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Motaz Hilal Azaiza was born 30 January 1999 and raised in Deir al-Balah Refugee Camp in Gaza. He is a Palestinian photojournalist from the Gaza Strip. He is known for covering the Israel–Hamas war, drawing a large social media following.

Motaz was never intent on fame growing up. He graduated from Al-Azhar University of Gaza in 2021 with a degree in English Language and Literature; the same university that has now been reduced to rubble by Israel’s current aggression.

The Palestinian photographer was one of thousands of graduates in Gaza who struggled to find inspiration after graduating, due to the high unemployment rate in Gaza.


Prior to the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, Azaiza’s online posts most focused on photographing daily life in his native Gaza Strip. Although he covered the 2014 Gaza War and the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis, his social media accounts did not gain much attention. There are few foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip due to Israel and Egypt denying them access to the territory, which has led to Azaiza becoming a key reporter on the ground in Gaza.

Prior to the Hamas-led attack on Israel on 7 October 2023, Azaiza’s profile on Instagram had approximately 25,000 followers. On 13 October, his Instagram account was restricted, but access was restored the following day.[8] His follower count had increased to one million by 17 October, nine million by October 30, 12.5 million by November 3, and 13 million by November 7. As of 27 December, Azaiza’s Instagram profile had 17.5 million followers, with the number reaching over 18 million by January 2024.

In November 2023, GQ Middle East named him as their Man of the Year, with editor Ahmad Ali Swaid stating that “he reminds us that no matter who we are or where we’re from, it’s us – ordinary people, men, and women – who have the power to enact that very change that we want to see.”

Azaiza’s photograph, “Seeing Her Through My Camera,” part of his extensive coverage of Gaza during the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, was listed among Time’s top 10 photos of 2023. In late October, following an Israeli airstrike, Azaiza used a low shutter speed on his camera to capture the moment, revealing a young girl trapped under rubble at the Al Nusairat refugee camp.

This technique allowed him to witness her in the darkness where the naked eye couldn’t confirm her condition before a Civil Defense rescue worker’s light illuminated her face. In January 2024, Azaiza appeared on Mehdi Hasan’s final show with MSNBC to discuss the dangers of reporting from Gaza under Israel’s bombardment. Later that month, after 108 days of reporting, Azaiza evacuated to Egypt and then Doha, Qatar.