Filmed during the attack and in the days following the ceasefire, the documentary tells the story of how Gaza’s armed resistance groups outwitted the vastly superior Israeli military and established their ability to intervene against Israeli ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods like Sheikh Jarrah and provocations at the al-Aqsa compound in occupied East Jerusalem.
“The Palestinian military capabilities are not highly sophisticated and destructive, but it becomes so effective when it’s used by Palestinian smart youths who believe in their rights and freedom,” a masked al-Qassam commander says.
The documentary features intimate interviews with survivors, many of whom lost family members in the Israeli bombardment.
Among them is Omar Abu al-Ouf, who lost 22 family members in the bombing of his family’s house in al-Remal, Gaza’s main thoroughfare.
“The first missile came down on us in the street with no prior warning or call,” he recounted.
Among those killed was Omar’s father, Dr. Ayman Abu al-Ouf, one of the most senior physicians in all of Gaza.
Others, like 11-year-old Amal Ramzi Muhammed Nasir, fled amid the bombardment to take shelter in United Nations-run schools.
“We were trying to sleep. At exactly 1 a.m., there were sounds of explosions and airstrikes nearby. The house was shaking due to the intensity of the explosions.”
Having escaped to a school, Nasir and her family returned after the ceasefire to find their homes in ruin.
“We arrived and saw that our neighborhood that housed us our entire lives, our shelter, completely leveled to the ground,” she recalled. “Every single house was damaged and bombed.”
Jawad Mahdi, owner of the al-Jalaa tower, described Israel destroying the place he and his family lived for 25 years:
The building collapsed, and it took 25 years’ worth of memories, a place we lived in for 25 years, with my children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends. Imagine building a house brick by brick, piece by piece, living in your home with your knowledge and dreams. Suddenly, you find yourself out of this house. An indescribable tragedy – being kicked out of your own home in an instant, a matter of seconds, even a minute, under nonexistent, illogical, and unethical reasons.”
As for future confrontations with the Israeli military, the al-Qassam commander sees them as inevitable as long as the occupation remains: “The Israeli occupation experienced our military capabilities in the last aggression on the Gaza Strip and the whole world saw it. And we still have more important capabilities in the shadow.”
He believes that armed resistance presents a viable path to liberation:
The lessons learned from the last aggression on the Gaza Strip is that Israel is an occupation state that could be defeated. It’s not a firm state that has been depicted by the Israeli Zionist propaganda machine. Palestinians can get their liberation and retrieve their rights and freedom.”
Feature photo | A Palestinian child sits atop the rubble of homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, May 21, 2021. Khalil Hamra | AP
Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000.