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September 21, 2021

Painting a brighter future in Palestine

6 MINS

Ismail Matar is a Palestinian refugee and an artist — and the streets of Gaza City are his canvas.

Born and raised in the Khan Younis refugee camp, Ismail has lived his entire life in a war zone — but he strives to bring hope and joy to his community through his artwork.

In May 2021, the Israeli military carried out 11 days of airstrikes in Gaza, killing at least 260 Palestinians, 66 of whom were children. The attacks also destroyed countless homes and buildings, and much of Ismail’s street art became rubble.

For Ismail, rebuilding Gaza City, his home, means painting new images of hope and humanity in Palestine. Today, he helps children use art to channel their feelings and process their grief and trauma so that they can build a brighter future for themselves.

“We have dreams and ambitions,” he said. “We want to live with dignity.”

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