Sun, 04 Jun 2023

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"I am here to spotlight my family story and to tell the world that we are not numbers, we are humans, and we have rights that must be respected and protected from any violations," she said.

On May 10, 2021, Israel and Hamas, the ruling faction of Gaza, began a round of what was later described as their heaviest fighting since 2014, which lasted 11 days and killed more than 260 Palestinians and 14 Israelis.

The Israeli military offensive came after Hamas-led militants' barrage of rockets on Israeli major cities in response to Israeli provocations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem.

Many Gazan residents, including 22 members of al-Qoulaq's family, were killed in building collapses caused by Israeli airstrikes claiming to destroy underground tunnels used as militant hideouts.

Al-Qoulaq, her father and a brother had been trapped under the rubble for about 12 hours before being pulled out by rescue teams, and later found themselves the only survivors of the whole family.

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"No one can imagine the pain, fear, and horror I lived through under the rubble when I didn't know what would happen to my family," she said.

Failing to express her haunting agony in words, al-Qoulaq resorted to drawing, according to the artist.

"In the past, my daughter used to paint nature and other beautiful things, but because of the Israeli crime, she started painting tragic events that express how sad she is," al-Qoulaq's father Shukri told Xinhua.

"Hundreds of thousands of people have been subjected to the Israeli massacres, and we are working primarily to support these victims so that their voice can be heard to the world," said Maha Al-Husseini, an official at the Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

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Sami Shaqoura, an exhibition goer, expressed his solidarity with al-Qoulaq, saying "the paintings touch people and make the viewer feel sad for the tragedy that befell her family."

"We have to support the victims of the Israeli wars and encourage them to continue their lives despite the wounds they suffer," he added.

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