Banksy in Bethlehem

From the Times Online:

With Christmas around the corner and tourists staying away, Bethlehem has turned to an unlikely source to help to revive its suffering economy: graffiti.

The “guerrilla artist” Banksy has helped to transform the security barrier that surrounds the town with more than a dozen satirical images painted, plastered and sprayed on to the 8m-high (26ft) concrete. The work winds a trail to the heart of the city at Manger Square, where more than a dozen pieces are housed directly across from the Church of the Nativity.

Banksy’s work, in his trademark stencil style, takes ironic jabs at life in the West Bank. In one, a young girl in a pink dress searches a soldier for weapons. In another a dove carrying an olive branch is outfitted with a bullet-proof vest while a sniper aims at the bird’s chest.

The seasonal exhibition, entitled Santa’s Ghetto, began life six years ago as an “anarchic concept gallery” above an East End pub, and has become a London institution. By taking the idea to the West Bank, the artist hoped to shine a light on the plight of Bethlehem. Less than three weeks before Christmas, its shops remain boarded up. Since construction of the security barrier began in 2002 tourism has plummeted. Officials estimate that more than half of the city’s population does not have a job.

More pics here.