Relaxed on deck chairs, popcorn in hand, a group of Israelis sit down for the evening to watch Israeli warplanes bomb Gaza. For our Observer who took the photo, the scene reveals a lack of empathy until then "never seen before".
The photo was taken by a Danish journalist - Allan Sørensen - in the Israeli town of Sdérot. The town is about two kilometres away from the Gaza strip: it often finds itself in the crosshairs of rockets fired from inside Gaza. Taken at night and slightly blurry, the snap gives an insight into the state of mind that currently prevails in the region.
In the photo, residents can be seen sitting on a hill watching intently as Israeli jets pound Gaza. In the front row, a young girl winks. Chairs have been pulled up especially for the occasion, in a scene that resembles more of a movie screening than the sidelines of a conflict.
This photo was retweeted 6,000 times. Most users reacted with indignation.
"Until then, I had never seen such a strong lack of empathy"
As a journalist, I was looking for an area from which I could get an overview of the Israeli air strikes on Gaza, in order to better understand what was going on. This evening, it was really intense and as I'd heard people speak about this hill, I went there. As I came closer, I was surprised to see that lots of cars were parked halfway up the hill. Once at the top, I noticed that there were already some 60 people sitting and standing. It was surprising to see them relaxed on their folding chairs. Some were smoking water pipes, others were snacking on popcorn as if it was an open-air cinema.
There were people aged between 60 and 70 but also young people. On the other hand, I didn't see any children. I think that's got something to do with the fact that the area isn't secure. A few days before a rocket hit the lower part of the hill which is in range."Similar reactions have been observed on the Palestinian side"
For me, this attitude wasn't to provoke anyone. The people there sincerely didn't think there was anything wrong with what they were doing. And that's exactly why I took this photo. It backs up exactly what I have been noticing for the last three weeks, since the kidnapping of the three Israelis and the death of the young Palestinian that followed. On both sides, there's a total lack of empathy that I've never seen before. How can one react in this way when children in Gaza are being killed by bombs? And to those who criticise me for only showing one side of the story in this photo, I would answer that similar reactions have been observed on the Palestinian side. Like, for example, those who celebrated the kidnapping of the three Israelis by holding up three fingers [the images had been posted on pro-Palestinian sites].