“Natural and sympathetic-looking.” That’s what Israeli artist Eliasaf Myara was going for when a local council commissioned him to paint murals on year-old air-raid shelters along the Israel-Gaza border.
June 8 marks the first anniversary of the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, also known as “Operation Protective Edge,” which claimed the lives of 67 Israelis soldiers, 5 Israeli civilians, and more than 2,200 Palestinians. Hamas reportedly fired more than 5,000 rockets into Israeli territory (hence the shelters), while the Israeli air force carried out more than 6,000 airstrikes.
It’s not difficult to understand the desire to normalize, or perhaps beautify a war-torn landscape. These paintings call into consideration the daily lives of Israelis living within miles of one of the world’s most heavily fortified borders. But Eliasaf’s efforts might also be seen as an attempt to dull the “Protective Edge.”
He is, after all, painting over reminders of a bloody conflict in which the number of casualties was absurdly one-sided. And while the public art below is refreshing, it’s worth keeping in mind that Gazans today are dealing with a landscape comparably more disrupted, and perhaps in need of something “natural and sympathetic-looking” of their own.