New documentary explores Gaza in photos of Armenian photographer Kegham Djeghalian

A new Deutsche Welle documentary retraces the work of Armenian photographer Kegham Djeghalian, who captured life in Gaza, between Israel and Egypt, from the 1940s to the 1970s.

At his home in Gaza City, Marwan Tarazi keeps a little treasure wrapped in plastic bags and stored in boxes: photos and negatives from the 1940s to the 1970s. They portray a part of life in the Gaza Strip during that period and are part of the legacy of Armenian photographer Kegham Djeghalian, who opened one of the first photo studios in Gaza City in the 1940s, Deutsche Welle reports.

The black-and-white photos show a little-known side of Gaza. Some photos show the train station along the Gaza-Egypt railroad which has been long destroyed. Others are artistically lit studio portraits from the pre-selfie era, when a visit to a photographer was something special.

Kegham’s lens also captured political events: The Palestinian refugee crisis after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the Egyptian rule in Gaza until 1967.

Kegham Djeghalian’s mother had to flee with him as a toddler when the Armenian Genocide took place after 1915. First, they were displaced to Syria. Later, when his mother died, he was sent as a teenager to stay with relatives in Jerusalem, which was under the British Mandate at that time.

Then in the early 1940s, Kegham Djeghalian went to Gaza and started to work as photographer.

“I don’t know why my father went to Gaza at that time,” DW quotes his daughter Anahid Boutin as saying. Born in Gaza, she lives in France today.

“Maybe my father thought this is the best place to find work,” she adds, as many Armenians went to the Middle East looking for work at the time.

Several prominent Armenian photographers became known for documenting events in Jerusalem and other places during the early part of 20th century.

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