Israeli Illustrators Commemorate the Child Victims of the Gaza War

An Israeli art student mobilized other illustrators to memorialize the children - Israeli and Palestinian alike - who lost their lives to the violence, and to express their own pain through the tools they have

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An illustration by Danielle Peleg.
An illustration by Danielle Peleg.Credit: Danielle Peleg
Naama Riba
Naama Riba
Naama Riba
Naama Riba

Under the shadow of the clashes in Jerusalem, the operation in Gaza and the sirens in much of the country this month, Or Segal, a fourth-year visual communications student at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, decided to do something about it.

“I wanted to work in a way that’s quiet and strong, that wouldn’t inflame things even more,” she tells Haaretz. “I chose to do so through brotherhood, using the tools that I’m familiar with – illustration and design.”

An illustration by Or Segal.Credit: Or Segal

With the help of fellow students Yael Volovelsky and Noa Peled, she asked students, lecturers and longtime illustrators to produce an illustration in memory of a child who had been killed in the most recent hostilities between Israel and Gaza. Over 65 children were killed from both sides over the course of the fighting, the majority of them Palestinian.

An illustration by Zeev Engelmayer.Credit: Zeev Engelmayer

“Everyone felt deep-down that they wanted to help and do something,” Segal says. They posted the works of art on social media, and now the students are deciding what to do with them next.

“The project calls for solidarity and recognition of the pain the current situation is causing in Gaza and in Israel,” says Segal. “The situation can’t continue this way. The illustrations come from different places; some commemorate the child, some focus on the life he could have had, or on a better environment. Some are full of hope, and there are illustrations that grant the children a wish.”

An illustration by Sergey Isakov.Credit: Sergey Isakov

For example, Amit Trainin, an illustrator with a long history of teaching the visual arts, dedicated his illustration to Zaid Mohammed Talbani, who was killed two weeks ago in Gaza by Israeli fire. He was four years old. His sister Miriam was also killed in the strike, and his mother is still listed as missing. It’s a childlike picture, made up of simple and colorful lines; in the center is an elephant with a boy laying on it.

An illustration by Amit Trainin.Credit: Amit Trainin

“I wanted to make an optimistic illustration,” Trainin says. “His death, as well as the way he was killed, is a violent and political issue that to me is irrelevant to the style. He’s a child, and he didn’t experience much nature or freedom during his childhood.

“As an illustrator, I chose to give him what I would have wished for him if he’d lived. As if this could be his last memory – not bombing and destruction, but the exact opposite – freedom, nature. And I chose an elephant because it’s an animal of peace.”

An illustration by Gilad Seliktar.Credit: Gilad Seliktar

Illustrator Itzik Rennert, who leads Bezalel’s Master’s in Design program, said that he couldn’t choose just one child. “That was too macabre for me,” he says, so he drew a silhouette of a “collective child” in dark hues on a blue background.

Illustrator and comic book artist Hila Noam produced a digital illustration, in shades of red and yellow, featuring two unspecified children. They each carry a building on their back, from which each side is shooting at the other. As the endless violence continues, both children cry.

An illustration by Hila Noam.Credit: Hila Noam
An illustration by Opal Kodovitzky.Credit: Opal Kodovitzky
An illustration by Noa Peled. The text reads in Hebrew and Arabic: 'Both here and there.'Credit: Noa Peled
An illustration by Inbar Heller Algazi.Credit: Inbar Heller Algazi
An illustration by Yael Volovelsky. Credit: Yael Volovelsky

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