Remembering Roshdi Sarraj’s powerful legacy

Helena CobbanBlog, culture, Gaza, Great March of Return, Palestine

We were very sorry to learn about the death, on October 22, of Roshdi Sarraj, a brilliant Gaza-Palestinian film-maker who did a number of projects for Just World Books and Just World Educational. Roshdi was killed by an Israeli air attack on October 22. Al-Jazeera, reported that he was killed in his family home in Tel Al-Hawa. The nine other family members there, who included his wife Shorouq and their one-year-old daughter Dania, all survived, but Roshdi succumbed to his wounds before he could be carried to the hospital.

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Roshdi started his career as a journalist around 2012. He had earlier worked as a photographer for UNRWA. In 2012, he co-founded the media company Ain Media along with his friend Yaser Murtaja. Yaser was killed by an Israeli sniper in 2018, while covering the courageous non-violent mass action the Gaza Palestinians mounted that year, the Great March of Return. (He was wearing his full, well-marked press gear.)

Two years ago, in 2021, Just World Ed commissioned Roshdi Sarraj and Ain Media to make three 5-minute short films as part of our project on food sovereignty challenges in Palestine and elsewhere, “Beyond Survival”. One of these featured a 52-year-old woman farmer called Intisar:

(You can enlarge this by clicking on the Youtube option once it starts playing.)

Roshdi’s charming film showed Intisar driving her mule cart to her farmland near Jabaliyya and doing some work there with her crops and her animals, while talking about her life and the challenges she has faced. Today, it is tough to imagine what might have happened to Intisar and her lands and animals during the past month of Israel’s assaults on Gaza, many of which have been concentrated in and around Jabaliyya.

The other two films in our 2021 series featured an organic farmer called Abdel-Munim Ahmed and an engineer in Gaza City’s Shukour tahina factory. I invite you to watch those two as well– or any of the many videos on Ain Media’s Youtube page, which give a wonderfully rich picture of the lives and culture that the Gaza Palestinians made for themselves even during those years of tight Israeli siege.

(Roshdi and Ain Media had also made three short films to help Just World Books launch Refaat Alareer’s searing 2013 anthology Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine. Youtube later, quite shamefully, took them down but we’re looking to see if we can find backup copies.)