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New graffiti on Israeli separation wall denounces Trump obsession with barriers

Aug. 7, 2017 7:56 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 8, 2017 3:48 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel’s illegal separation wall has long been used as a canvas for artists to denounce the occupation, but one of the most recent additions in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem has caused more of a stir than usual.

Shortly after midnight on Thursday, a foreign man was seen perched on a ladder spray-painting a military tower embedded in the separation wall at the Rachel’s Tomb military base located adjacent to Bethlehem and Aida refugee camp.

Once finished, the mural revealed a large-scale portrait of US President Donald Trump embracing the watchtower.

Another similar mural elsewhere in the Bethlehem area showed Trump with a thought bubble reading "I am going to build you a brother."

A Ma'an reporter and photographer approached the man as he was putting the final touches on the graffiti and asked to take pictures, but the man covered his face and said he did not want to reveal his identity.

Asked why he had chosen to draw a mural of Trump on the wall, the man said: "Because Trump loves border walls and this is one that most people don't even know exists."

When the Ma’an reporter agreed to take photos of the man with his back to the camera as he drew another, much smaller graffiti, they saw the man sign with the words “Pins Banksy.”

Rumors have circulated for years over the identity of famous graffiti artist Banksy, who opened the “Walled Off Hotel” -- colloquially known as the Banksy hotel -- in Bethlehem earlier this year.

The controversial hotel has notably brought an influx of curious tourists to Bethlehem, many of whom have added their own, more or less talented, artistic contributions to the separation wall.

Whether the unidentified man was Banksy himself or simply a supporter of the Palestinian cause seeking to avoid retribution amid a broad Israeli crackdown on pro-Palestinian activism will likely remain a mystery.

The Trump graffiti, meanwhile, came on the same day as The Washington Post released a transcript of a phone conversation between the American head of state and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, in which he discussed his campaign promise to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Trump's proposal has come under fire for being racist, costly, and unrealistic, while Mexican officials have repeatedly stated that the country would not foot the bill for the project, despite Trump’s repeated boasts that Mexico would pay for the American wall.

“Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works,” Trump told Pena Nieto, using a nickname for the Israeli prime minister. “Israel has a wall and everyone said do not build a wall, walls do not work -- 99.9 percent of people trying to come across that wall cannot get across and more."

Tens of thousands of Palestinians cross illegally into Israel on a daily basis seeking employment due to crippling unemployment rates in the West Bank, casting serious doubts on Trump's claims of walls' effectiveness as a deterrent for people in desperate economical or geopolitical situations.
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