In the age of screens of all kinds, a dramatic series can convey what thousands of books cannot, and penetrate through the image into minds and hearts, transcending geographical borders to convey the reality of the siege and the valor of the resistance, which was evident in a number of dramatic works produced by the Palestinian resistance over the past years, and it was The most prominent of which is the series “Fist of the Free”, which is the series that recently returned to the forefront after many linked its scenes to the live scenes shown by news agencies on the seventh of last October during the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation.
The series was based on real events that actually occurred in 2018, when the Palestinian resistance was able to confront the infiltration of a special unit of the Israeli elite units known as the “Sayeret Matkal” unit into Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip. At that time, the resistance teams succeeded in penetrating the Israeli army’s surveillance and intelligence systems and confronting the Israeli squad, ending in an armed clash that resulted in the martyrdom of seven resistance soldiers and the killing of an Israeli officer. The series also documented multiple events from the Battle of “Saif al-Quds” in May 2021, which witnessed bombing operations inside the occupied territories, in addition to the occupation’s assassination of a number of military leaders of the resistance in the field of manufacturing and development during the bombing of a tunnel in Gaza City.
Controversy has recently been raised about the similarity of many scenes in the series to what happened in reality nearly a full year after it was shown, as in some of its scenes Israeli occupation tanks appear driven by resistance members in the streets of Gaza after they were able to capture occupation soldiers, as is mentioned in many Other details that actually occurred, including the details of the process of jamming and penetrating the occupation’s surveillance devices, and the resistance’s control of the Re’im and Kedumim camps, in addition to the occupation’s reaction and the United States’ absolute support for it. The launch of the series at the time was considered a very bold vision and close to imagination, especially in light of the popular propaganda about the power and control of the occupation army and its intelligence.
The political circumstances and the complex conditions of the siege of the Gaza Strip in particular have their own stamp on dramatic production. It cannot be contemplated with a critical eye in isolation from the conditions of the siege and its effects, which place many obstacles in front of every detail of the production of artistic work, which makes the process of artistic production face a continuous challenge in the face of a shortage. Possibilities. Let us take the series “Fist of the Free” as an example.
According to Muhammad Thuraya, head of the artistic production department of the Hamas movement, the total cost of producing the series did not exceed $300,000, which was reflected in the wages of the actors and creators of the series, as the salary of the series’ hero did not exceed $3,000 for 6 months of filming. In addition to the limited budget, there are no technically equipped studios or production cities in the Gaza Strip, which forced the series' makers to film in public places, or in equipped homes.
The behind-the-scenes scenes show how the scenes are filmed with hand-held cameras, how the overhead scenes (since there are no camera cranes) are captured by drone cameras or by a cameraman hoisted on the shoulders of his colleagues, and the hoaxes and explosions are filmed with very modest technical capabilities.
The lighting also relied on simple and primitive techniques, between street lamps in the outdoor night scenes, or natural sunlight in the daytime scenes, which is surprising given the final product and the quality of the overall visual image. Poor capabilities may have appeared in some of the action scenes, or in the selection of… Photography angles, but overall, the makers of the series made a tremendous effort to produce it at this professional level, in light of the Israeli occupation preventing the entry of graphic and editing equipment and devices or modern cameras into the besieged Gaza Strip for more than sixteen years. In terms of acting performance, most of the actors were able to give a good performance, characterized by honesty, even if it was characterized by exaggeration in some few scenes, which we can easily accept, especially since many of them are volunteers and amateurs.
In contrast to many Palestinian works that do not achieve the same momentum as some highly produced Arab works, which can be understood in the context of the limited production budget and the limited stardom of the heroes outside the borders of the local level, “Fist of the Free” in particular was able to achieve a relatively broader viewing base. When it is shown in Ramadan 2022, its rights will be provided for free to a number of channels in Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon and Turkey.
The fall of Palestine under the yoke of the Israeli occupation led to the delay in the emergence of Palestinian dramatic production on television, despite the early appearance of Palestinian radio series, which dates back to the mid-1930s. According to the Palestinian historian Nasri al-Jawzi al-Maqdisi in his book “The History of Palestinian Radio: Here is Jerusalem 1936-1948,” Palestinian Radio broadcast a number of soap operas until it stopped broadcasting with the Nakba in 1948, then moved to Jordan and resumed broadcasting in 1959 from Amman, then it appeared. Another attempt to broadcast from Cairo in 1964 under the name Radio Voice of Palestine.
On the other hand, the launch of official Palestinian television was delayed until the mid-1990s, when early dramatic works began to take shape in the wake of the Oslo Accords, and among the most prominent of these works was the series “Nights of Fishermen,” which was shown in 1996.
The drama of resistance in Gaza
In the Gaza Strip, the reality of dramatic production was different. Al-Aqsa Media Network, affiliated with the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas,” was founded in 2006, and its first cinematic work was the film “Imad Akl… The Legend of the Resistance,” directed by Majed Jundia, which was shown in 2009 and achieved great success. A huge local success.
After that, a group of dramatic works appeared based on the reality of life in the besieged Strip, focusing on resistance and the details of daily and social life, in addition to other works that deal with the resistance movement in the West Bank, the issue of prisoners, and other issues, and among the most prominent of them are the series: “Al-Fedayi,” “Heaven's Gate”, “Soul”, “Fire Ink”, “Open Account”.
But the series “Fist of the Free,” which was shown in Ramadan 2022, was characterized by a systematic change in its dramatic structure, due to its focus on the intelligence dimensions and field work.
Confronting false enemy narratives
The Palestinian resistance has realized the reality of art as soft power, and the role that drama plays in confronting the false narratives of the Israeli occupation and the successive attempts to falsify awareness, through the mouthpieces of propaganda, whether Israeli or international, which was evident in the Israeli series “Fauda”, which was shown on the “Netflix” platform. Over the course of five seasons, it presented a misleading narrative about the Palestinian issue, and other dramatic and cinematic works devoted to the occupation narrative.
Therefore, the need emerged for a national Palestinian narrative of resistance, to unveil the facts and present them in an image that mimics reality, and highlights the role of resistance, and its field and social reality as well. Drama appears in that context as another form of resistance. On the one hand, it is directed to the Palestinian viewer in order to incite… Morale, and resistance to Israeli propaganda that dampens that spirit. On the other hand, it is directed to the Arab viewer in an attempt to revive the issue and put it at the forefront, and to confront attempts to distort the image of the armed resistance.
It is not surprising, then, that the Israeli occupation forces pay attention to Palestinian artistic production and focus on its analysis, as they see in it a kind of what they call “incitement” to carry out resistance operations, which was evident in the analyzes of the Israeli newspapers that covered the series prior to its showing.
After the series was shown, and in his honor to the heroes and makers of the series, the head of Hamas’s political bureau in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Al-Sanwar, said that this series in particular has a great impact on the struggle of the Palestinian people, and he added that artistic work is inseparable and never separate from the preparation of the Qassam Brigades, their intelligence workshops, and their various fields of work. He also added that the series is “a tremendous effort and an important component of the liberation and return project.” This is a comment that we can see in a different light today, as what was seen at the time as an artistic fantasy has become an irrefutable fact despite all the costs that were made to achieve it.
- Palestinian Drama… History and Identity | space | Arab 48 (arab48.com)
- Did you succeed in approaching the Palestinian issue?!.. “The drama of resistance” between the space of the dramatic image and its real reality – Tishreen newspaper (news.sy)
- From “Westernization” to “I Am Jerusalem,” how did Arab drama deal with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? – BBC News Arabic