Emotions stir in Jerusalem as HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ hits local airwaves

The mother of the murdered Mohammed Abu Khdeir watches the show. (Reuters)
Updated 20 August 2019

Emotions stir in Jerusalem as HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ hits local airwaves

  • The deaths of the four youths spiraled into a seven-week war between Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza

JERUSALEM: A new HBO series on the killing of a Palestinian youth after three Israeli teens were murdered in a deadly summer five years ago is stirring up painful memories for bereaved families on both sides of the conflict.

“Our Boys,” which premiered in Israel and the US last week, centers on Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was abducted near his East Jerusalem home and burned to death by three Israelis, two of them also teenagers, in July 2014.

“I wish I could reach into the screen and grab hold of my son,” Abu Khdeir’s mother, Suha, told Reuters, her voice breaking, soon after watching the first two episodes of the series, a co-production of HBO and Israel’s Keshet International and produced by Movie Plus.

“The show brought me right back to the pain, to the day he was kidnapped,” she said.

Prosecutors said Abu Khdeir’s convicted killers were avenging the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens — Naftali Frankel, Gilad Sha’er and Eyal Yifrach — in the occupied West Bank two weeks earlier by members of Hamas.

The deaths of the four youths spiraled into a seven-week war between Israel and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

HBO’s 10-episode dramatization dissects Israel’s internal investigation into the three ultra-Orthodox Jews eventually convicted of Abu Khdeir’s murder and the frantic initial days after his parents learned of his disappearance and death.

The Hebrew- and Arabic-language series was written, directed and produced by two Jewish Israelis and an Arab Israeli, who mix documentary footage with live production to delve into the micro details they say drive the conflict.

“We live in an extremely nuanced world where wars erupt because of tiny things,” co-director Joseph Cedar, 50, said in an interview alongside collaborators Hagai Levi and Tawfik Abu Wael. “We tried to peel back the layers of this hate crime,” he said.

But some bereaved Israeli families have said the show largely glosses over the murder of the three Israeli teens, who are referenced throughout the series but not included as characters.

Two Hamas suspects in the murders were killed in a 2014 shootout and in 2015 an Israeli court sentenced a third Hamas member to three life terms for the teens’ abduction and murder.

Levi said the creators felt they had portrayed the context of Abu Khdeir’s killing. “But the crime is the story,” he said.


Jordan calls on Israel to release woman on hunger strike

Updated 16 October 2019

Jordan calls on Israel to release woman on hunger strike

  • Heba Al-Labadi was arrested Aug. 20 at the Allenby Bridge
  • She is being held in administrative detention without formal charges

AMMAN: Jordan is calling on Israel to release a Jordanian woman detained for over a month without trial on security charges.
Heba Ahmed Al-Labadi’s attorney said Wednesday that she was arrested Aug. 20 at the Allenby Bridge crossing (also known as the Al-Karameh crossing) between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank and has been on a hunger strike since Sept. 26.
Al-Labadi, 32, who is of Palestinian descent, is being held in “administrative detention,” an Israeli policy that permits detaining people for months without formal charges.
Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency says she is detained “because of suspicion of her involvement in serious security violations,” without elaborating.
Jordan’s Foreign Ministry says the hunger strike “makes the need for her immediate release more urgent.”
Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab countries to have made peace with Israel.