Motaz has become Gaza’s voice since the beginning of the war on October 7, 2023, amassing 18.2 million followers on Instagram, as he documented Israel’s brutality to the world.
Prominent Palestinian photojournalist, Motaz Azaiza, evacuated from Gaza to Qatar on Tuesday following 108 days of extensive, detailed coverage of the Israeli genocide in the besieged enclave.
“This is the last time you will see me with this heavy, stinky [press] vest. I decided to evacuate today[…]Hopefully soon I’ll jump back and help to build Gaza again,” Azaiza said in the heart-wrenching clip shared on his social media, before revealing that he is heading to Qatar on his Instagram stories.
Azaiza, 24, who has become Gaza’s voice since the beginning of the war on October 7, 2023, announced his departure in an emotional video, where he bid his colleagues farewell.
Azaiza has relentlessly exposed to the world the true horrors on the ground in Gaza since the first moments of the genocidal war, where Israel killed at least 25,295 Palestinians and wounded 63,000 others.
The young Palestinian journalist became known for his courage as he visually documented some of the most unsettling scenes of injured Palestinians, corpses and the overall disturbing aftermath of Israel’s bombings.
He is also known for juggling his journalistic duties while taking care of Gaza’s victims, whether by transporting the wounded to hospitals or helping children reunite with their families.
Azaiza only had 25,000 Instagram followers before the war started and now has 18.2 million followers, according to social media analytics firm Social Blade.
“The Palestinian photojournalist became a global figure, a vehicle of resilience, and the embodiment of hope for the people of Gaza and for the rest of us around the world. His work personifies the power of digital activism, and his humanity is an important reminder that bravery appears in many forms,” GQ said at the time.
Israel’s ongoing targeting of journalists and their families, including Azaiza, has forced many to evacuate Gaza, with scores receiving almost daily threats of being targeted. Israel has killed at least 119 journalists since the beginning of the genocide in Gaza.
Palestinian journalist Plestia Alaqad had decided to leave Gaza in November last year and head to Australia.
In December, Azaiza said that “the phase of risking” his life to document the horrors in Gaza ended “and the phase of trying to survive has started.”
‘One of Gaza’s bravest souls’
Azaiza’s announcement over his departure from Gaza triggered a wave of solidarity and support across social media platforms, with people praising the Palestinian figure for his work.
“Without Motaz and his colleagues, the outside world would lack footage and understanding of the events in Gaza,” journalist Yashar Ali said on X.
One social media user echoed by underlining Azaiza’s impactful coverage, describing him as “the most important and influential figure in this genocide.”
“Without him, the world may not know what it knows now. He is documenting and exposing all of Israel’s atrocities. Motaz is a hero and must be protected at all costs,” the user added on X.
Another user on X described Azaiza as “one of many, many brave souls in Gaza.”
Sana Saeed, a senior producer at AJ+, noted that the young photojournalist “has been an incomparable documentarian of the genocide in Gaza.”
“His departure – which he must do to survive; to live – is going to have a massive impact on our global witnessing of Israeli/American crimes in Gaza. Israel has created such horrors in Gaza,” she said on X.
The news over Azaiza’s evacuation was also met with heartbreak over the cruel reality in Gaza that has continued for nearly four months.
“Seeing Motaz Azaiza sharing that he’s evacuating is heartbreaking. But he needs to leave. As one of the last voices of Palestine. A witness with lots of footage for the outside world. Footage to start the fight for justice,” one person said on X.