A Palestinian family reacts after Israeli bulldozers demolished their home in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Feb. 5, 2013. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Newly elected Israeli Knesset member Yair Lapid (l), leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to Naftali Bennett, head of the hard-line national religious party the Jewish Home, during a Feb. 5 reception in Jerusalem marking the opening of the 19th Knesset. (URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES)
Richard Curtiss at work in his Washington Report office. (STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY)
Then-Vice President Dick Cheney (l) and Likud chairman Benyamin Netanyahu, out of office at the time and serving as the official Israeli opposition leader, at a March 23, 2008 breakfast meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (r) shares candies with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim during a Feb. 11 visit to the rebels’ stronghold in Sultan Kudarat on the island of Mindanao. (KARLOS MANLUPIG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Emad Burnat views his five broken cameras in his documentary of the same name. (PHOTO COURTESY KINO LORBER)
Washington Report, July 2006, pages 71-72
“The Iron Wall”
DOCUMENTARY filmmaker Mohammed Alatar was in Washington, DC in May to promote his new documentary film, “The Iron Wall,” which tells the history of the Israeli policy of settlement growth in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. In the film, Alatar prefers to call the settlements “colonies.”
“The Iron Wall” shows in great detail how, following Israel’s 1967 occupation, settlements were strategically placed as part of a plan to maintain control of and eventually incorporate the vast majority of historic Palestine into present day Israel. “If you look, the larger settlements are purposely built near the major water sources in the occupied territories,” Alatar told the Washington Report. “Israel takes 62 percent of the water from the West Bank, and only uses 2 percent for agriculture. They don’t use all of it, they just make sure the rest doesn’t go to the Palestinians.”
The film goes on to further explain Israel’s plan to create facts on the ground in an attempt to grab as much land as possible, describing with particular care the route and arrangement of Israel’s so-called “security wall.”
Jeff Halper, coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and one of the many prominent political analysts interviewed in the film, makes it very clear that this wall has nothing to do with security. It is a tool to permanently secure more land from the Palestinians in the West Bank. The line between what was established as the State of Israel in 1948 and the area left of historic Palestine, which became known as the West Bank, is 195 miles, he points out. When completed, the wall will be nearly 420 miles long.
The film shows that the wall snakes around the West Bank not as a way to protect the average Israeli from terror attacks, but as a way to bring the majority of the Israeli settlements into what the Israel government hopes will be the Jewish state’s permanent borders. Currently 42 percent of the West Bank is occupied by Jewish settlements, along with their bypass highways and security zones.
In the wall’s path, Palestinians’ lives are destroyed, with many homes demolished, families separated from one another and their farm land, and olive trees—many thousands of years old—cut down in minutes. The documentary is very painful to watch, as the villagers are helpless to prevent their family’s trees from being eradicated.
The film also raises other issues, such as the plight of Jerusalem. More Jewish setters than Palestinians now live in Arab East Jerusalem. Alatar’s movie also documents the checkpoints in the occupied territories. Of the West Bank’s 605 checkpoints, only 26 have been placed on the pre-1967 border (the Green Line) between Israel and the West Bank. The majority of the checkpoints are in place to make the daily life of the average Palestinian trying to get from one place to another very difficult. In the town of Hebron alone, there are 181 checkpoints, 23 of them surrounding the old city.
Making the film was often a trial for Alatar. “It was very hard to put aside what you had seen the day before and then get up in the morning and do it all over again,” he explained. He did not make the documentary for fame or fortune, he added. Instead, Alatar said he hoped the film could be used as a vehicle to get the word out about the horrors that are taking place in a part of the world that not so long ago was seen as the future state of Palestine. Said Alatar emphatically, “A two state solution is over if something is not done now.”