Seeing Banksy Palestine pieces of street art may rank high on your list of things to do when visiting Israel and Palestine’s West Bank. But where are these artwork pieces, how do you get to them, and is it safe and ethical to visit this area?
This comprehensive guide will answer all of those questions.
The Banksy Palestine graffiti is a collection of thought-provoking street art pieces in Bethlehem and around the separation wall in the Palestinian West Bank. Several of the artist’s most famous pieces can be found here.
This includes the painting of a young girl frisking a soldier, a masked thug throwing flowers, and an armored white dove. (If you are interested in Bansky or other graffiti artists, you have probably seen photos of this graffiti before and perhaps hadn’t realized that these pieces were in Palestine!)
The elusive British artist, whose real identity is unknown, also owns an art hotel in Palestine’s west bank. His walled-off hotel (Caritas Street 182) claims to offer its guests ¨the worst hotel room view in the world¨.
Each room is uniquely designed with artwork by Banksy and other acclaimed international artists, and all proceeds go toward helping Palestinians. Banksy Palestine pieces started popping up around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 2005.
His pieces suggest that Banksy shares an affinity with the people of Palestine and their plights. They represent peace, freedom, and love, and are against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
There is a 425-mile-long, 25-foot-high separation wall that divides Israel and Palestine. Its existence has been condemned by the United Nations and other human rights groups.
In many ways, the Banksy Palestine graffiti has put the West Bank on the map for more travelers in the Middle East. But there are also those that consider his graffiti controversial and unwelcomed, turning the plight of Palestinians into a tourist attraction.
Sadly, some of the original Banksy pieces in the West Bank have been destroyed or removed since their creation.
Banksy Graffiti in the West Bank 2023
There are currently five pieces of Banksy artwork to be found in Palestine’s West Bank. In the past, there were more.
However, sadly, the others have been painted over. Perhaps more will pop up in the future.
Banksy has been back and forth to Palestine numerous times over the years after all, and he has spoken about how he felt safe in the country.
Below, you will also find the location coordinates for each piece. Your best bet is to take a bus from Jerusalem to the separation wall and walk from there.
From that point, all of the different pieces can be reached on foot. The coordinates are important as you may find yourself getting somewhat lost when walking around independently.
Palestinians are friendly and hospitable but not everybody speaks English and not everybody knows about each specific piece of artwork. So, if you ask for directions to a certain piece, you may be met with blank looks.
You can also hire a local cab driver to show you around. There are many of them congregated around the separation wall.
By all means, negotiate with them on the price. This is a nice way to support the locals.
Angels is the first Banksy Palestine piece you are likely to stumble across. It is also the newest addition.
The image depicts two angels fighting over a crowbar. It is easy to find.
From the walled-off hotel, turn and face the imposing wall behind you. Among all of the colorful paintings and stenciling that has been done by hotel guests, you will find the fighting cherubs.
Girl frisking a soldier
From the walled-off hotel, continue down the main road that leads away from the separation wall. The Girl Frisking a Soldier graffiti is tricky to find.
A shrewd local business owner has built a wall around it and now charges people for admission. To find the piece, you can use the coordinates 31°42’57.8″N+35°12’05.7″E in your Google Maps.
You will basically see a touristic-looking shop with a little shed-type outhouse building adjoined to it. Unfortunately, when I was in Bethlehem the store was closed.
Despite walking back and forth for a while and asking some locals, I realized that the piece was inside the store and the owner was nowhere to be found.
It’s kind of unfortunate that this has been claimed as someone’s own personal Banksy. From what I understand from other travelers, the proprietor charges people to look at the piece.
The Armored Dove
Leave the site of the girl frisking the soldier and the stomping ground of the sneaky shop owner. Then, continue down the same main road leading away from the separation wall.
When you arrive at the junction for Manger Road, you will see the beautiful painting of a White Dove visible from afar. It is splashed along the walls of the Palestinian Heritage Centre.
For your reference, the map coordinates of this place are 31°43’02.1″N+35°12’08.8″E.
