Famous British street artist Banksy went undercover in Gaza and released a series of thought-provoking graffiti as well as a mini documentary.
Banksy also released a short two-minute documentary entitled “Make this the year YOU discover a new destination” on his website and YouTube page. In it, we see Banksy entering Gaza through one of the countless tunnels dug by Gazans across their borders with Egypt and Israel.
The documentary looks like a sarcastic version of a tourism ad as Banksy welcomes us to this city that's “well away from the tourist track”. He describes the people of Gaza as liking it so much they never leave, before adding between parentheses “because they're not allowed to”.
Banksy then went on to describe Gaza's neighbors as friendly, and then adding that over 18,000 homes were destroyed in Gaza during Israel's so-called ‘Operation Protective Edge’, as we previously covered on Global Voices. ‘Development opportunities are everywhere’, he tells us before adding “no cement has been allowed into Gaza since the bombing.”
Soon after, we see the first graffiti, entitled “Bomb Damage” and possibly inspired by Rodin's “The Thinker“. It was posted to his Instagram account and got over 12,000 likes at the time of writing. Rather than representing philosophy as The Thinker does, this figure seems to be sheltering herself from the devastation around her.
The second one, originally posted on streetartnews, transforms a symbol of Israel's occupation, a towering guard station, into an object of amusement for children. Guard stations are placed along the ‘Apartheid Wall’, one of the terms used for Israel's West Bank barrier, which will be approximately 700km (434 miles) upon completion.
The third one targets the Internet's love of cats. In it, we see a kitten playing with a ball of coiled metal rather than the usual cotton ball. Banksy was quoted in RT as saying: “A local man came up and said ‘Please – what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.”
We see Gazan children playing next to the kitten, and a father interviewed by Banksy tells us:
This cat tells the whole world that she is missing joy in her life. The cat found something to play with. What about our children? What about our children?
Finally, Banksy's message can be summarized by the quote he wrote on a wall in Gaza, which reads:
If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, we side with the powerful – we don't remain neutral.
This is not the first time that Banksy visits Palestine. The graffiti that he made on the Palestinian side of the West Bank barrier remains some of his most well-known ones. Here are a few of them.