A PAINTER whose work features in the Windows Into Gaza exhibition, currently in the Galway Arts Festival as part of its Irish tour, has seen his home destroyed in an Israeli bombing raid.
The attached photo shows Raed Issa standing beside part of the apartment block that was previously his home, and that of eight other households.
Claudia Saba, an Arabic-speaking member of Gaza Action Ireland who met Raed in Gaza last year, got him on the phone today as he picked through the rubble trying to retrieve his life and work. She relayed the following account:
‘He said he was back in the rubble trying to salvage whatever useful things he could find and that he wanted to do it now because at night “it’s a little more scary”. As I was speaking to him I heard a large explosion. He said that was an airstrike approximately a kilometre away.
‘No one in his family was hurt – they all evacuated beforehand. I asked him if they had received a “warning”. He said they’d received no phone call – but that the Israelis had called their neighbours and told them to evacuate “because the house next to theirs was about to be bombed”. So the neighbours informed Raed’s family and they quickly evacuated too. A few minutes later there was a “knock on the roof” rocket. Meanwhile a relative called them and said he’d been told (through another phone call I think) that Raed’s family should evacuate the women and children but not tell the men and let them die in the blast.
‘Shortly after the “knock on the roof” a major airstrike came and the building was destroyed.’
Issa’s powerful paintings were among those gathered by Irish artist Felim Egan for the Windows Into Gaza exhibition, which received extensive coverage in the national media when it opened in Dublin earlier this year.
Gaza Action Ireland coordinator Zoe Lawlor said: ‘It is horrible to think that there is nothing unusual about Raed’s story. It has been repeated hundreds of times across the tiny strip in recent days, as part of the savage collective punishment of the mostly refugee population in Gaza.
‘Still, because we know Raed and have enjoyed his beautiful work, it brings home the horror and the cynicism of the sadistic Israeli campaign in Gaza. International pressure must force Israel to end it immediately.’
The Windows Into Gaza exhibition is currently showing in the Galway City Museum at Spanish Parade as part of Galway International Arts Festival, until 27th July. It will be in Limerick, the Belltable Arts Centre from 29th September, for four weeks, as part of the Limerick City of Culture.
Gaza Action Ireland, which grew out of the Irish Ship to Gaza initiative, is a solidarity group that organises civil-society contacts between Ireland and Palestinians in the Gaza strip. It is responsible for the Windows Into Gaza art exhibition that is currently touring Ireland, and it is planning to bring a team of young footballers from Gaza to play here. In addition to artists and sports clubs, it has also forged links with fishermen, journalists, human-rights activists and providers of emergency services.