Palestinian artist Heba Zagout was killed with her two young children in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza on Friday, October 13, her sister confirmed on Facebook. The 39-year-old artist’s death was also reported by the Palestinian publication Arabs48.

Zagout studied fine art at Gaza’s Al-Aqsa University and was trained in graphic design. She amassed a large following on social media for her vibrant paintings of Palestinian landscapes and people, especially her depictions of scenes from Gaza and Jerusalem.

Palestinian artist Heba Zagout posted a 2020 painting of a woman holding a peace dove not long before her death from an Israeli airstrike. (screenshot by <i>Hyperallergic</i> via Instagram)

“I tried to express the negative feelings, emotions, and tensions that occur in Gaza,” she said about her work in an interview that was released approximately two weeks before her death. “I consider art a message that I deliver to the outside world through my expression of the Palestinian cause and Palestinian identity.”

Zagout worked as a public school teacher and was previously employed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

At least 2,865 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed since Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on October 7. These figures are expected to rise as Israel prepares for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

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Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.