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Palestinian artists resort to art to show Gaza suffering
Yousef Al-Helou, Gaza City, April 22, 2009

Scenes of devastation and makeshift tents are a common sight in some areas across the besieged Gaza strip. In the rubble of destroyed buildings, a group of Palestinian artists held an exhibition to highlight the sufferings of people in the besieged Gaza. They want to resort to art to show the resilience of Gazans against all the odds and to appreciate their steadfastness.

Palestinian artists in the besieged Gaza say they use their art and talents to shed light on the suffering of the people as reconstruction has not begun yet because Israel refuses to allow in building materials.

"I decided to set up this exhibition on the ruins of my destroyed house to tell our Zionist enemies that you can kill us and destroy our property but that will never kill our souls. My art pieces displayed here are made from olive trees which the Israeli army uprooted during their recent offensive on the Gaza strip", Shireen Shameyyah, a Gazan artist said to me.

Ministry of culture in Hamas-ruled Gaza said that they support such exhibitions which aim at shedding light on the Palestinian struggle and their aspiration to freedom. They believe art is an effective tool to show what the war brought on these long suffering people and how different aspects of life have been disrupted by the long blockade.

"Our message to the world that Palestinians in Gaza will remain steadfast despite their suffering under Israel's pro-long occupation and siege, we will not give up our rights and aspiration for freedom in our land", Usama Al-Eisawi, Hamas-Minister of culture said while visiting the exhibition set up in the Northern Gaza strip camp of Jabalia.

Israel waged an all out war on Gaza on Dec 27th during which some 1400 Palestinians were killed, nearly 5500 were injured and close to 21,000 residential houses and public buildings were either partially or totally destroyed.

Art in Gaza interests young people and has different forms, some exhibitions are being held by cartoonists and photographers. Others such as rap singers and actors use the stage to sing and perform a play in front of the audience. this is one of the peaceful means Palestinians adopt in their struggle against the Israeli occupation and siege.

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Yousef Al-Helou is a freelance journalist based on Gaza City, you can reach him on ydamadan (at) hotmail.com