JERUSALEM – A group of artists has painted large, wide-open eyes in a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
The murals serve as a reminder that all eyes are on the Silwan neighborhood, where Palestinians claim Israeli forces and settlers are attempting to force them out of their homes.
The eye murals are so large that they give the impression that they are watching you wherever you go in the neighborhood.
Many are painted alongside national symbols on the walls of decaying Palestinian homes.
“The staring eyes say to people that we see them and they should see us too,” says 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 center has collaborated with US artists to create and maintain the murals.
They have created approximately 2,000 feet of graffiti and paintings in total.
The art project “I Witness Silwan” depicts the eyes of Palestinian and international leaders and influencers.
It also includes symbols like the goldfinch and the poppy, which Palestinians consider to be their national flower.
According to organizers, the art project aims to draw attention to the displacements that Palestinians face in this neighborhood near Jerusalem’s Old City.
During the 1967 Mideast war, Israel occupied Jerusalem and annexed it as its indivisible capital.
The Palestinians claim the eastern portion as the future capital of their state.
Peace talks between the two sides ceased years ago.
According to the project’s website, it seeks to counter Israeli settler groups that seek to increase Jewish presence in predominantly Arab or Palestinian areas of the contested holy city.
Residents of East Jerusalem face Israeli arrests, home raids, demolitions, and eviction threats.
According to the Israeli rights organization B’Tselem, Israel is “enjoying far-reaching powers with no accountability for their actions” in running the lives of Palestinians in the region.