Nazeh Darwazeh had faith in the good of all people

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Nazeh Darwazeh was operating a photo and video studio in 1988 when I was looking for a cameraman who could film the Palestinian Intifada from inside. I introduced him to the world of broadcast television. Today I wish I didn’t. Nazeeh died on duty filming outside his Nablus home on Saturday.

In 1988, there were no Palestinian television stations and the only television we knew was broadcast by stations of nearby countries. The first Palestinian Intifada had captured the interest of the world, but all the camera people and producers were foreign, many even Israelis. Our project was simple: to professionally train Palestinians over a six-month period and allow them to film their own lives. The end product was then edited into a sixty minute documentary we called Palestinian Diaries.

Nazeeh lived in the casbah, the old city of Nablus, which seemed to be perpetually under curfew. He presented the view from windows and alleyways that no one else had ever dreamed of seeing. British television broadcast the film which has since become the most authentic reflection of the first Palestinian Intifada. MPI home video in Chicago, which is now selling the home video version, calls it “a unique project in which three young Palestinians, professionally trained and supplied with low-cost cameras, document their lives and the occurrences in their communities, vividly capturing the reality of existence under Israeli occupation”.

During the six months of the filming, Nazeeh got married. Today his wife is a widow.

When the Palestinian National Authority was established, Nazeeh was immediately offered a job as the Nablus cameraman for Palestine TV. He worked with them ever since and has also was worked with APTV.

Nazeeh, a soft-spoken man was at peace with himself and all around him. Living in the casbah didn’t turn him to an Israeli hater; he met many and had excellent relationship with them. After a few years of working as a professional television cameraman, he saved some money and bought an apartment outside the old city of Nablus, not far from Najah University.

He survived the Intifada, living in the Nablus casbah. He also survived numerous Israeli incursions into Nablus. But today, his life was cut short by a bullet from Israeli troops.

Billal Banaa, a photographer who was with Nazeeh, relates the following eyewitness testimony to Nazeeh’s last moments:

“When the clashes begun this morning, we went together to the area. We were five journalists. When we realised we were in danger, Nazeeh by himself decided to go to a safer area near the Nablus library. Nazeeh, who was wearing clearly marked press vests, also came up to one of the soldiers and told him in Arabic, English and Hebrew that he was a member of the press. The soldier didn’t object. When we saw that he was safe at the entrance of the Kalabna home, we joined him. Just before he was hit, Nazeeh was calling on to the other journalists to be careful. The bullet hit him in the head. It must have come from a sniper.”

Nazeeh, 42, is the seventh Palestinian journalist to die in this Intifada. He leaves behind a wife and four children. I shall miss him and his quiet manners, his faith in the good of all people and his ever present smile.

Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist from Jerusalem. He is the director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds University which owns and runs Al Quds Educational Television. In May 2001, Mr. Kuttab received the International Press Institute’s award as one of fifty press freedom heroes in the last fifty years.

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