A risky film project

לעברית לחץ כאן

Wadi Fukin near the Israeli border on a Saturday afternoon: Yousef, a Palestinian journalist is filming Palestinian workers, crossing to Israel without permits. Some hours later his family receive a call. Yousef was found on the ground not far from the area’s checkpoint but also not visible from there. He is seriously injured and unconscious.

Yousef is 24 years old. Amongst other films, he produced “Until when?”, a documentary in which inhabitants of the Palestinian village Nahalin talk about loss of land to Israeli settlements. Land confiscation is a common problem in the Westbank and it is widely reported by local media and sometimes even makes it into international news. What Yousef planned to film next, however, involves much more risk and goes almost uncovered by the media:

The footage on his camera was the basis of a documentary, which shows the hardship of Palestinians crossing the border without a permit on their way to work in Israel. Although they are risking jail sentences and in some cases even their lives, they very often have no other choice in order to support their families.

On that very day, Yousef was on his own, filming workers from a distance, when four armed men in khaki uniforms approached him. Without a warning or a chance to show his ID and his press card, he was knocked down and became unconscious. He himself does not remember what happened afterwards but his injuries indicate brutal violence. A witness, who saw how the young man was thrown out of a jeep, later called the family from Yousef’s own phone and led them to his almost lifeless body. His relatives managed to transport Yousef to hospital in time and the filmmaker survived with injuries in his head, feet and hands, broken front teeth and some severe cuts under his kneecaps, resulting from a sharp object. His equipment, two expensive cameras containing one third of very sensitive footage is lost, presumably taken by the four armed men.

The family suspects the Israeli forces to be responsible of the violent act. According to the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din “Israeli security forces in the West Bank frequently participate or stand idly by while violence against Palestinians is being committed”. That’s why the family not only hesitates but is in fact afraid of reporting the attack to the Israeli authorities. According to Yesh Din complaints made by Palestinians rarely lead to a conviction anyway.

We visited Yousef one week after the attack. He was lying on a couch, still not fully recovered. Bandage on his head, hands, feet and knees and too weak to describe the incident, which is reported to us by his family. However, amid his relatives, who voice their fear and concern but also their anger to us, he nonetheless, confirms to continue with his work as a journalist and to finish the film.

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