Artists arrested, possibly deported under inconsistent Israeli anti-graffiti law

Simon Albaugh/BETHLEHEM/PNN/

Two Italian artists have been arrested along with a Palestinian next to the Israeli border wall for painting a mural of Ahed Tamimi, who has been released today.

The arrest was recorded and published by Eyes on Palestine, showing the three being taken outside of a vehicle and then walked around the corner of the wall after being handcuffed.

One of the artists have been identified as Agostino Chirwin from Italy. Known under the pseudonym Jorita Goch, his most famous murals show realistic depictions of activists around the world.

The arrest happened at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. Immediately before their arrest, the artist posted a plea for assistance to his Instagram page.

According to sources, the artists and palestinian were taken to a checkpoint near Bethlehem for an hour before being taken to Atarot for interrogation. Once there, the Italians denied any wrongdoing despite being shown extensive surveillance of two people painting the wall.

The artists were being surveilled since the beginning of the mural and may face deportation, according to one source.

Italian consular and embassy services were not immediately available for comment because of their weekend holiday.

The Italian artists and the Palestinian were charged based on a law declaring it illegal to paint on the Israeli separation wall. The Palestinian was arrested for allegedly helping the artists in their efforts to paint the wall.

However, the enforcement of the law has been more inconsistent for Israelis and internationals than it is for Palestinians and people with strong anti-Israel sentiments. This inconsistent enforcement may amount to apartheid law, the application of separate bodies of law for two different groups of people.

While in detention, the three were interrogated until around 10:00 a.m. today. The Palestinian was released at that time while the Italians are still being held.