I have loved painting, as well as the various colors and the art programs, since I was a young child. I made many attempts to paint different scenes on the walls of my house, especially in my bedroom.
My father decided to send me to study art in Jordan when he noticed my talent and love for painting, and I attended the Queen Alia University in Amman. I graduated with a Diploma in Art after two years 1994. But I still wanted to learn more about drawing and painting.
When I came to live with my husband in Hebron, in West Bank of Palestine, I was very surprised and terrified when I saw the area where I would live. I came from a country with peace, prosperity and stability, and when I arrived, I cried a lot. Since then, I have been through some pretty difficult times in my life.
But as a Palestinian, I decided to stand up in the face of all the difficulties that were presented to me, and to be satisfied with what God had given me. I painted to express what was inside me. So I painted Jerusalem, a map of Palestine, a pigeon holding an olive branch in its mouth and many more scenes and stories, and I hung them on the walls of my house. I did this for a while until one day we were visited by a delegation from France. They saw the area and all the suffering and they were impressed by my paintings. They asked me who painted them, and when I told them it was me, they decided to buy some from me to help me and my family. I thank them very much for their invaluable support and encouragement.
And that's how my art career started.
After that, the settlers poisoned our fruit trees, dumped garbage on our house and poured bottles of urine into our garden. They also cut down our grapes trees in an attempt to force us from our house.
I was impacted by all of this so I drew a canvas that tells the story of our trees being cut down by the settlers in 2005. For this artwork, I used the same oil pastels that I had kept since my studies at university in Jordan, because the Israeli closures and the continuous siege on our neighborhood made it impossible for me to buy any new painting tools.
After that, there was a military operation launched by Israel on the Gaza Strip in 2008 and the Palestinian people were dismayed by the Zionist entity. I heard about the murder of Huda Galila's family, who were relaxing whilst their children were playing on Gaza beach. The Israeli army killed them without any reason, and I painted this story and named it ‘Peace for Palestinians’.
I have painted the scenes of many other important times in my life and the history of my country. I have painted scenes about the Israeli occupation, their military barricade, their illegal settlements, the Palestinian heritage and the brutal practices of the Israeli soldiers. The occupation prevented my region's children from playing, while the Zionist settlers' children played freely and safely.
I also painted about the continuous inspection of our children's schoolbags while they were going to school. The Israeli army brought trained dogs that attacked the population to force them to leave the only school in our area. My husband, Hashim Al-Azzeh, continued exposing the crimes of the Israeli settlers, for example their racist graffiti with slogans such as ‘kill the Arabs and slaughter them’, as well as their Islamophobic Zionist paintings on the apartheid wall built by Israel on the Palestinian homes.
These acts were harshly criticized by the European countries, because Israel was saying that the Palestinians are criminals through their propaganda. But it confirmed to the Europeans visiting Palestine that the Zionist story is made of lies, and some European countries began to boycott Israeli goods.
After the occupation soldiers killed my husband, the Israeli settlers closed all the roads leading to my house. Many young Palestinians were murdered in cold blood in my area. Israeli forces also expelled the international people from my area for exposing their crimes against Palestinians.
To exist is to resist.
My existence and insistence to stay in these stricken areas is my motto.
I will continue resisting through my paintings.