14 Stunning Photos That Capture Tiny Moments Of Joy In A Region Plagued By Conflict

Much of the visual imagery that comes from east Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza is of conflict. Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting over the region on and off for decades as part of the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. But amid uncertainty and violence, people also go about their daily lives, enjoying simple pleasures like lunch with friends or yoga classes.

It's those small moments that Jordanian photographer Tanya Habjouqa set out to show in her project Occupied Pleasures. Habjouqa, who lives in east Jerusalem, photographed Palestinians experiencing the little joys of life, from playing cards to joining the Girl Scouts.

"Occupied Pleasures presents a nuanced, multidimensional portrayal of humanity’s ability to find pleasure in the face of trying circumstances in [the] occupied West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza," she writes in the description of her project. "[It] straddles passive and active meanings: to be occupied under Israel, and to occupy oneself, joyfully and defiantly, in pastime and simple pleasures."

Tanya Habjouqa is one of 29 female photographers featured in Represent: 29 Women We Admire, a photo exhibit presented by Refinery29 on display at this year's Photoville, which runs September 21 to 25. Ahead, Habjouqa shares her powerful images with Refinery29.

Editor's note: All captions were provided by
Habjouqa and have been edited for length and clarity.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
Hayat, left, teaches yoga to the residents of her village, Zatara, on the outskirts of Bethlehem in the West Bank. She says the number of women who attend increases each week.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
High school students enjoy a field trip on the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Gaza, where a 10-minute boat ride is the epitome of freedom. Gazans are not allowed to travel outside of the enclave due to the siege, including limiting fishermen and all boats to approximately six nautical miles off the coast.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
A young girl plays on the beach in the party dress she wore the night before to a wedding, at the Deir al-Balah refugee camp in Gaza.

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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
The Gaza Parkour and Free Running team practice in a cemetery on the outskirts of their refugee camp in Khan Younis, Gaza. The walls show damage from past Israeli incursions.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
Gazan body builders jovially strike poses after a workout.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
Youth play cards on a rooftop in the Dheisheh refugee camp. They say the camp is overcrowded and the roof provides a breeze and space to breathe.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
After grueling traffic at the Qalandia checkpoint, a young man enjoys a cigarette in his car as traffic finally clears on the last evening of Ramadan. He is bringing home a sheep for the upcoming Eid celebration.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
Young women, fully dressed in “jilbab,” exercise in a gym in Gaza. The women say they cover themselves at the gym because they have no privacy in the public sphere. They say they cannot afford private gyms, and they’re tired of being stuck at home.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
A toy-delivery van drives along the Gaza beach highway.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
Two furniture makers take a break in the open air on a pair of plush armchairs of their own creation in Hizma in the West Bank. A separation barrier built by the Israeli government extends behind them.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
The Palestinian Girl Scouts of Ramallah at band practice. Founded in 1912, the Girl Scouts are a long-respected Palestinian institution, and its charter “accepts all diversity of Palestinians, to promote values in creating a better world.”

The girls joked that they were on the cusp of making their own all-girl rock-'n'-roll band before Faiza (playing the cymbals) and her family left Gaza.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
A woman plays with two baby lion cubs born in the Rafah Zoo in Gaza. Gazan zookeepers are renowned for creativity when faced with limited options.
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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
A young boy attempts to bathe his reluctant donkey in the sea, directly beside his home on the outskirts of the Deir al-Balah refugee camp in Gaza.



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Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR.
In the West Bank, Ramallah nursing students take a lunch break.
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