RAMALLAH, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Amid the seemingly endless clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the West Bank, the tear gas canisters tossed by Israelis were transformed into artworks by a 56-year-old Palestinian blacksmith.
Akram al-Wa'ra, from the Aida refugee camp in the West Bank, came up with the idea in 2014 when Israel and Gaza were engaged in a 51-day fierce war, during which the Israeli forces fired hundreds of canisters at locals.
"Back then, I was forced to close my workshop, my only source of income, to protect myself from the tear gas falling down on us," the father of six recalled.
The war incurred al-Wa'ra heavy losses. Yet, he decided to turn the memories of hatred -- used tear gas canisters by Israeli troops -- into artworks of beauty and life.
Al-Wa'ra attended dozens of online and face-to-face workshops to learn how to deal with canisters and clean them up to make them available for recycling.
So far, al-Wa'ra has produced around 10,000 pieces of artwork and accessories. Among his works, Hanzala, a prominent national symbol and personification of the Palestinian people, the map of Palestine, and the Palestinian key that symbolizes the Palestinian right of return to lost properties, are the best-selling ones.
Year by year, the workshop of al-Wa'ra became one of the most recommended shops for local and foreign tourists.
"Every day, hundreds of tourists visit my workshop," the man said as he flashed a smile. "I have succeeded to make a flashlight on our suffering under the Israeli occupation through my artworks."
The man believes that not only weapons can defend the Palestinian people and their rights, but so can art, especially to the international communities, most of which call for peace.
Al-Wa'ra hoped to expand his exhibitions to other countries to change the stereotype toward the Palestinian people.
He stressed that "we are looking forward to living in peace and building our independent state on our own lands as it is a basic right for our people who are forced to live in a torn-war territory for decades."
Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and has controlled or besieged them ever since, while the Palestinians seek to establish an independent state on these territories with East Jerusalem as the capital.