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Amira Hass

Amira Hass

Published: March 30, 2010
Amira Hass

Amira Hass

Israeli journalist who lives and reports from the Occupied Territories. Author of two books about the situation in Israel/Palestine.

Born in 1956 in Jerusalem, Amira Hass is the daughter of two survivors of the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Hass has described one memory that has been central to her — her mother telling of being marched from a cattle train to Bergen-Belsen.

"She and the other women had been ten days in the train from Yugoslavia," Hass says. "They were sick and some were dying. Then my mother saw these German women looking at the prisoners, just looking. This image became very formative in my upbringing, this despicable 'looking from the side.' It's as if I was there and saw it myself."

Hass attended Hebrew and Tel Aviv Universities. She began her work as a journalist in 1989 as a staff editor for Ha’aretz newspaper. In 1991, she began to report from the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Hass's reporting has been just the opposite of "looking from the side." She lived in Gaza from 1993 and Ramallah, in the West Bank, since 1997.

"In the end, my desire to live in Gaza stemmed neither from adventurism nor from insanity, but from that dread of being a bystander, from my need to understand, down to the last detail, a world that is, to the best of my political and historical comprehension, a profoundly Israeli creation," Hass says. "To me, Gaza embodies the entire saga of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it represents the central contradiction of the state of Israel — democracy for some, dispossession for others; it is our exposed nerve."

Despite restrictions from both Israeli military authorities and from the Palestinian National Authority, Hass wrote courageously and compassionately about the daily hardships faced by the Palestinian people living under occupation. Hass became the first and only Israeli journalist to live in and report from the Occupied Territories.

Her reporting has earned her many international awards, including the Press Freedom Hero award from the International Press Institute in 2000, the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Award in 2002, the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 2003, and the Anna Lindh Memorial Fund award in 2004.

In awarding her the World Press Freedom award, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said, "Amira Hass has been showing outstanding professional commitment and independence, as well as personal courage, over the past decade. If peace is to be established between Israelis and Palestinians it will be thanks to people like Ms. Hass who are able to look at the facts and understand them."

Hass is also the author of two books, Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege and Reporting from Ramallah: An Israeli Journalist in an Occupied Land.