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World renowned 'guerrilla graffitti artist' leaves his mark on the Holy Land
Mike Aivaz and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday December 4, 2007
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The anonymous British "guerrilla graffiti artist" known only as "Banksy" has left his mark on the towering concrete barrier that runs through the West Bank town of Bethlehem

Six subversive anti-war images -- including a dove wearing a flak jacket, a little girl in a pink dress patting down a soldier, and the silhouette of another soldier purusing the mirage-like image of a US dollar bill -- appeared unwitnessed on the barrier.

Banksy has many celebrity fans and his works have fetched hundreds of thousands of pounds, but his "identity remains one of the art world's most closely-guarded secrets." He told BBC in a rare phone interview that "Bethlehem has been a very holy site for centuries and centuries, and now they've built this massive concrete wall in the center of it. It's the world's largest blank canvas. My hope is that with a few cans of spray paint, we can turn it into the world's largest piece of art -- but more importantly, the most short-lived."

The project is part of an underground art initiative called Santa's Ghetto, which Banksy began in London six years ago, saying, "I felt the spirit of Christmas was being lost. It was becoming increasingly uncommercialized and more and more to do with religion so we decided to open our own shop and sell pointless stuff you didn't need."

Some local Bethlehem residents told BBC that the art accurately mirrors the absurdity of their own situation, while others simply expressed a hope that Banksy's graffiti and an accompanying exhibit that includes other underground artists will bring back the tourists. "If it is safe enough for a bunch of sissy artists, then it is safe enough for anyone," Banksy declared.

The following video is from BBC's BBC World, broadcast on December 03, 2007