Rafah, a town at the bottommost tip of the Gaza Strip, is a squalid place. Raw concrete buildings front trash-strewn alleys. The narrow streets are crowded with young children and unemployed men. On the border with Egypt, swaths of Rafah have been bulldozed to rubble. Rafah is today and has always been a notorious flashpoint in this bitterest of conflicts.
Buried deep in the archives is one bloody incident in 1956 that left 111 Palestinians dead, shot by Israeli soldiers. Seemingly a footnote to a long history of killing, that day in Rafah--cold-blooded massacre or dreadful mistake--reveals the competing truths that have come to define an intractable war. In a quest to get to the heart of what happened, Joe Sacco immerses himself in daily life of Rafah and the neighboring town of Khan Younis, uncovering Gaza past and present. Spanning fifty years, moving fluidly between one war and the next, alive with the voices of fugitives and schoolchildren, widows and sheikhs, Footnotes in Gaza captures the essence of a tragedy.
As in Palestine and Safe Area Goražde, Sacco's unique visual journalism has rendered a contested landscape in brilliant, meticulous detail. Footnotes in Gaza, his most ambitious work to date, transforms a critical conflict of our age into an intimate and immediate experience.
Take a Look Inside Footnotes in Gaza
Armed with a list of names, three men--including the author (shown wearing glasses)--walk through the alleys of a refugee camp in Gaza to find relatives of the victims.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This latest book of his is his biggest and most ambitious. His first book, Palestine, came out around 15 years ago and was an astonishing look at the lives of Palestinian life in the occupied territories and back into the start of the first intifada, with flashbacks to 1948. He then spent some harrowing time in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, resulting in his books Safe Area Goradze and The Fixer, which are vividly raw look at the horrors of that conflict. In 2001, he returned to Gaza with fellow journalist Chris Hedges (War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning), looking into a reported massacre from the time of the 1956 war that he had seen mentioned in another Noam Chomsky's Fateful Triangle. A few lines in a U.N. Report from the era subsequently sparked his interest in another incident in Gaza, so he returned in 2003 to try and track down the truth of that incident and see what role, if any, it played in the collective memory of the town.
What results is a sprawling, complex, multifaceted work that demands attention and engagement from the reader.Read more ›
Amid the 1956 Suez crisis, Israeli soldiers killed a large number (the exact figure is, of course, disputed) of Palestinian refugees from Gaza's Khan Younis and Rafah camps. According to a UN report, 275 Palestinians died in a November Israeli operation in Khan Younis; around the same time, scores of men were shot in Rafah.
FOOTNOTES provides the historical context for these incidents mainly through interviews with Israeli historian Mordechai Bar-On--General Moshe Dayan's personal assistant during the Suez crisis--and an unnamed Palestinian fedayee who took part in raids against Israel. Illustrating the contents of these interviews, Sacco sets the scene: a cycle of fedayeen raids and Israeli retaliation; Egypt's arms deal with Soviet-satellite Czechoslovakia; Nasser's dramatic nationalization of the Suez Canal; and the tripartite collusion between Israel, France, and Britain to gain control of the Suez.
Though he painstakingly researches the official documentation of the Khan Younis and Rafah incidents, most of the book comes from oral history interviews conducted with survivors and witnesses. FOOTNOTES tells not only their stories, but the story of Sacco's experience of getting those narratives. Interspersed with the oral histories are scenes of daily life, particularly during Sacco's March 2003 visit to Gaza.Read more ›
Fighting began on October 29 and followed Egypt's decision in July to nationalize the Suez Canal, after the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam, which was in response to Egypt formally recognizing the People's Republic of China (during a period of mounting tensions between China and Taiwan).
In 389 chunky pages of drawings and text, Sacco - through blowing dust and debris off the hidden past, interviews and research on currently available documents - delves into the Israeli military incursions into Khan Younis and Rafah refugee camps in the Gaza Strip after routing the Egyptian army through merging the past with the present and by reaching out to a number of historical signposts. The disturbing facts and theories surrounding the beatings, shootings and collaborators when the Egyptian-ruled area was briefly occupied by Israeli forces are accentuated by Sacco's observations as he strides across the bridge of official pronouncements to the truth.
"Well, like most footnotes, they dropped to the bottom of history's pages, where they barely hang on," writes Sacco.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
an amazing book. drawings and text. vivid description of the hellhole that is GazaPublished 4 months ago by Esti Marpet
Havent read this yet in its entirety but it is pretty intense and so the graphic aspect of it makes the messages, story line, and facts more palpable and understandable. Read morePublished 9 months ago by chanel
This is a work of genius in which Sacco's brilliant drawing brings the reader into a place which is difficult and dangerous to penetrate but often in the news. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Barry A. Klinger
This book is full of anti Israel propaganda together with lies and hate. The author is out of mind by showing his bias and how good things are in Israel while palestinians are... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Alejandro Staroselski
Joe Sacco is a creative force in the world, putting himself deep into conflict situations (Bosnia, Palestine), doing extensive research, and then documenting his investigations in... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Osbert Ponder
I don't hate the book, I love it, but the seller sold me an advance reader's copy without saying so, and covered up the line that says "not for sale, advance reader's copy"... Read morePublished 18 months ago by dctphoto
In the spring of 2001 war-reportage comics pioneer Joe Sacco was in the Gaza Strip with journalist Chris Hedges working on an assignment for Harper's magazine. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Erin Britton
It's difficult to critique a book about such a contentious area, especially when the book is not meant to be an academic treatment of its subject. Read morePublished on April 11, 2013 by JOHN O'DONNELL