Israeli victims of war and terrorism recently took part in an unusual rehabilitation event in Jerusalem led by the world’s best tattoo artists. New York-based Artists 4 Israel organized the Healing Ink happening in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to help the wounded Israelis cover up their scars.

“They have the scar that was forced upon them; they were harmed and every day they wake up and look at that scar and see themselves in the mirror, it’s an exact reminder, it brings them back like this, to what happened to them,” Artists 4 Israel Executive Director Craig Dershowitz told the Associated Press.

So, Artists 4 Israel invited leading tattoo artists to Israel to help victims of war and terrorism transform their pain into something beautiful.

Californian tattoo artist Steve Soto tattooed Nitza Bakal, the bereaved mother of Alon Bakal, who was murdered in a terror attack in Tel Aviv in January. She chose to have her son’s signature permanently inked on her arm.

Steve Soto
Steve Soto

Soto also inked Barak Miron, who chose an image of himself being hugged by his wife. He suffers from PTSD after being wounded in Hezbollah-Israel clashes and losing a friend to war.

Joe Capobianco
Joe Capobianco

Some of the international tattoo inkers drew inspiration from works at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Ink Masters’ Joe Capobianco came to Israel to tattoo Gabriel Bennahim, a lone soldier from France injured in Gaza. Instead of creating the skin art at a tattoo studio, Capobianco set up his tools next to the museum’s magnificent bronze statue of Hadrian dating from the Roman Empire in the second century CE.

Talley Matthew tattoos Maor David in front of Olafur Eliasson's “Whenever the Rainbow Appears” at the Israel Museum. Photo: courtesy
Talley Matthew tattoos Maor David in front of Olafur Eliasson’s “Whenever the Rainbow Appears” at the Israel Museum. Photo: courtesy

Capobianco also stopped by Razzouk Tattoo studio in the Old City of Jerusalem for a tattoo of his own by Wassim Razzouk. The Razzouk family has been doing tattoos for pilgrims to the Holy Land for over 700 years and owns what is considered the oldest tattoo parlor in the world.

Wassim Razzouk tattoos terror victim Kay Wilson in the Asian Art Wing at the Israel Museum. Photo: courtesy
Wassim Razzouk tattoos terror victim Kay Wilson in the Asian Art Wing at the Israel Museum. Photo: courtesy

Megan Wilson, one of today’s most influential female tattoo artists, who provides free tattoos to victims of domestic abuse, was also at the museum, tattooing Ira Benimovich, a mother of three whose right leg was amputated after she stepped on a mine near the Syrian border. That tattoo took place in front of Nathan Coley’s contemporary light installation, “Gathering of Strangers,” created in 2007.

Using the museum galleries as makeshift tattoo studios was done to help those suffering from trauma to transcend their physical suffering by covering their scars with meaningful body art.

Zero tattoos Dror Zicherman in front of Rene Magritte's “The Castle of the Pyrenees” at the Israel Museum. Photo: courtesy
Zero tattoos Dror Zicherman in front of Rene Magritte’s “The Castle of the Pyrenees” at the Israel Museum. Photo: courtesy

Museum Director James Snyder told AP: “If you look through time, body decoration was practiced in this part of the world and was practiced in many parts of the world, and always it was about healing and protection.”