Anti-IDF film wins Jerusalem festival prize

A critic who watched the film said the soldiers’ interviews provided “disturbing testimonies” about IDF activity in Hebron.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

As the 37th annual Jerusalem Film Festival draws to a close and after some 45 films were screened online due to the coronavirus pandemic, the judging committee awarded prizes to the festival’s top films on Wednesday evening.

The winner of best documentary short film, Mission: Hebron, sparked controversy earlier this week due to its heavy-handed criticism of the IDF and clear left-wing agenda.

“In a studio setting, based on the duties defined in their military handbook, the six ex-soldiers describe their mission, both official and unofficial,” reads the film’s English summary.

“Official: protecting the Jewish community in Hebron. Unofficial: making the lives of Palestinian civilians impossible, using a range of sophisticated strategies.

“Footage documenting numerous appalling situations corroborates their compelling stories, from soldiers taking pot shots with rubber bullets and conducting humiliating searches of passersby to arresting 10-year-olds and turning entire households upside down….”

A critic from Israel’s Walla! News who watched the film said the soldiers’ interviews provided “disturbing testimonies” about IDF activity in Hebron.

“You’re just waiting for a chance to shoot,” said one soldier, implying that IDF soldiers are eager to engage in violent clashes with Arab residents of Hebron.

“At first I hated the fact that I fired rubber bullets at children,” says another former soldier. “And then after a while, we’d have fun like that – [encouraging each other] like ‘what a king, you hit [one].’”

After that testimony comes footage of a protester being shot, presumably with a rubber bullet. In the background, a soldier can be heard saying, “You hit him right in the ass, good job.”

The film does not appear to provide much context for the soldier’s actions, or question what circumstances led to soldiers needing to use force in specific situations.

The soldiers interviewed belong to the organization Breaking the Silence, Channel 20 News reports. According to NGO Monitor, the group is active in promoting war crimes charges against Israel.

Earlier this week, Channel 20 reached out to the various sponsors of the festival.

The Jerusalem Municipality told Channel 20, “The [film festival] is supported by the municipality according to [standards] and criteria, like 74 other cultural institutions in the city. The municipality does not interfere in artistic content and any questions can be directed to the director of the Cinematheque.”

Israel’s Ministry of Culture refused to comment on the matter.