GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A young man from the Gaza Strip is producing handmade art using the remains of spent Israeli ordnance, in the process seeking to disprove popular misconceptions about Palestinians.
Muhammad al-Zumar searches the ruins of Gaza buildings that have been destroyed during Israeli military offensives, collecting the remains of missiles and other spent ammunition to use as raw material for handicrafts which he has assembled into an exhibition in his home.
"The idea of turning shells and missiles into works of art first crossed my mind when I saw Israeli children writing messages of death on missiles and shells" that were used "to kill innocent children," al-Zumar told Ma'an, referring to a series of images depicting Israeli children drawing on missiles in 2006 that caused worldwide outrage.
He only started his project after the Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2008-9, when around 1,400 Palestinians were killed and thousands more injured over the course of a three-week-long bombardment.
"After the war I started to collect shrapnel from shells and bombs, writing phrases on them calling for peace and love," al-Zumar explained.
In order to ensure that the materials he collects do not pose any danger, al-Zumar has been regularly consulting munitions experts from the Gaza government, who have also helped provide him with more objects to use in his work.
Al-Zumar highlighted that he has so far produced 30 works of art using the remains of explosives.
Asked about costs of his work, he said all he needed was the remains of explosives, which he receives for free, in addition to paints, which he buys.
Like 40 percent of Gazans, al-Zumar is unemployed and as a result he often has difficulties buying the paints he needs for his art.
Despite this, al-Zumar perseveres in his work.
Al-Zumar told Ma'an that he hopes that his simple home exhibition will one day attract international solidarity activists who visit Gaza, helping them "see the human side of the Gaza population."