Swedish photographer Loulou d’Aki didn’t know that when she arrived back in Gaza on Sunday after a trip home, she would be photographing joy, not war, just two days later.
On Tuesday, Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed on a long-term cease-fire that paves the way for meaningful negotiations about constructing a port in the territory and other long-term demands. As the announcement came down, d’Aki was in the midst of a photo shoot after a night of heavy bombardment in the Strip. All of a sudden, the children in the apartment ran to the windows as they heard the first sounds of celebration, while the TV began showing a feed of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas speaking from Ramallah.
Once she got outside, d’Aki saw the streets swell with people — women, children, and men on motorbikes or in cars — and makeshift stages quickly being assembled for the celebrations. Many of the celebrants wore headbands in green for Hamas, or yellow for Fatah. On Gaza City’s main street, d’Aki reports seeing fireworks and hearing singing, as well as celebratory gunshots fired into the air. “It was sweaty, crowded, crazy,” she writes. —Katie Zavadski