Israelis Scarred by Attacks and War Get Tattoos to Help Their Recovery

'It makes me feel like I got something that I chose to put on myself, unlike my injury, which I didn't choose to get'

Shai Mattabashi, who was involved in a suicide bombing attack in 2002 in Jerusalem, gets a tattoo done by American artist Jun Cha as part of the "Healing Ink " project.
Shai Mattabashi, who was involved in a suicide bombing attack in 2002 in Jerusalem, gets a tattoo done by American artist Jun Cha as part of the "Healing Ink " project. AMIR COHEN/REUTERS

A group of Israelis who were physically and mentally scarred in shootings, suicide bombings and military operations were given free tattoos this week by artists who hope body art can help their recovery.

The Healing Ink project brought artists from Israel, Europe and the United States to Jerusalem for the event, which took place at the city's Israel Museum.

Shiri Mirvis, 26, who was injured in 2003 from a suicide bombing attack on a Tel Aviv nightclub, gets a tattoo done by Wissam Razzouck, a Jerusalem artist, as part of the "Healing Ink " project.
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Muli Stein, who suffers from memories from his time as an ambulance driver at an Israeli military base, gets a tattoo done by American artist Jesse Smith as part of the "Healing Ink " project.
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The 11 people receiving tattoos on Monday included a military veteran injured by an anti-tank missile on a battlefield and a woman caught in a bomb at a Tel Aviv nightspot.

"It makes me feel like I got something that I chose to put on myself, unlike my injury, which I didn't choose to get," said Ben Baker Morag, who was injured while serving as a soldier with the Israeli army. "This gives me a very good feeling," he said of his tattoo, a lion on his left shoulder.

Shai Mattabashi, who was involved in a suicide bombing attack in 2002 in Jerusalem, hugs his wife before he gets a tattoo done by American artist Jun Cha as part of the "Healing Ink " project.
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Gabi Shoval, who lost his leg during military combat while serving as a soldier in the Israeli army, gets a tattoo done by Israeli artist Alexey Zamotevsky as part of the "Healing Ink " project.
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Israelis have in recent decades contended with a Palestinian uprising in the disputed territories, wars against Islamist guerrillas in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and occasional fire from Syria and an insurgency in the Egyptian Sinai.

Others being tattooed at the event chose designs of a medieval knight in armor, the Beatles lyric "all you need is love," and three monster heads eating each other.

For the artists involved, the experience of working with the injured is a meaningful one. "I am not a doctor, I cannot heal people," said Wassim Razzouk, a Palestinian tattoo artist from Jerusalem's Old City.

Ben Baker Morag, who was injured while serving as a soldier in the Israeli army, gets a tattoo done by Swedish artist Niki Norberg as part of the "Healing Ink " project.
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Tattoo ink and instruments are seen as tattoo artists work during the "Healing Ink " project at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem October 9, 2017.
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"But with my ink and with my art if that could help heal people, for me that is something so great."

Shai Mattabashi, who was involved in a suicide bombing attack in 2002 in Jerusalem, gets a tattoo done by American artist Jun Cha as part of the "Healing Ink " project at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
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Yotam Ness, injured while serving as a soldier in the Israeli army, gets a tattoo done by American artist Megan Jean Morris as part of the "Healing Ink " project, at the Israel Museum.
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Muli Stein, who suffers from memories from his time as an ambulance driver at an Israeli military base, shows his fresh tattoo done by American artist Jesse Smith as part of the "Healing Ink " project.
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Gabi Shoval, who lost his leg during military combat while serving as a soldier in the Israeli army, gets a tattoo done by Israeli artist Alexey Zamotevsky as part of the "Healing Ink " project.
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Revital Ben Yosef, who suffered from back injuries as a result of her service in the Israeli army, shows her fresh tattoo done by American artist Justin Wilson as part of the "Healing Ink " project.
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