The Angel Scattering Hearts &
The Masked Thug
The “Angel Scattering Hearts” is a piece that is under debate as to whether it is genuine Banksy graffiti or not. It is situated in close proximity to the “Masked Thug”.
The latter is probably one of Banksy’s most famous works. You have probably seen it on numerous postcards, t-shirts, and Banksy discussions and never realised it was in Palestine.
The Masked Thug throwing flowers is phenomenal. No matter how many times you’ve seen this photographed or splashed over websites and magazines, it doesn’t compare to seeing it in real life.
The piece extends over several stories and has been painted on the side of a gas station. The gas station owner was really excited and proud to have been chosen for this Banksy West Bank piece.
To get to both of these spots, you need to walk along Manger Stree. Walk past the old town until you approach the Ararat hotel.
The angel awaits at 31°42’16.9″N+35°12’52.5″E. From there, follow Beit Sahour westwards. You can use the coordinates 31°42’15.1″N 35°13’41.9″E to find the masked thug.
Angel Dropping Hearts Update: Unfortunately, Angel Dropping Hearts is no more. There was always some debate as to whether or not this was a true Banksy piece. As of summer 2019, this has been painted over.
Peace on Earth
The “Peace on Earth” painting which adds “terms and conditions apply” is one of Banksy’s most recent pieces in the area (along with Angel’s Fighting). It seems that the anonymous mystery man is in Palestine quite frequently for his Walled Off hotel and so new works are popping up again.
From the masked thug, backtrack and walk back towards Manger square. “Peace on Earth” cannot be missed and is located opposite the milk grotto.
Peace on Earth Update: According to a reader, in August 2019, a fight broke out over the painting. It was painted on a door that has now been removed from its hinges and is being held inside the Armenian Chapel of Kings in the Church of the Nativity.
It is not possible to enter this church. I will update this Banksy Palestine article if this changes.
Stop off at the Walled-Off Hotel
Banksy’s relatively newly opened walled-off hotel has made waves in putting Palestine’s West Bank on the radars of open-minded international travelers. Its tagline is that it boasts the “worst view in the world”.
The rooms here offer up the chance to stay and sleep within a work of art. Each of the rooms has unique, individual designs.
Their walls and furnishings have been lovingly created by some of the best artists in the world. Banksy, Dominique Petrin, and Sami Musa have all created thought-provoking murals.
Some of the rooms and suites here are quite pricey. However, hostel-style “barracks” are also an option for budget travelers and whichever room you choose is certainly worth it for the experience.
If you’re not a guest of the hotel, you can still check out the bar and lounge. Regular musical performances from local Palestinian Jazz musicians, art exhibits, and contests are often hosted here.
Check out rates and events at the walled-off hotel here.
Other street art along the separation wall
It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to actually see world-famous Banksy Palestine pieces up close and personal. One benefit of venturing to off-the-beaten-path Palestine is that you will find that you have the paintings entirely to yourself.
That said, the works of local Palestinian artists are equally worthy of your time. Not to mention, they do a great job of expressing the struggles faced by locals.
In order to see the best local street art, continue walking along next to the separation wall from the walled-off hotel. Murals show a desire for a peaceful unification between Israel and Palestine and boast hopeful slogans such as “Make hummus, not walls!”.
Look out for the huge controversial mural of Leila Khaled. She was a prominent national figure in Palestinian activism.
The murals and artwork pieces that you see on the walls here can be considered a form of peaceful, political expression. You can really see and feel the emotions and pain expressed in some of these pieces. So, you really ought to take the time to admire them while you are in Bethlehem.
Is it ethical to visit Banksy street art in Palestine?
Palestine remains an off-the-beaten-path travel destination. However, as more and more tourists travel to the West Bank to visit Jesus’ birthplace and admire Banksy street art, it raises the question: Is this ethical?
Many locals are unhappy with the presence of Banksy pieces. Some argue that as affluent western tourists wander around the separation wall snapping photos of graffiti, it makes light of the struggles that Palestinians face.
The “walled-off hotel” owned by the elusive artist himself, jokes about boasting the “worst view in the world”. That may be considered offensive to those that actually do have to wake up to that view every day.
