Palestinian producer: False film funded by PA
Documentary claims Israeli army committed war crimes
Posted: January 17, 20051:00 a.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein WorldNetDaily.com
A Palestinian filmmaker who produced a documentary alleging Israeli troops
committed war crimes in a refugee camp admitted in a deposition last week to
falsifying scenes, using inaccurate information and obtaining financing for
the project from the Palestinian Authority, WorldNetDaily has learned.
Muhammad Bakri, producer of "Jenin, Jenin," a documentary that claims Israel
committed genocide in the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002, admitted in a
deposition to inaccuracies throughout his film. The filmmaker is being sued
by five Israeli soldiers visible in still footage in the film, which alleges
IDF troops killed a "large number" of civilians, mutilated Palestinian
bodies, randomly executed and bombed women, children and the mentally and
physically impaired, and leveled the entire refugee camp, including a wing
of the local hospital.
The documentary doesn't show footage of the alleged atrocities, but in some
scenes, faces of the soldiers now suing Bakri were superimposed over
"eyewitness testimony," and it was indicated they had committed "war
But Bakri, in a deposition obtained by WND, admitted he "believed" selected
witnesses but didn't check the information they provided.
"I believed the things that I've been told. What I did not believe was not
included in the film," said Bakri.
When asked about a scene in which it is implied Israeli troops ran over
civilians, Bakri admitted to constructing the footage himself as an
"artistic choice." He also answered "no" when asked if he believed "that
during the operation in Jenin, the Israeli soldiers killed people
In perhaps the most explosive element of the deposition, Bakri admitted his
documentary, which was screened in theaters around the world, was financed
in part by the Palestinian Authority. He said Yasser Abed Rabu, Palestinian
minister of culture and information and a member of former PLO leader Yasser
Arafat's executive committee, "covered a part of the film expenses."
Israel entered Jenin, which was considered a center for terrorist
recruitment and operations, as part of its Operation Defensive Shield to
crack down on increased suicide bombings by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades. Israel sent infantry units to fight house-to-house and
lost nearly two dozen soldiers to ambushes, Palestinian snipers and
Claims of a massacre were immediately made following the operation by the
Palestinian leadership, which spoke of upwards of 500 civilians killed and
thousands wounded, but it was later determined 56 Palestinians, mostly
gunmen, were killed, and 23 Israeli soldiers died in the battle.
Media accounts, documentary evidence and investigations by several
international humanitarian organizations quickly proved there was no
Bakri's film features several "witnesses" describing "brutality" by the IDF,
claiming Israel attacked and killed "many, many" Palestinians with tanks,
planes and snipers, although Bakri never lists the exact number of
But a film by Pierre Rehov, "The Road To Jenin," seems to disprove many of
Bakri's claims, and has been cited in the lawsuit against the Palestinian
One charge by Bakri is that Israel fired 11 missiles at a Jenin hospital,
leveling the facility while patients were inside, and later wouldn't allow
emergency personnel to access the area. Hospital manager Dr. Mustafa Abo
Gali tells Bakri's audience, "The whole of the west wing was destroyed.
Fighter planes launched their missiles every three minutes."
But in "The Road to Jenin," Rehov also interviews Gali, who shows the
filmmaker the extent of the damage - a small hole on the outside of a
building, with the entire west wing intact. Rehov also provides aerial
images of the hospital on the last day of the Jenin incursion showing all
sections of the hospital standing normally.
With regard to Bakri's claim that ambulances weren't able to reach the area,
Dr. David Zangen, the IDF chief medical officer in Jenin during the
incursion, describes to Rehov how Israeli soldiers treated many wounded
Palestinian fighters, including members of Hamas. Rehov even cuts to a scene
of an Israeli soldier authorizing Gali in person to receive any medical
supplies he needs for the Jenin hospital.
Writes Tamar Sternthal of the Committee for Accuracy in Reporting in the
Middle East, "Even casual observers will notice apparent inconsistencies in
the 'witness testimony' on which Bakri relies. For example, an older
interviewee charges that the Israelis made Palestinian prisoners fully
undress: 'Some people were completely undressed in front of their brothers,
sisters and children, who were used as human shields.' Yet, the accompanying
image does not support this claim; it shows a group of Palestinians, some of
them without shirts. All wore pants."
Bakri also claims the IDF shot in the hands an unarmed Palestinian villager,
Ali Youssef, and when he couldn't stand up, they shot his feet. But Rehov
found Youssef for his documentary and reveals Youssef was standing in a
housing complex with Hamas gunmen when he was shot once in the hand. Israeli
medics treated Youssef's wound, found a congenital heart problem, no foot
injury and brought him to Israel for treatment at a hospital in Afula.
Hospital papers disclose Youssef was not shot in the leg at all.
Zangen says Bakri uses deceptive filmography techniques to create the myth
of a massacre, a charge now supported by Bakri's deposition. Zangen cites
one scene of a tank heading toward a crowd. The scene then blacks out,
falsely suggesting the people were all killed, says Zangen. Also, Bakri, who
Zangen says was not on scene at any time during the battle to get footage,
deceptively juxtaposes images of Israeli tanks and snipers taking aim with
pictures of Palestinian children, another charge Bakri has admitted to.
Some of the juxtaposed soldiers include the five who filed suit against
Bakri in Tel Aviv court seeking more than $500,000 in damages. The lawsuit,
filed in Hebrew and obtained by WorldNetDaily, charges Bakri falsely claims
the soldiers committed war crimes.
The five plaintiffs are current reserve soldiers and say their professional
lives require constant contact with Palestinians who may recognize their
faces from Bakri's documentary and seek to attack them.
"Bakri's blatant use of lies and deception to build his one-sided case about
Palestinians suffering at the hands of brutal Israel disqualifies it from
having contributed to any 'big truth.' Rather, 'Jenin, Jenin' amounts to
incitement fueling vicious propaganda that claims Jews 'are not even
human.'" writes Sternthal. She credits Rehov with exposing the
"inflammatory - and defamatory - falsehoods spread by works like 'Jenin,
Aaron Klein is WorldNetDaily's special Middle East correspondent, whose past
interview subjects have included Yasser Arafat, Ehud Barak, Shlomo Ben Ami
and leaders of the Taliban.