‘I left my heart in Israel’ : Lewisham artist on the terror of the Hamas attack

Dor Even Chen at work Pic: Tal Kronkop

By Jordana Seal and Louisa Riley

When Lewisham artist Dor Even Chen returned home to Israel for his best friend’s wedding, he never anticipated that he would be waking up to the news of the biggest terror attack his country has ever faced. 

The Deptford-based artist has shared his story with EastLondonLines, discussing his traumatic visit home and the pain he feels after “leaving [his] heart in Israel”. 

Dor travelled to Israel on Thursday October 5, ready to celebrate the following day. 

“On Friday, there was a beautiful party. We were drunk and having drinks on the beach. We were dancing and talking. I stayed at my parent’s house near Tel Aviv and went home around four in the morning.”  

Two hours later he awoke to sirens and found his parents in their bomb shelter, but remembered: “that happens here, so I went back to bed. There was nothing on the news.” 

At 10am, he woke up again to find that the house was locked up: “I looked at the TV and saw Israeli villages with Hamas in them.”  

Recalling the days following the attack Dor said:  “The first two days Israel felt vulnerable; everyone was in shelters. You could see on TV people in real time asking the media to help them, they were whispering ‘they’re inside my house’. The army came into the villages ten hours later, but by then there was already a big explosion of terror. It was things that nobody should see, and it was something that I’d never seen before. Now its escalated into war and its only just begun.”  

Having returned home to Lewisham – he has lived in London for four years – he is consumed with worry about his parents and sister who remain in Israel, telling ELL: “My sister is a mum; she has a little baby. I think every mother at this time feels like they don’t know how to protect their family. Every family in Israel knows somebody who got killed.”  

Dor’s work as a videography, film and still photography artist has led him to document exhibitions in galleries both in Israel and London. For him, the response from his London community has been immense: “I have only felt love and people worrying. I’ve had messages from all over the world from people I haven’t spoken to in years. I feel so much love within my community here.” 

He emphasised “people might be laying low, but I don’t feel like I need to. I’m pro truth”.

Dor called for a ceasefire on both sides and to bring all the hostages in Gaza home. He wants to find a way towards peace and safety for all the people in the region.

In a final reflection, he said: “I’m grieving a lot, for the situation and all the people in region. It’s all about communities right now, people helping people”. 

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