“I Witness Silwan” project aims at drawing attention to the displacements the Palestinians face in Silwan neighbourhood near the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, organisers say.
A group of artists has filled an area of occupied East Jerusalem with paintings of large, wide-open eyes, with the murals a reminder that all eyes are on Palestine’s Silwan neighbourhood –– a flashpoint where Palestine says Israeli forces and illegal settlers are working to drive locals out of their homes.
The eye murals are so giant that they make you feel they are watching you wherever you walk in the neighbourhood. Many are painted on the walls of decaying Palestinian homes alongside national symbols.
“The staring eyes say to people that we see them and they should see us too,” said Jawad Siyam, director of Madaa-Silwan Creative Center.
“We want to say that we are here — we love our land and our home.”
Since 2015, the centre has worked with US artists to create murals and maintain them. In total, they have made about 2,000 feet of graffiti and paintings.
Murals also include George Floyd, a Black American killed by police in the United States.
Countering settlers with art
The “I Witness Silwan” art project depicts the eyes of Palestinian and international leaders and influencers. It also features symbols such as the goldfinch and poppy – Palestine’s national flower.
Organisers say the art project aims at drawing attention to the displacements the Palestinians face in this neighbourhood near the Old City of occupied Jerusalem.
The Silwan project says it aims to counter illegal Israeli settler groups that work to boost the Jewish presence in the Palestinian area.
Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem face Israeli arrests, home raids, demolitions, and the threat of expulsions.
Israeli rights group B’Tselem says Israel is “enjoying far-reaching powers with no accountability for their actions” in running the lives of Palestinians in the occupied area.
Israel occupied Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the holy city.
Israeli and Palestinian estimates indicate there are about 660,000 illegal settlers living in 145 settlements and 140 outposts in the occupied West Bank.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements in occupied territories are considered illegal.