestine.
I first went to the Occupied Territories on Assignment for the Observer in September 2000 soon after the second Intifada erupted. I had covered conflicts in the Americas and in Northern Ireland but I really was not prepared for what I was about to experience. We all have our opinions about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, mostly shaped by our politics and what we read and see on the television. But seeing it for myself left a huge impact on me. It reminded me no matter how well informed we are, it will never convey the intense personal cost of those involved. Watching and photographing young Palestinian men die on an almost daily basis gave me a better understanding of how fed up Palestinian society was with the daily humiliation that was the Israeli Occupation.
I remember this photograph so well because funerals were always intense events involving masses of people. You were swept along in a tide of grief. But on this occasion the mourners stopped , laid the young man’s body in the middle of the street and prayed over him with an Imam and his male relatives nearest to him. It lasted only a few minutes, but enough time for me to somehow get near the scene and shoot a few frames. It was so quiet. When I got back to London looking at the contacts I was a bit stunned to see the dead man’s eyes were open. I didn’t remember seeing them open.
After those first few months I stopped going to the scenes of clashes and funerals. Not on assignment anymore I slowed down and started shooting more medium format and concentrating on portraits and daily life. I look back on that time now remembering the intensity of my days there. I still read the news from Israel/Palestine daily wondering when I will return there.
Antonio Olmos has been a working photojournalist since 1988. His first job was at the Miami Herald before moving to Mexico City to Freelance. He came to the UK in 1993 and has worked regularly for the Observer and other publications since.
Photographer since 1988, EPUK member since 1999.
See more work by Antonio Olmos