Banksy’s artwork from Bethlehem dividing wall appears in Tel Aviv gallery

Banksy’s artwork from Bethlehem dividing wall appears in Tel Aviv gallery

An artwork that British graffiti artist Banksy painted years ago on the partition wall in the West Bank has surfaced in a Tel Aviv gallery. It is unclear how the work, an image of a rat with a slingshot, ended up in the Israeli city. The Palestinian administration speaks of theft.

Several of his works can be found in the West Bank with critical references to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Therefore, moving the image with the rat to Tel Aviv is very sensitive.

Past military checkpoint
Banksy created the artwork in 2007. Later, the text R.I.P. Rat was sprayed over the image, after which unknown persons removed the two square meter piece of wall and took it to an unknown place. A restorer has removed the graffiti.

It is not yet clear how the piece of wall ended up in the Urban Gallery in Tel Aviv. The US news agency AP has spoken to the gallery owner, but he only says that he bought it from a Palestinian in Bethlehem. The work must have been transported with a special truck, because the piece of concrete weighs hundreds of kilos. And the transport must have passed at least one military checkpoint.

The gallery owner says he has met all legal requirements, but according to an international treaty, occupying powers must prevent cultural objects from being removed from occupied territories.

‘Illegal act’
“This is theft of property from the Palestinian people,” a spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism told AP. “These were paintings by an international artist for Bethlehem, for Palestine and for visitors to Bethlehem and Palestine. So transferring them, manipulating them and stealing them is definitely an illegal act.”

The Israeli gallery owner says he only wants to exhibit the work and not sell it. Banksy has not yet commented on his work’s new whereabouts. According to the gallery owner, Banksy should be happy that his political message can now be seen in Tel Aviv.

Little is known about Banksy himself, but he is believed to be from Bristol. He incorporates political messages in his art.

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