The profits raised from Banksy’s hotel go towards aiding Palestinians. Whatever your specific view is, the construction of the site was well-intentioned.
By all means, explore the Banksy and political Palestinian graffiti that sits at the Israel-Palestine border. At the same time, be sure to take the time to explore more of the city and appreciate Palestinian food and culture.
West Bank Travel FAQs
Palestine is not exactly your typical tourist destination. I was really touched by my time here though and despite wandering around as a solo woman sweating and frantically trying to find Banksy Palestine pieces, the locals were really kind and friendly.
Try to spend a little longer in the West Bank if you are able to do so. To answer any questions you may have and for a little Palestinian travel inspiration, I have written this comprehensive Travel Guide to Palestine’s West Bank.
Did Banksy paint in Palestine?
Yes. It is a well-known fact that Banksy has visited Palestine numerous times over the past few decades to create street art pieces in both the West Bank and the Gaza strip. He has also auctioned numerous paintings to raise funds for the country.
What did Banksy do in Palestine?
Banksy has created several art pieces in Palestine that are among some of his most famous works. This includes the armored dove, a masked thug throwing flowers, and a piece depicting a young girl frisking a soldier.
Is it safe to visit Banksy street art in Palestine?
Traveling in the West Bank requires more assertiveness than traveling to a lot of places. The region is not unsafe in terms of hostility towards tourists.
However, there is always a small chance of getting caught up in a clash between Israeli and Palestinian forces. Unfortunately, the most common place that this occurs is at the separation wall.
Check your government travel advice and the local news consistently throughout your trip and prior to embarking on this spray-painted journey. If you see signs of a gathering, or local businesses start pulling down their shutters, head into a restaurant or hotel and wait.
It is not recommended to visit the Gaza strip at this time. (This is also Palestinian territory on the opposite side of Israel).
Trying to visit the Gaza strip not only puts you in danger, but it puts you at risk of deportation from Israel.
Other Banksy work in Palestine
Once upon a time, there were more Banksy pieces in Palestine than those that are contained within this list. Unfortunately, they were destroyed or painted over. The ones summarised in this article are all that remain.
Getting to the separation wall
It’s easy to get to Bethlehem and the separation wall from Jerusalem. You don’t need to hire a local guide or do a tour in order to see the city’s street art.
Furthermore, this part of the West Bank sees a lot of tourists so it’s perfectly safe. Even if you don’t plan on exploring Palestine on a wider scale, you can take a day trip to Bethlehem.
Take the bus to the West Bank
There are several buses that run into Bethlehem from Damascus gate in Jerusalem. A one-way ride costs only cost 7 shekels.
Crossing the border is an easy process for international tourists. You should get off the bus straight after the checkpoint.
This puts you in the best place for starting a self-guided Banksy Palestine street art tour. Otherwise, you could stay on the bus until it reaches its final stop in the centre of Bethlehem.
It is easy to know when you are arriving at the checkpoint (you will see armed Israeli guards board the bus to check people’s IDs.)
You can take the number 21,321 or 324 Arab buses from Jerusalem.
When the bus stops, you will see the “Walled off hotel” to your right.
Note that your passport will not be stamped on the entrance to Palestine. You have to enter Israel to get to Palestine and Palestinians do not have control of their own borders.
Getting a guide
It is understandable if you prefer to explore Bethlehem and its meaningful street art scene with the help of a guide. Not only can your guide point out all of the street art pieces, but they can also give you more context to what you are seeing.
A local guide will also give you a first-hand personal insight into what it is like growing up in Palestine, local perceptions of the conflict with Israel, and Palestinian culture and gastronomy.
To support the locals, consider hiring a Palestinian guide rather than a guide in Israel. You can find guides online via the Visit Palestine tourism board website.
Female guides are available if you are a female traveler and feel more comfortable exploring with a woman.
Final thoughts on Banksy Palestine artwork
Have any questions about Banksy West Bank pieces or travelling in the West Bank in general? Feel free to reach out to me!
Safe travels! Melissa xo