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Early this morning, Turkish riot police stormed Taksim Square, the center of recent anti-government protests in Istanbul, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at firework-hurling demonstrators, pushing many of the protesters who had occupied the square for more than a week into a nearby park. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today he had "no more tolerance" for the mass anti-government demonstrations that have engulfed the country and killed three protesters and one police officer. [40 photos]

A protester tries to remain standing as police use a water cannon during clashes at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 11, 2013. Hundreds of police in riot gear forced their way through barricades in the square early Tuesday, pushing many of the protesters who had occupied the square for more than a week into a nearby park. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)     

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Last week, seven Palestinian men sat for Pulitzer Prize-winning Israeli photographer Oded Balilty in a home in the West Bank village of Bilin. Against a black backdrop, one man posed with a taut slingshot, two small pebbles resting in the sling. Another stared defiantly through a gas mask. A third carried a tire.

Balilty is no stranger to his subject matter. Based in Tel Aviv as an Associated Press photographer for more than a decade, Balilty has photographed daily clashes as well as the longer-term friction between Israelis and Palestinians. In 2007, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his image documenting a lone Jewish settler challenging Israeli security officers in the settlement of Amona.

Although his subject matter is familiar, his portraits transcend the ongoing conflict.

Clad in checkered kaffiyehs, masks and flags, they carry with them the objects of protest used in resistance against Israeli soldiers. Their improvised arsenal of everyday objects echoes the ongoing conflict—a struggle temporarily put on hold while Balilty photographed the men.

“The clashes have been going for years and years and it’s become repetitive, all these clashes every weekend,” Balilty told TIME. “But, this time I said, ok, I want to do something a little bit different. How am I going to show the conflict in a different way?”

He arrived at the idea of shooting portraits, but consulted with his colleague, Nasser Shiyoukhi, the AP’s Palestinian photographer from the West Bank, for help with the access.

“I asked him if it’s even possible for me, as an Israeli,” he said.

Shiyoukhi helped Balilty get in touch with the organizer of the weekly street demonstrations, who gave his consent for the photos to be taken—even arranging for the portraits to be shot inside the organizer’s house in Bilin, a village in the West Bank.

“The Palestinians are definitely not like the Israelis—they are aware of the power of the media. And any exposure for them, in any way, is an opportunity to explain their situation and to talk about the conflict. They are very open minded—they cooperate for a specific reason,” explained Balilty.

Despite the serious nature of the shoot, the atmosphere inside the studio lacked the conflicted tension Balilty expected.

“It’s a very serious issue. But mainly for me, I was trying to focus on the person and to tell like the general story through a few individuals,” said Balilty.

“On the weekend, they are in those protests, but other than that, they are totally normal people—they live normal lives, they go to school, they work, they have families. But yet these guys are always standing on the front lines of the protest and some of them get injured, some of them get arrested, some of them get killed,” he said.

Looking back on the shoot, the photographer was surprised by the way the day turned out.

“At the end of the day, we became like friends. We spent the entire day together, sat together and smoked a cigarette together, and we [shared] some common jokes and it was a very cool day. I wish, you know…it was like that all the time and everywhere. The experience I had that day…for me was one of the best things.”

Oded Balilty is a photographer for the Associated Press based in Tel Aviv. LightBox featured his work earlier this year in The Art of Storytelling.

LightBox updated the story at 3pm Saturday with comments from Oded Balilty. 




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April 22 will mark Earth Day worldwide, an event now in its 42nd year and observed in 175 countries. The original grass-roots environmental action helped spur the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act in the United States. Gathered here are images of our planet's environment, efforts to utilize renewable alternative sources of energy, and the effects of different forms of pollution. -- Lane Turner and Leanne Burden Seidel (35 photos total)
A ladybug in flight spreads its wings as it flutters from grass blade to grass blade at Rooks Park in Walla Walla, Wash. on April 2, 2012. (Jeff Horner/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin/Associated Press)

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The release of two very different games in the last month, Asura's Wrath and Dear Esther, has sparked up one of gaming's evergreen topics: what is and what isn't a game? More than just a question of semantics, it's a pernicious and pervasive poser that can lead to all kinds of nastiness.

Take as an example the recent furore centred on Jennifer Hepler, a Bioware employee who made a remark in 2006 to the effect that games should cater to players who want to skip action sequences. Pretty reasonable, right? After all, L.A. Noire did it last year - letting players skip action sections they'd failed three times.

Hepler's comment was dug up and posted on reddit a few weeks ago, under the title 'This women [sic] is the cancer killing Bioware' and all sorts of horror followed - I'm not going to rake over the coals of that, but Kotaku's report is interesting both for the content and comments. Hepler's mistake was twofold: being a woman, and being right.

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My lens changes focus with agility and it locks most often on a dog running in and out of its view trying to capture a water jet aimed by riot police at hundreds of student protesters.

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ECONOMIC SUPERPOWERS ECONOMIC SUPERPOWERS: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao walked along a red carpet Tuesday outside the German in Berlin. The two leaders pledged to increase trade between their countries, the biggest economies of Europe and Asia. (Michael Kappeler/DPA/Zuma Press)

PRECAUTION PRECAUTION: A kiosk owner wore a gas mask on Tuesday while selling cigarettes during street clashes in Athens’s Syntagma Square. Workers staged a two-day strike against the near-bankrupt government, which is trying to push through austerity cuts. (Louisa Gouliamaki/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A RABBI’S MOURNERS A RABBI’S MOURNERS: Orthodox Jews attended the Tuesday funeral of Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, who died at the age of 97, in the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak. (Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A SHOW OF POWER A SHOW OF POWER: Zelzal ballistic missiles left behind a trail of smoke Tuesday after being launched by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard during the second day of its 10-day military exercises. (Mohammad Hasanzadeh/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

TRIBUTE TO A GODDESS TRIBUTE TO A GODDESS: An Indian artist sculpted clay idols of Durga, an Hindu goddess, on Tuesday in preparation for the Hindu festival Durga Puja. Durga Puja is a five-day celebration in which Hindus relive stories of the goddess’s exploits on Earth and her return to the land of the gods. (Dibyangshu Sarkar/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

CHAMPAGNE IN THE RAIN CHAMPAGNE IN THE RAIN: Spectators covered up with umbrellas and raincoats Tuesday when the rain stopped matches at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at the week-long Wimbledon tennis tournament. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press)

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