West Bank Exhibition Aims to Preserve Gaza Heritage

West Bank Exhibition Aims to Preserve Gaza Heritage

The museum situated in Birzeit, within the territories of the occupied West Bank, has organized an exhibition showcasing a variety of artworks and relics originating from the Gaza Strip. This initiative serves as an act of solidarity towards the Gaza region, which has been severely affected by the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas.

According to Ehab Bessaiso, the former Palestinian Minister of Culture and one of the museum’s administrators, the exhibition’s primary aim is to preserve Palestinian heritage that has been destroyed by the war in Gaza. Through this exhibition, the museum intends to salvage and present the remnants of Palestinian heritage that suffered immense damage during the conflict.

The war, initiated by the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, has resulted in irreversible cultural loss to Palestinian heritage.

The museum explained that the exhibition aspires to be an alternative space to the one that existed in Gaza before the fires of war destroyed it. The goal is to reconstruct and represent the cultural space that was lost amidst the devastation.

The exhibition features a range of artifacts, including contemporary artworks, traditional paintings, typical attire from the Gaza region, and archaeological objects, as informed by the former Palestinian minister.

Bessaiso added that the exhibition aims to portray Gaza’s art scene in a new way that could confront the challenges and difficulties faced by artists and culture in Gaza.

The exhibition has been made possible due to an outpouring of support. The museum received the work of hundreds of artists from Gaza, which were previously held by universities, cultural centers, and individuals in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Ministry of Culture reports that 24 cultural centers in the Gaza Strip have been either damaged or entirely destroyed by the war.

Notable casualties include the Al Qarara museum, which was surrounded by ancient Roman columns, an ancient Phoenician port, and the Rashad Shawa cultural center, housing a theater and a library.

The exhibition is a journey through Palestinian art from Gaza, particularly after the murder of dozens of artists, writers, poets, and journalists, declared Bessaiso.

This trip affirms the unity of the Palestinian people that the (Israeli) occupation tries to destroy, he further added.

A visitor in her 30s, Alma Abdulghani, expressed, It’s nice to see the work of Gaza artists here in the West Bank, especially since there is no longer a place to show it in Gaza after all the destruction.

Senseless war

The exhibition also narrates the destruction caused by the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Upon entering the main room of the exhibition, visitors are immediately immersed in the harsh reality of Gazans. The room is filled with rubble, the droning sounds of Israeli surveillance drones, and the wailing of ambulance sirens carrying wounded individuals.

The names of the 115 artists who contributed to the exhibition are engraved at the entrance. Some of these artists lost their lives during the war.

Mohamed al Huwajia, an artist from Rafah, a city at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, told AFP, The exhibition is a reminder of the solidarity between the West Bank and Gaza.

He confidently stated, Claims that we still exist.

In the exhibition, a series of paintings by Tayseer Barakat, a Gaza-born artist who has been residing in the West Bank since 1984, communicate his thoughts and reflections on the war.

One of his paintings reads, How to lose more than 7 thousand children? Raining bombs on each other and then preventing them from being pulled out of the rubble.

Another painting reads, How to lose a population of 2.5 million people? Cutting off communications, electricity, water, and life.

The series, as described by the painter to AFP, is a message and an expression towards what I saw and heard that our people in Gaza are experiencing in this senseless war.