Murals of giant eyes bear witness to the Palestinians of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (AP) — A group of artists has filled a Palestinian area of ​​East Jerusalem with paintings of wide-open eyes. The murals serve as a reminder that all eyes are on the Silwan neighborhood, a hotspot where Palestinians say Israeli forces and settlers are trying to drive them out of their homes.

The eye murals are so giant they make you feel like they are watching you wherever you walk in the neighborhood. Many are painted on the walls of dilapidated Palestinian homes alongside national symbols.

“The staring eyes tell people that we see them and that they should see us too,” says Jawad Siyam, director of the Madaa-Silwan Creative Center.

« We want to say we are here – we love our land and our home. »

Since 2015, the center has worked with American artists to create and maintain the murals. In total, they completed around 2,000 feet of graffiti and paintings.

The art project « I Witness Silwan » represents the eyes of Palestinian and international leaders and influencers. It also features symbols such as the goldfinch and the poppy, which Palestinians call their national flower.

Organizers say the art project aims to draw attention to the displacement Palestinians face in this neighborhood near Jerusalem’s Old City.

Israel occupied Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed the holy city as an undivided capital. The Palestinians claim the eastern part as the capital of their future state. Peace talks between the two sides broke down years ago.

Project Silwan says it aims to counter Israeli settler groups working to bolster the Jewish presence in predominantly Arab or Palestinian areas of the disputed holy city.

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem face Israeli arrests, searches, demolitions and threats of evictions. The Israeli rights group B’Tselem claims that Israel « enjoys sweeping powers without any accountability for its actions » in managing the lives of Palestinians in the region.

The Associated Press


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