The 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, also known as ‘Operation Protective Edge’ was a military operation launched by Israel on 8th July 2014 in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. One year since Israel launched the 50-day military operation inside Gaza, 9,000 homes are still piles of rubble and hundreds of thousands of families are still homeless. The war claimed 2,200 Palestinian lives and 73 Israeli lives. Despite the death and destruction, people of Gaza carry on. Perpetual war and forced displacement have transformed Palestinians into the largest and longest standing unresolved refugee case in the world today.
To raise the voice of Palestinian communities in the international sphere as well as provide a platform for youth to express themselves in their own communities, artists and activists came together with the youth to create ‘EYES OF GAZA’. EYES OF GAZA is a Street Art project created by aptART (Awareness & Prevention Through Art) combined with an art therapy component run by Kaynouna Arab Art Therapy in collaboration with Mercy Corps and Ajyal Association for Creativity and Development.
“They say that the eyes are the organs of asking. But after certain horrendous events, eyes tell stories that live in a place beyond words.” Greg Beals
Working with German artist/photographer AKUT (Falk Lehmann), from Herakut and Palestinian artist duo Anwar Yehya and Hazeh Mansour youth developed concepts to paint walls with messages of resilience, hope and humanity.
Overlaid across the messages AKUT painted eyes of youth who worked on the project. To tell the story of children and people living in Gaza Strip, one must go beyond the statistics to see the human cost of conflict and look at the hope and the strength that still exists in the eyes of Palestinians. The walls speak of strength, courage, forgiveness, hope and the desire for freedom. The project aims to generate awareness and promote discussions about life in Gaza with the hope that Palestine’s next generation can grow up with dignity and hope for a better future.
“Their eyes ask for acknowledgement as they tell the story of Gaza, a story that can only exist if you look for it. The people of Gaza see you. Can you see them?” aptART
Another beautiful project by aptART. If you would like to donate and help continue AptARTs work please donate here.
Photos courtesy of Falk Lehmann and Samantha Robison.
The project was implemented in association with MercyCorps,Kaynouna The Arab Art Therapy Center مركز كينونة للعلاج النفسي عن طريق الفن and @Ajyal Association for Creativity and Development. Thanks to Montana Cans (official) who always donate the paint.