In the arid desert land of the Palestinian village of Bil'in near the West Bank city of Ramallah, a curious garden of used tear gas canisters stands out as a unique oasis. The plot consists of rows of plants potted in old tear gas canisters collected from clashes during Israeli soldiers during protests against the West Bank separation wall. According to the villagers, the one-of-a-kind garden conveys the message that life can spring from death, as new buds flourish in objects that were once used to injure and kill.
Besides its symbolic meaning, the garden also commemorates the loss of lives in the Palestinians' struggle for their land. Sabiha Abu Rahmeh, who waters the plants, mourns the death of her son Bassem, a protest leader who was killed by a tear gas grenade fired by Israeli forces in 2009. As the villagers honor Bassem and other victims, they also use the eclectic potted plants to mark the land that Palestine was able to reclaim two years ago after a drawn-out court battle to re-route Israel's separation barrier. Residents of Bil'in, who say that 60 percent of their farmland was cut off by the separation wall, engage in weekly protests against the construction of the barrier. The protests often end in violent crackdowns by Israeli forces, leading to the collection of more used tear gas canisters to add to the village's peaceful resistance and memorial garden.