As the world looks on with horror at the growing civilian toll in Gaza, and Hamas and Israel consider the terms of a U.S.-proposed ceasefire, one young Palestinian architect is responding to the crisis through art. Gaza-based Tawfik Gebreel aims to send a message, in the “universal humanitarian language understood by all peoples of the world.” He is using photos of the smoke thrown up by rocket strikes and reworking the images with symbols of hope and unity.

The 27-year-old hopes to raise awareness of and humanize the situation on the ground from the Palestinian perspective. He says he began working on the concept in order to reconcile his drawings with the reality he was seeing, through the analysis and transformation of the scenes of smoke from the explosions. By transforming the smoke into faces through his mark-making he wanted to show the humanity of hope, defiance and steadfastness in the face of daily bombardments.

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Despite the chaos that is surrounding him, Gebreel states: “I have the ambition that I do several exhibitions in several countries and publish my depictions of the suffering of the Palestinian people through graphic art and so the world knows the Strip.” The work is also cathartic for the architect and lecturer and a peaceful way of showing his resistance to the situation.

Images by Tawfik Gebreel