First-Hand Reports from Israel/Palestine
Children, Artists Paint Mural on
For almost nine months, Maisa, Assia, Ishak, Nidal, and Shaad have looked out their front door to see an 8-meter grey wall where their village used to be. On Sunday, the children worked with muralists from San Francisco’s Break the Silence Mural Project to transform their view into one of hope and freedom. Where dark concrete loomed, a yellow bird now soars from a lush green valley dotted with red flowers.
The family of Hani Aamer lives surrounded by the Segregation Wall in Mas’ha, Salfit District, West Bank, Palestine. Their house sits between the two main gates into the village, and they let themselves and others in and out through a gate which sends an alarm to the Israeli army every time it is opened. Although the Wall in Mas’ha is a fence, last November, the army erected a concrete wall, 24 feet high and 40 meters long, directly in front of the house. For months, the family was allowed no visitors at all, but recently, after their situation was publicized on Israeli television, the army commander said that they could have periodic visits from family members. However, all the family’s visitors must be approved by the army.
On Sunday, July 18, 2004, the two visiting muralists came to Mas’ha with members of the International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS) and friends from the neighboring village of Biddia bringing paints and designs to create a mural on the Wall. Soldiers at the gate stopped the activists and took their passports, saying they had to obtain permission for the visit. After about 20 minutes, the family was allowed to open the gate for their visitors and the art party began. Over 20 children and five adults helped to design and paint the mural, which took six hours to complete.
The Aamer house was the site of the last Mas’ha Peace Camp in August 2003. At that time, forty-five Israeli, international and Palestinian activists were arrested trying to block demolition of the Aamer’s animal shed for the sake of the Wall.
Today’s direct action went peacefully, however, as the army watched but decided not to interfere with the painting.
Susan, one of the visiting muralists, said she and IWPS organized the art party because “The Aamer children have been so traumatized by their imprisonment and the constant military presence in their home. I wanted to help them reclaim and transform their space.”
“When you come here to paint with the children like this, you make them feel that they can live,” Hani Aamer told her.
|Photographs by Dalit Baum|
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