Daily Israel Report

PA-Funded "Jenin, Jenin" Fabricated Footage

The director of Jenin, Jenin, the controversial film that accused the IDF of committing atrocities during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, has admitted the film was dishonest.
First Publish: 1/19/2005, 2:13 PM / Last Update: 1/18/2005, 6:35 PM

Muhammad Bakri, the film’s Israeli-Arab director, admitted in a deposition last week that he had falsified scenes and used information that was inaccurate. He further acknowledged that the film had been funded by Palestinian Authority leaders, according to a WorldNetDaily report.

Israel initiated its famous Operation Defensive Shield in the spring of 2002, following a massive wave of terrorism that left over 160 Israelis dead in two months, including 130 in March alone. The final straw was the Passover Seder massacre in a Netanya hotel, which ultimately killed 30. A large part of Israel's retaliatory campaign took part in the Jenin refugee camp, a hotbed of terrorist planning and operations.

"With Israel finally fighting back militarily," writes P. David Hornik, "the Palestinians launched a media counterattack. Most famously, PA spokesman Saeb Erekat announced to the world that Israeli forces had massacred 'over 500 civilians' in Jenin -- a figure later rounded down to the 52 Palestinians, most of them armed combatants, who were actually killed. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers also died in the fighting -- a direct result of the fact that Israel refrained from bombing or shelling targets in the camp for fear of harming civilians."

The United Nations later agreed, following in-depth investigations, that Israel had perpetrated no massacre in Jenin, and that the PA's claims were baseless.

Jenin, Jenin claims IDF troops killed a "large number" of Arab civilians, mutilated their bodies, randomly executed and bombed women, children and the mentally and physically disabled, and leveled most of the refugee camp, including a wing of the local hospital. The film does not show any footage of the claimed atrocities. It does use the cinematographic technique of showing footage of IDF soldiers while "eyewitness testimony" of IDF “war-crimes” is narrated.

IDF reserve soldiers depicted in Bakri’s documentary are now suing him for his false claims. In his deposition, Bakri did not try to make the case for the accuracy of his claims, but said he "believed" the witnesses and did not bother checking the information they provided. "I believed the things that I was told. Whatever I did not believe was not included in the film," said Bakri.

Asked about a scene implying Israeli troops ran over Arab civilians, Bakri admitted to constructing the footage himself as an "artistic choice." Asked if he believed that "during the operation in Jenin, the Israeli soldiers killed people indiscriminately," Bakri replied in the negative.

One of the most damning elements of the deposition was Bakri’s admission that his film, which was screened as a documentary around the world, was partly financed by former Palestinian Authority minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. Abed Rabbo is a co-signer of the Geneva Initiative, a purported blueprint for peace.

"The Road To Jenin," a film by French director Pierre Rehov, has already debunked many of Bakri's claims, and was cited in the lawsuit against Bakri. In Bakri’s movie, Jenin Hospital manager Dr. Mustafa Abu Gali claimed, "The whole of the west wing [of the hospital] was destroyed. Fighter planes launched their missiles every three minutes." Abu Gali was also interviewed by Rehov, and showed him the extent of the damage to the facility - a small hole on the outside of the building. Rehov's movie showed aerial images of the hospital on the last day of the Jenin operation, depicting all sections of the hospital standing normally.

Jenin, Jenin also shows an elderly Arab man, Ali Yousef, who claimed that IDF soldiers shot him in the hands and feet. Rehov's documentary, in which Yousef was also interviewed, revealed that Yousef was standing in a housing complex with Hamas terrorists when he was shot once in the hand. Israeli medics treated Yousef's wound, found a congenital heart problem and no foot injury. They even brought him to an Israeli hospital in Afula for treatment.

The five IDF reservists suing Bakri say their professional lives require constant contact with PA Arabs who may recognize their faces from Bakri's documentary and seek to attack them.

In November 2003, the Supreme Court allowed the film to be screened in Israel. A month later, it suspended the decision, but re-confirmed the original decision this past August.

Dr. David Zangen, who served in Jenin during the Operation Defensive Shield battles as an IDF regional brigade doctor, wrote in Maariv a year earlier a list of points he wished to raise regarding the movie:
"1. Dr. Abu Riali, director of the hospital in Jenin, claims in the film that the western wing of the hospital was shelled and destroyed and that the IDF knowingly hit the hospital's water and power supplies. There never was any such wing and in any case, no part of the hospital was either shelled or blown up. IDF soldiers took care not to enter its grounds even though we knew that it was serving as a refuge for several wanted fugitives...
"2. Another impressive part of the film is the interview with a male 75-year-old Jenin resident who mumbles and cries and tells how he was taken out of his bed in the middle of the night, shot in the hand, and after he failed to obey the soldiers' command to get up, was shot again in the foot. I met this very same old man... He had indeed been lightly injured in the hand and was suffering from a minor scratch on the foot, but certainly not as the result of a bullet. IDF soldiers transferred him to a secure station that had been set up to treat wounded and there he was treated by me, among others. One of the military doctors identified diagnosed a heart problem... We transferred him to Afula and he stayed there for three days in the internal medicine department for treatment of his heart problems...
"3. Another person who was interviewed spoke about a baby who suffered a chest wound from a bullet that entered through his chest and exited his body, creating a hole in his back. According to the film the baby died after IDF soldiers prevented his evacuation to hospital. A baby's body with this type of injury has never been found. Moreover, such an injury would have been fatal, and evacuation would not have saved his life. What is this baby's name? Where did his body disappear to?
"4. The same person interviewed also told how, using his finger, he opened the baby's airway in his neck after he was injured. Again, a complete lie. Such an action cannot be carried out with a finger. This witness adds that tanks ran over living people many times until they were completely crushed... ­ this never happened and is imaginary.
"5. The film mentions a mass gravesite that IDF soldiers dug for Palestinian dead. Every international organization that investigated the matter concur that there were 52 Palestinian dead in Jenin, and that all the bodies were returned to the Palestinians for burial...
"6. Israeli planes that supposedly bombed the city are mentioned in the film. There were no such planes. In order to prevent civilian casualties, only focused helicopter fire was used.
"7. ...The film systematically and repeatedly uses manipulative pictures of tanks taken in other locations, artificially placing them next to pictures of Palestinian children."