Banksy painting made in West Bank resurfaces in Tel Aviv

i24NEWS

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A painting by the British graffiti artist Banksy that was mysteriously transferred from the West Bank is revealed in the Urban Gallery in Tel Aviv, Israel, on August 4, 2022.
AP Photo/Oded BaliltyA painting by the British graffiti artist Banksy that was mysteriously transferred from the West Bank is revealed in the Urban Gallery in Tel Aviv, Israel, on August 4, 2022.

'This is theft... These were paintings by an international artist for Bethlehem, for Palestine'

A long-lost painting by the British graffiti artist Banksy resurfaced in an art gallery in Israel’s coastal hub of Tel Aviv, an hour’s drive but a world away from the West Bank where it was originally sprayed.

The painting – which depicts a rat armed with a slingshot – originally appeared in the West Bank city of Bethlehem and is one of many Banksy works created around 2007 that were meant to protest Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territory. 

Now, it resides in the Urban Gallery in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Its relocation raises ethical questions about the removal of the artwork from the West Bank and the display of such politically-charged pieces in a radically different setting, according to AP News.

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“This is the story of David and Goliath,” said Koby Abergel, an Israeli art dealer who purchased the painting.

He told AP News that the gallery was simply displaying the work, leaving its interpretation up to the public.

Abergel said he acquired the 900-pound concrete slab from a Palestinian associate in Bethlehem, but stopped short of disclosing the associate’s name or how much he bought the painting for.

The graffiti artwork was spray-painted on a concrete block that was part of an abandoned Israeli army position in Bethlehem, next to a soaring concrete section of the barrier separating Israel and the West Bank.

Nowadays, it stands on a tiled floor, surrounded by other works of contemporary art.

“This is theft of the property of the Palestinian people,” said Jeries Qumsieh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Tourism Ministry, AP News reported.

“These were paintings by an international artist for Bethlehem, for Palestine, and for visitors to Bethlehem. So transferring them, manipulating them, and stealing them is definitely an illegal act.”

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