Sacco makes a forgotten and bloody crime in a refugee camp from 1956 that left 111 Palestinians dead the basis for Footnotes in Gaza – a 400-page behemoth telling the history of Gaza from that moment to the present day. He immersed himself in the daily life of squalid Rafah, scene of the massacre and notorious place for bitter conflict, and tells the story through everyday Palestinians; fugitives, schoolchildren, widows and sheikhs.
“I heard torture stories that were unusually harsh, but I decided not to use those kinds of stories, and instead something less shocking, something more of an “everyman” experience. I think it’s the “everyman experience” that people can relate to. It’s harder to imagine; harder to put yourself in the picture of someone who is being humiliated.’
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Eyeless in Gaza
Colleagues laughed when a young journalist in Palestine announced his intention to tell the story of that region though cartoons. Twenty years later, Joe Sacco is one of the world’s leading exponents of the graphic novel form…
The American-Maltese artist’s latest book, “Footnotes in Gaza,” chronicles two episodes in 1956 in which a U.N. report filed Dec. 15, 1956 says a total of 386 civilians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers – events Sacco said have been “virtually airbrushed from history because they have been ignored by the mainstream media.”
Israeli historians dispute these figures.
“It’s a big exaggeration,” said Meir Pail, a leading Israeli military historian and leftist politician. “There was never a killing of such a degree. Nobody was murdered. I was there. I don’t know of any massacre.”
Sacco’s passion for the Palestinian cause has opened him up to accusations of bias.
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