Banksy goes undercover in Gaza – video

'On the internet, people only look at pictures of kittens', says Banksy as he highlights plight of Palestinians

LAST UPDATED AT 14:11 ON Thu 26 Feb 2015

Banksy has released a satirical short film intended to highlight the human cost of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The subversive street artist travelled to the region undercover and painted three new works of art on Gaza's crumbling walls.

Video captions of the mock travel advert include: "The locals like it so much they never leave (because they are not allowed to)" and "Nestled in an exclusive setting (surrounded by a wall on three sides with a line of gun boats on the other)".

The short video depicts the destruction caused by the 50-day conflict which left 2,000 Palestinians dead, including 539 children. 67 Israeli soldiers also lost their lives.

The artist's publicist, Jo Brooks, confirmed that the video footage and images are authentic.

This isn't the first time the artist has made a political statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2005, he travelled to the West Bank and left artwork on the 425-mile-long West Bank barrier, which separates Israel from the Palestinian territories and is considered illegal by the United Nations.

His latest works of art include children swinging from a surveillance tower, a grieving mother, and a kitten in pink bow playing with a ball of metal. 

"A local man came up and said 'Please - what does this mean?'," says Banksy.

"I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens."

The clip ends with the statement: "If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful — we don't remain neutral."

Who is Banksy: artist unmasked, but mystery persists

14 January

Street artist Banksy has made a name for himself with anti-capitalist, anti-establishment and anti-war works of graffiti. But to many he remains no more than a name: despite  rumours, theories and a convinving unmasking, doubt remains about his true identity.

The air of mystery has contributed to global interest in Banksy and his work, as has his willingness to travel. Works by Banksy have appeared in Mali and on the wall that divides Israel from the Palestinian territories, as well as in London and his supposed home town of Bristol.

Secret identity: who is Banksy?

There is no shortage of theories about Banksy's identity and, perhaps, no shortage of Banksys: Canadian artist Chris Healey has claimed that "Banksy" is really a collective of seven artists. However, he has not explained what led him to that conclusion, saying only that the information comes from a reliable source.

One of the few people to have interviewed Banksy, The Guardian's Simon Hattenstone, described him as looking "like a cross between Jimmy Nail and Mike Skinner of the Streets" when he met him back in 2003.

Five years later, the Mail on Sunday claimed to have unmasked him, saying that it had "uncovered compelling evidence suggesting that the artist is former public schoolboy Robin Gunningham". 

The image printed by the paper does bear a passing resemblance to Mike Skinner and Jimmy Nail

In October last year reports began to circulate that Banksy had been arrested in London, and exposed as Liverpool-born Paul Homer. However, it was soon confirmed that the report was incorrect: several details were demonstrably wrong and no such arrest had taken place.

It was then suggested by CityLab writer Kriston Capps that Banksy is really a woman.

"Compared to the highly visible work of Invader or Fairey or dozens of other high-profile street artists, Banksy's work is different," he writes. "Girls and women figure into Banksy's stenciled figures, for starters, something that isn't true of 99 per cent of street art." 

The Mail on Sunday's case is regarded by most observers as the strongest, but nevertheless many seem reluctant to accept it.

"Far from letting daylight in on Banksy's nocturnal magic," writes Andrew Anthony in The Observer, "the biographical revelation was almost wilfully forgotten. Both his fans and detractors appeared to prefer the hooded mystery man to the suburban manager's son."

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