Fears are being expressed for the life and safety of Sohail Salem, an artist from Gaza, who was involved in the Galway 2020 project, Hope It Rains.
Sohail Salem and his family are enduring the bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli Air Force, which has seen the widespread destruction of homes, property, and media centres, and led to the deaths of civilians, including children.
The latest violence in Israel-Palestine, resulting from conflict between the Isreali government and military and Hamas, has left more than 200 Palestinians, including 61 children, dead, and more than 1,400 people wounded, and 10 Israelis dead, and more than 106 wounded.
Dr Ríonach Ní Néill, the Galway based creator/curator, who oversaw Hope it Rains for Galway 2020 is extremely worried about Sohail Salem and his family.
“For the past week, Sohail and his young family have been bombed relentlessly,” she said. “Every day I message him to see if they are still alive. Already, two of his art collective colleagues have lost family members. One day I didn't hear from him for about 30 hours, and I feared to see his and his children's names in the list of the dead.”
Mr Salem designed the Hope It Rains logo, and created the Plastic Bottle Currach, which was launched in Gaza, and there are plans to recreate it in Galway this summer. He also established the first contemporary art collective in Gaza, and he and his colleagues have provided art classes for children as respite from the terrible living conditions which have resulted from the Israeli blockade.
“Sohail has already contributed so much to Hope It Rains and I consider him a member of Galway's art community,” said Ms Ní Néill. “He is a dear friend.”