War Toys

Gaza Strip


Gaza Strip, 2012

WAR-TOYS collaborations in the Gaza Strip were supported by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Work began in November 2012 amid escalating violence between Israel and Hamas. The fighting was all too common for boys at the Al-Fakhura Preparatory School inside the Jabaliya Refugee Camp. During an art-based interview, most shared personal accounts of the things they had seen and feared – death and destruction from airstrikes, fisherman fired upon, and family members killed. An interview with girls at the Asma Elementary School in Gaza City showed that their experiences were no different. In their drawn accounts, many incorporated mothers and babies alongside scenes of extreme violence and devastation. Others revealed the fear and anxiety that they felt on a daily basis. Brian experienced some of this as he traveled the territory to recreate the children’s accounts using locally found toys. The situation between Israel and Hamas continued to deteriorate with airstrikes and incursions being traded for outbound rocket and mortar attacks. Completing as much as he could, Brian left Gaza on the first day of what would become “Operation Pillar of Defense.” In the eight days that followed, approximately 1500 sites within Gaza were targeted by Israeli shells and aircraft, killing 133 and wounding 840. While in Jerusalem afterwards, Brian photographed a toy from Gaza at the Dome of the Rock. The location appeared in several drawings spawned from the question, "What do you hope for in the future."