A Gaza refugee camp dweller has fulfilled a modern version of beating swords into ploughshares by converting Israeli tank shells into flower vases, Agence France Presse reported Thursday.
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"I wanted to keep a souvenir, but my relatives and neighbors felt uncomfortable with them around, so I had the idea of painting them to make them beautiful," Hossam Al-Dabbu, of Jabalya, told AFP, about finding remnants from Israel's 50-day summer offensive against Gaza.
Al-Dabbu, 33, has also used his hands to use shell casings as golden motifs and tail fins for the feet of a vase, according to AFP.
“When my children grow up I’ll be able to show them these and tell them — here are remains of the 2014 war that left over 2,000 people dead, and this is how I transformed an instrument of death into a vessel of life, making these bombs into flower vases,” he said.
Al-Dabbu, who works in the honey business, said he was surprised to receive orders for his artwork, making sure to get permission from Hamas to secure his unusual material.
“As dozens of people were asking me to decorate shells, the police gave me as many as I wanted, provided of course I only used them for my art,” he said.
Al-Dabbu stressed he does not want people thinking he has a weapons factory lest "the Israelis bomb my house."
He does, however, have plans to continue selling his creations and put on a show.
“I like the idea of making something beautiful from these devices which kill us: I will take the vase home and regularly put roses in it,” said Khder Abu Nada, who bought one of the vases. “And may God bring us peace in Gaza.”
Al-Dabbus is not alone in his artistic endeavor.
Mohammed Al-Zamar, a resident of the Bureij refugee camp, has been painting shrapnel found in his garden, such as bullet casings and tank shells.
“No to war, we’ve had enough," he wrote on one of his pieces, next to a map of historical Palestine. "We love life, but the occupier [Israel] imposes death and destruction on us. I want to transform the Israeli war into an expression of the Palestinians’ irrepressible will to live.”