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Israel-Gaza: Artists find hope amid Israeli bombing

Artists on social media have turned some of the most powerful scenes from the aftermath of Israeli air strikes in the besieged territory into images of resilience
Many people have shared illustrations online, depicting the devastation in Gaza and other cities (Screengrab/Social media)

The past month has been one of intense pressure for Palestinians, who have had to endure Israeli settler attempts at appropriating their property in occupied East Jerusalem, far-right mob attacks within Israel and in Israeli-occupied territories, as well as the bombardment of Gaza.

Israel’s bombardment of the besieged territory alone killed at least 248 Palestinians since 10 May, including 66 children, and left more than 91,000 Palestinians displaced. At least 1,948 people have also been wounded.

Artists on social media sought to rally support for Palestinians affected by the violence with the hope that greater public focus on the situation will force those in power to help stop the bombing.

Hashtags have  been a key tool in sharing messages. The hashtag ‘redforpalestine’ has been used tens of thousands of times in a bid to show solidarity with Palestinians and start conversations about the events.

In that context, digital art serves a number of functions, ranging from shedding light on the plight of Palestinians and commemorating the lives lost, as well as sending messages of resilience and the determination to keep going on.

In one illustration shared online, a woman, dressed in traditional Palestinian embroidered clothing, is seen rising from a damaged building. The illustration has been shared thousands of times online.

In another image, shared over 11,000 times, an artist depicts two young children, Nana and Ahmed, who appeared in a viral video expressing their joy after saving their pet goldfish from the rubble of their home in Gaza. 

“We saved it from the house...and we want to go back and save the birds,” the young children are heard saying in the video. 

For many, their determination to preserve life despite the ever-present threat to their own lives has come to symbolise the Palestinian determination to not let the Israeli attacks diminish their own humanity.

Following a high pressure few weeks for Palestinians, some of the other illustrations shared online tapped into this feeling of hope and determination in the face of hardship. 

In one image shared on Twitter, a family is shown celebrating amidst rubble and destroyed buildings. Those in the image gather around what appears to be a child's birthday cake with smiles on their faces.

Anguish

Israel's attacks on Gaza have had a devastating impact on the mental health of residents, particularly children. According to Islamic Relief, roughly 38 percent of young people in Gaza have considered suicide, and mental health services were scarce and underfunded even before the latest offensive, which saw 24 health facilities attacked, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

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Another source of inspiration for the digital art was 10-year-old Nadine Abdullatif, the subject of a viral Middle East Eye video, in which she vents her frustration at the Israeli military for destroying her home in a bombing attack.

“I’m only ten. I can’t even deal with this anymore, I just want to be a doctor or anything, to help my people, but I can’t. I’m just a kid,” she says. 

The video made headlines globally and was shared by dozens of public figures and influencers, as an example of the anguish Israel's bombing campaign had caused ordinary Palestinians.

Remembering victims

Artists also paid tribute to those who lost their lives during Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza. 

In the image below, a child who died in the Israeli bombing hugs his mother with a smile on his face. Just over a fifth of those who died in the campaign were children.

A number of rights organisations have condemned Israel for its use of air strikes on civilian and humanitarian infrastructure in Gaza, particularly near hospitals, schools and offices. 

“There is a horrific pattern emerging of Israel launching air strikes in Gaza targeting residential buildings and family homes - in some cases entire families were buried beneath the rubble when the buildings they lived in collapsed,” Saleh Higazi of Amnesty International said in a statement.