banksy's shop bethlehem IMG_3275

When blank concrete walls are constructed in socioeconomically deprived areas, graffiti is sure to be painted. Not long after the Israeli controlled, Palestinian territory, the West Bank, was imprisoned inside an eight-metre high wall, street art began appearing, most notably by British-artist, Banksy.

Banksy has painted in the occupied Palestinian territories more than once – recently even sneaking through tunnels into Gaza to paint a kitten playing with a ball.  among other works aimed at forcing us to smile through the understanding of the gross injustice which is happening now. The alternative being to succumb to a feeling of helplessness, similar to the woe being experienced by people in Paris, Beirut, Iraq, and Weston-super-Mare, at this moment, too. His Gaza interventions included an unusually earnest quote: “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful – we don’t remain neutral”.

Bethlehem was chosen for the Pictures on Walls, Santa’s Ghetto exhibition in 2007, which was usually made in Central London. The erection of the wall inspired a new location choice, with around twenty artists, including Peter Blake, Antony Micallef, Paul Insect, Ron English, and Faile, who joined Banksy to make work to sell at a pop-up exhibition held at Manger Square, as well as a series of giant paintings around the city and on the wall itself.

Eight years later, and with much of the art produced covered over by fresh work, and a couple of Banksys having been removed from private walls and sold off by local residents, ending up at auction managed by the reprehensible Keszler and Bankrobber galleries, the interventions made by Banksy and other artists have been ineffectual in making the situation improve. Israel tightens the noose on the region.

Below is a documentary of the works on the wall and around Bethlehem.

bansky bethlehem peace dove graffiti IMG_3097

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Illegal wall, illegal posters of famous Banksy graphics for sale in Bethlehem

banksy make hummus not walls bethlehem portrait

“This huge wall is blocking out the sun, but screw it, we’re wearing sunglasses anyway.”

cemetary bethlehem riot throw stones kids checkpoint IMG_3347

Local kids, frustrated and bored, throw stones at heavily armed Israeli soldiers sat inside a watchtower. Palestinian soldiers try to keep the peace.

blu bethlehem graffiti street art IMG_3297

Blu from Bologna in Italy

stop and search banksy bethlehem IMG_3000

Banksy Stop & Search, one of two identical walls made in Bethlehem. The other was removed by UK-based, Bankrobber Gallery and auctioned in the US

stop and search banksy bethlehem carving IMG_3175

Claire Astanas’ gift shop on the opposite side of the wall to Rachel’s Tomb, where handicrafts include wooden separation walls, and recreation of Banksy artworks

bansky's restaurant bethlehem IMG_3281

Falafel meal with a Coke and a smile at Banksy’s

wall bethlehem palestine graffiti

sam3 bethlehem IMG_3025

Sam3 from Spain

ayda refugee camp mural bethlehem

Mural painted at Ayda Refugee Camp

ayda refugee camp mural bethlehem

leila khaled IMG_3048

A locally painted mural of Leila Khaled, a Palestinian hero and martyr, and the poster-girl of the resistance movement. After being imprisoned for hijacking a domestic passenger plane, and later released in a prisoner swap, she is now involved in the politics of the moderate Palestinian National Council.

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“MAKE HUMMUS NOT WALLS” by Banksy, 2007.

how and nosm kando bethlehem street art IMG_3263

Kando’s store and gas station and a work by How and Nosm, based in New York. The artists were in Palestine teaching art to women and girls living in refugee camps. The Kando family made its money in selling the Dead Sea Scrolls which hang in the Israel Museum

made in korea IMG_3122

made in korea IMG_3116

made in korea IMG_3118 copy

Painted by an anonymous group of Korean artists

the wall steak house sign and sam3 IMG_3131

sam3 video screen bethlehemIMG_3126

The head of a camel, painted by Sam3 in 2007. An adjacent restaurant, formerly “Bahama’s Seafood Restaurant,” and then “Bahama’s Steak Restaurant,” and most recently, “The Wall Steak House,” has painted two large white squares – one a faded menu, the other a football projection screen – over the camel’s body. The group has also screwed in a sign under the chin of Sam3′s camel, making clear the demarcation in the cultural hierarchy in Palestinian society: football and food before art

banksy bethlehem flower thrower graffiti IMG_3217

Banksy’s Flower Thrower graces the side of a car wash at Shepards’ Field/Beit Sahour

terrrorism decreased IMG_3317

sam3 bethlehem IMG_3026

SAM3 bethlehem IMG_3018

leila khaled bethlehem IMG_3298

graffiti bethlehem separation wall

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Artwork by French artist, JR.

tears mother bethlehem graffiti street art

blu graffiti bethlehem

 Work by Italian artist, Blu

how and nosm graffiti bethlehem IMG_3075 copy

Work by New Yorkaise duo, How & Nosm

street art bethlehem separation wall

graffiti postcard clare's gift shop IMG_3180

 Clare’s Gift Shop

graffiti street art bethlehem

teins toi pret banksy sa saintete arrete bethlehem

rhino bethlehem IMG_3309

graffiti Bethlehem wall palestine

seth bethlehem IMG_3373

 Work by Parisian street artist, Seth.

graffiti Bethlehem wall

how nosm bethlehem graffiti IMG_3223

 How & Nosm

how and nosm bethlehem graffiti IMG_3345

 How & Nosm

how and nosm graffiti bethlehem IMG_3069

 How & Nosm

how and nosm street art detail bethlehem IMG_3224

 How & Nosm

how and nosm graffiti bethlehem IMG_3228

 How & Nosm

how and nosm street art bethlehem IMG_3227

How & Nosm

fuck bibi graffiti on JR inside out bethlehem IMG_3340

faile bethlehem graffiti street art IMG_3152

Faile from New York

dove and heart bethehem graffiti IMG_3190

conor harrington bethlehem street art IMG_3187

Irish artist, Conor Harrington

captain borderline bethlehem graffiti IMG_3294

captain borderline bethlehem graffiti IMG_3291

blu bethlehem graffiti street art IMG_3019

Sam3 (left) and EricailCane (main)

bethlehem graffiti statue of liberty

Bethlehem graffiti arabic


Photos taken in September 2013

About the Author

The Alternative Parisian – part street artist, part photojournalist, part chickpea.