Mural of Doaa Albaz in Mile End skate park, by artist Itaewon. Courtesy of Creative Debuts
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The journalists and doctors celebrated in the ‘Heroes of Palestine’ street murals

The Palestinian flags might be on the way out in Tower Hamlets, but all across our borough walls are painted red, white, black and green in a display of solidarity with the journalists in Gaza.

On your wanders around the East End, you may have stumbled across the colourful displays of street art paying homage to Palestinian journalists and doctors working on the ground in Gaza.

The organisation behind the murals is Creative Debuts, an arts platform that provides opportunities to emerging artists and champions equality and diversity in the industry.

In January, Creative Debuts launched its ‘Heroes of Palestine’ campaign, a London-based street mural project aiming to raise awareness about the journalists and medical professionals risking their lives in the Israel-Hamas war.

Each painting spotlights a specific individual, garbed in their bullet-proof press vest and blue helmet or ready for action in hospital scrubs. The figures stare resolutely ahead from the painted backdrop of the Palestinian flag, symbolising their devotion to the people of Gaza.

Creative Debuts, founded by Calum Hall twelve years ago, funds up-and-coming and marginalised artists across the globe through a programme of grants. It currently represents over 1,500 artists, including Ashton Attzs, Florence Given and Ken Nwadiogbu. In 2021, founder Hall was listed on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for his innovative contributions to arts and culture.

For Hall, 33, based in South East London, Creative Debut’s latest campaign offers ‘a symbol of our solidarity with the Palestinian people’ and is a way to ‘raise awareness for the humanitarian disaster happening before all our eyes in Gaza’. He said:

‘The campaign champions Palestinian civilians who are putting their lives on the line. Whether that be journalists or medical professionals, we have met these heroes during the most heartbreaking of times, they are inspirations and role models to us all. As the world watches, we demand our politicians do more to save lives.

‘Street art is the most widely consumed and accessible art form in the world and is the perfect vehicle for the campaign. Art is activism.’

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, announced on Wednesday 13 March that he would remove the Palestinian flags that have proliferated on council-owned infrastructure since the war began in October 2023.

The decision followed the threat of legal action by UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), who demanded the flags be taken down from places such as lamp posts. The group said it had received several complaints from Jewish residents who felt intimidated by the flags.

While the flags might be on the way out, Creative Debut’s ongoing campaign means the borough will continue to be populated with visual symbols of Palestinian solidarity.

On a brick wall near Allen Gardens, you’ll find a portrait of Hind Osama Al-Khoudary, the 29-year-old journalist documenting daily life in the Gaza Strip as Israel continues its military campaign, which began after the Hamas attack on October 7 2023.

By Hackney Wick Station, you’ll notice a mural dedicated to 22-year-old Plestia Alaqad, the aspiring journalist and poet who rose to prominence on social media after sharing videos of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. Together with her mother, sister and grandmother, she fled to Melbourne, Australia 45 days after the war began to ensure their safety.

Near Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick, passers-by will come across a mural dedicated to Dr Mohammed Harara, the 27-year-old who was one of the five last remaining physicians at the beleaguered Nasser Hospital in the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis. The hospital, which was once the largest functioning hospital in the Palestinian territory, was raided by Israeli forces on 15 February and is no longer running.

If you walk beneath the Shoreditch High Street Railway Bridge, you will spot the painted visage of Wael Al Dahdouh, a Palestinian journalist and the bureau chief of Al Jazeera in Gaza City. Since the Israel-Hamas war began, he has lost several family members, including his wife, three of his children, a grandchild and two of his nephews.

If you visit the skatepark of Mile End, you’ll see also street art dedicated to Doaa Albaz, the Palestinian photojournalist broadcasting the reality of the war every day to over 500,000 followers on Instagram.

Creative Debuts has launched a crowdfund to raise money to extend the campaign. It hopes to raise £4,000 to pay for six murals in London, raising awareness of the medical professionals working on the ground in Gaza.

Hind Khoudary mural in Allen Gardens, by artist Lucy Danielle. Courtesy of Creative Debuts
Hind Khoudary mural in Allen Gardens, by artist Lucy Danielle. Courtesy of Creative Debuts
Plestia Alaqad mural near Hackney Wick Station, by artist Ed Hicks. Courtesy of Creative Debuts
Plestia Alaqad mural near Hackney Wick Station, by artist Ed Hicks. Courtesy of Creative Debuts
Mural of Dr Mohammed Harara in Hackney Wick, by artists @watchingpaintdry247 and @core246wellesbien. Courtesy of Creative Debuts
Dr Mohammed Harara mural in Hackney Wick, by artists @watchingpaintdry247 and @core246wellesbien. Courtesy of Creative Debuts
Wael Al-Dahdouh mural on Shoreditch High Street, by artist @core246wellesbien. Courtesy of Creative Debuts
Wael Al-Dahdouh mural on Shoreditch High Street, by artist @core246wellesbien. Courtesy of Creative Debuts
'All Eyes on Rafah' mural in Hackney Wick, courtesy of the artist @watchingpaintdry247 and Creative Debuts
‘All Eyes on Rafah’ mural in Hackney Wick, by artist @watchingpaintdry247. Courtesy of Creative Debuts

If you enjoyed this piece, you might like our article about the new mural dedicated to Lotte, our East End Lioness, in Olga Primary School

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