Paul Hansen, a staff photographer for Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper, won the overall World Press Photo of the Year prize and the spot news category with a shot of two year old Suhaib Hijazi and her three-year old brother Muhammad being carried to a mosque in Gaza City for their burial.
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The toddlers were killed at their home by an Israeli missile strike. Their father also died in the attack.
The prize winners were announced on Friday at a ceremony in Amsterdam.
Santiago Lyon, the president of the 19-member jury, says the winning photo was particularly powerful.
“A successful image reaches you on at least one of three tiers and this one reached us on all three: our hearts, our heads, our stomachs. And it just caused a reaction among the jury members that led to us giving it this prize,” he explains.
French Jury member Veronique de Viguerie agrees the photo reached out to the viewer.
“I have the impression people [in the photo] are coming at us and asking us questions, like: why did you let it happen?”
The picture was chosen from 103,481 photos submitted by more than 5,600 photographers from 124 countries.
The second and third prizes in the spot news category went to photographs on the ongoing conflict in Syria.
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Italy’s Fabio Bucciarelli won second prize with a photo showing a Free Syrian Army fighter standing on a rooftop preparing to fire a rocket-propelled grenade, while American Javier Manzano’s third-prize winning photo shows rebel fighters in a dark room pierced by sunlight streaming in through bullet holes.
Both photographers’ works were used by the French news agency AFP.
“I am happy that I an many of the other photographers, including Javier Manzano, won prizes for their work in Syria and that people can see more images from there,” Bucciarelli told AFP.
World Press Photo, one of photojournalism’s most prestigious awards, issues prizes in nine categories from news to portraits and sports.
The organisers say the event aims to inspire understanding in the world through photography, and the Deputy Director, Maarten Koets, says this year’s winning picture shows just that.
“Pictures can really show you that it’s not the statistics or the numbers that matter, it’s the people that count,” he says.
Paul Hansen will be awarded a 10,000 euro cash prize and a camera during a ceremony in Amsterdam in April, when the World Press Photo exhibition opens to the public.