The National Library of Palestine received the first collection of rare historical photographs today belonging to the Japanese photographer Ryuichi Hirokawa who has documented Palestine since 1967.
The photographs were presented to the National Library at its headquarters in Ramallah as a gift from Hirokawa by Marwa Jabara Tibi, director of Zainab Productions, which has exclusive rights to the photographs.
Tibi explained that while working on making a series of documentaries she discovered several archives, which she decided to present to the National Library whose mission is to restore the Palestinian archives scattered all over the world.
The Minister of the Palestinian National Library, Issa Qaraqe, expressed gratitude for Hirokawa’s talent, which he stated supports the Palestinian people and their freedom.
He noted that the collection of images represent an important beginning of the actual work of the National Library, especially when former Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, who orchestrated the Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982,was tried in an international court in Japan and Hirokawa’s pictures were used as evidence against the Israeli occupiers.
“When I was in Sabra and Shatila, it was the most difficult time for me,” he has previously said. “There was an old man who kept asking me, ‘Why now you come? Why not before one month?’ … Then I understood that his son was killed one month before. He said, ‘If a journalist was there, the soldier couldn’t kill my son in front of a journalist.’”
Hirokawa, 78, told Wafa news agency, he was inspired by the Palestinian tragedy and pursued to become a photojournalist to document everything about Palestine. Documenting the Palestinian villages took him 30 years.
The Director-General of the National Archives, Fawaz Salameh, also stressed the importance of Hirokawa’s photographs pointing out that the National Library will begin to work out an agreement to obtain the rest of his collection as soon as possible.
The National Library of Palestine was established in 2017 after President Mahmoud Abbas decided to turn a presidential palace that was being built north of Ramallah into the library.