Hamas’s quick surprise offensive against Israel of the 7th October had already taken place, more than 18 months ago, on television screens in the Arab world, told by a TV series produced by the Palestinian Islamic movement itself.
According to its creators ‘The Fist of the Free’ (Qabdat al-Ahrar), broadcast by various Arab streaming platforms in the spring of 2022 during the Islamic month of Ramadan, should have represented an alternative to the famous Israeli fiction ‘Fauda’ (Chaos), available on Netflix.
The drama, created in the second part of 2021, chronicles the planning and success of a Hamas military operation against Israeli forces in and around the Gaza Strip.
According to the plot of the series, all started from a failed incursion into the Strip itself by a group of Israeli spies, who infiltrated undercover among the ranks of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the so-called armed wing of Hamas, in the front row in conducting the completely real operation of 7th October.
The TV series, made up of 30 episodes lasting 40 minutes each, was shot entirely in the Strip with the limited technical means available for the production, with the majority of non-professional actors and with a very low budget compared to international TV series . “The lead actor received a fee of $3,000 for work done over six months,” said Mahmud Thuraya, head of Hamas’s artistic production department.
Several scenes were filmed in more than prohibitive safety conditions, said Ahmad Maqadme of the TV production. Maqadme reported an anecdote in which Israeli border guards had shot, during filming, in the direction of the crew who were filming a scene of a fake assault on an Israeli tank very close to the separation wall between the Strip and Israel. Those fictional scenes, with the Israeli tank set on fire and surrounded by Palestinian fighters, inevitably bring to mind images of the recent Hamas attack behind enemy lines.
The political objective of ‘The Fist of the Free’, Thuraya argued in some interviews that appeared last year in the Arab media, was to balance a pro-Israeli narrative which, according to several commentators, is very widespread in Western popular culture as it transpires in the fiction ‘Fauda’.
“We are taking part in a real clash of mentalities,” said Thuraya. However, the TV series has never been released in Western languages. “On the one hand there is ‘Fauda’ and other products that emphasise the role of members of the Israeli security services, who are portrayed as being more intelligent and capable than the Palestinians. On the other hand there are us, who want to show the true criminal and oppressive face of the Israelis and the continuous suffering of the Palestinians.”
Photo credit: Arab News