The walls surrounding the Shifa hospital compound came to life today when students from Gaza’s Al Aqsa University evoked scenes of the Israeli war on Gaza last winter.
Some scenes were representative of the destruction, savagery and mass casualties during the Israeli massacre, the desecration and shocking incidents that occured throughout the Strip at the bands of Israeli soldiers.
Ambulances and emergency services were attacked during the massacre; 16 emergency workers were killed and 57 injured; 9 ambulances were completely destroyed, another 7 damaged; 15 hospitals and 43 clinics were destroyed.
Nesma’s mural morphed the periods during and after the massacre. “During the attacks people were terrified, exhausted, hungry, thirsty…hopeless, shattered. After the massacre, people began to live again, even if the re-building hasn’t happened.”
The woman looks forward, dignified, strong. “She represents strength, hope for the future. She brings children, life.”
The 22 year old, 3rd year arts student lives near Gaza’s harbour, an area inundated by daily gunboat shelling during the Israeli attacks. “We didn’t leave our house, though. There wasn’t anywhere to go, no where was safe,” she said.
“Palestinians want a break. We want to breathe, we want a new life with freedom. We are strong, but there are simply no possibilities now, with the siege, the war.”
Shifa hospital, Gaza’s main hospital, was the site of some of the most intense emergency medical care, in vast quantities. All of Gaza’s hospitals felt the crush of the siege on fuel and hospital machinery all the more during the Israeli attacks. The artists chose Shifa as a location for our murals because it is representative of the suffering, the individual tragedies that were occuring in homes, on streets, in ambulances and clinics throughout Gaza during 23 days of hell.
The mural of Mohammed Abu Hashish depicts a child with an empty water container, waiting for a re-fill, beside a row of empty gallon jugs. During the massacre, at least 800,000 Palestinians were cut off from water. Still 10,000 Palestinians lack access to water and 60% of the 1.5 million have only partial access. 90-95% of the water in Gaza is unfit for consumption. These grim stats are not isolated from the effects of nearly 4 years of siege on Gaza and the destruction of the water and sanitation networks during Israel’s massacre of Gaza.
“The tents represent Palestinians’ during the Nakba of 1948 and the Nakba of 2008-2009. There are still families living in tents because their homes were destroyed by Israeli bombing and explosives.”
6,300 homes were completley or partly destroyed during the massacre, with another 16,000 moderately damaged. The attacks-rendered homeless still number at least 20,000.
“Families are still living in the places where their houses were. Because they have no where else to go. But also because it’s their land.”
“It could be any woman in any part of Gaza,” said Iman, a 4th year arts student. “All of Gaza was destroyed.”