Thirteen-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Quraiqe managed to keep smiling as Israel attacked Gaza this summer. Despite the pervasive fear, Muhammad focused on painting faces, bringing cheer to many children as he turned them into clowns. Muhammad lives in Shujaiya, a neighborhood of Gaza City that has become synonymous with a massacre caused by indiscriminate Israeli shelling in July this year.
To mark the climax of the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an iconic image from the newly digitized photo archives of the UN agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East was projected yesterday onto buildings in eight cities around the world, including the Organization’s iconic Headquarters complex in New York.
“Crowded classrooms and limited facilities do not dim this girl’s enthusiasm for learning, something shared by all her classmates at the UNRWA girls school, Qabr Essit camp, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic” — thus reads the official caption to a 1983 image of a young girl at a school for Palestinian refugees in Syria. This photograph now forms the centerpiece of the UN’s International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Haneen Ibrahim Nofal posted a striking image on the Internet while Israel was bombing her native Gaza in July. The drawing depicted a young woman wearing a kufiyyeh — the Palestinian checkered scarf — on her head and smiling proudly while touching a crown. The crown was in the shape of the Arabic word for “resistance,” muqawama. The timing was potent and, despite the horrors then befalling Gaza, offered some hope.
When I first came to Palestine, my impressions were dominated by the harsh reality of oppression, violence, and poverty. Then I fell in love with Palestine’s beauty, which was in a stark and surprising contrast to my initial perception. The beauty was in the landscape, seasons’ bounties, artisan work and the people who create them.
Four flower vases adorn the living room of Hossam al-Dabbus’s home. Initially inconspicuous, a closer look reveals they are made of Israeli tank shells collected by war-scarred Gazans. The refugee camp dweller has picked through the rubble of the coastal strip to turn the remains of a conflict, that killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians — of whom Israel says up to 1,000 were combatants — and 72 Israelis, into objects of art.
Israel’s bombing in Gaza this summer killed 2,131 Palestinians and destroyed or severely damaged 18,000 housing units, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA. Artists’ responses to war can give direct, personal testimony to historic events. Mohammed Al Hawajri, Raed Issa and Dina Matar, members of a group for contemporary art in the Gaza Strip called Eltiqa, reflect on life in time of war.
“Nothing replaces the loss of a son, not even another son.” Those are the haunting words of Safia Abo Zour, a Palestinian woman whose four-year-old died in a 2011 airstrike in Gaza. In a portrait by photojournalist Eman Mohammed, Zour has one hand wrapped around her five-month-old; in her other hand, she holds the sweater that her older son wore the last time he went to kindergarten.
Al-Mizan Center for Human Rights said on Tuesday that Israel deliberately targeted intellectual property during its recent onslaught on Gaza. A special report issued by the center said museums, old neighborhoods, educational facilities, historical and archeological sites and worship locations were bombarded by Israel, constituting a grave violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime punishable before international courts.