We gain rare access inside the Jenin Battalion as they fight back against Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank.
“I have no other choice but to carry my gun and to resist until I die because as things are now, I’m dead while breathing.”
Abu Aseel, not his real name, believes resorting to weapons is the only way of protecting himself and his family, who live in Jenin, a Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank. Like many young men from the impoverished refugee camp, Abu Aseel has taken up arms and joined the Jenin Battalion, a relatively new armed group formed to keep Israeli forces out of the city.
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Angered by years of Israeli restrictions and having been exposed to violence as a young boy during the battle of Jenin in April 2002 – which resulted in the death of dozens of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces – Abu Aseel argues that nothing can be expected from him other than violence. “They come here to invade our camp and our homes and they’re asking us why we’re carrying arms?” he adds. “When they come and raid my home and my family is in the house, then naturally, I will resist. I’d rather die than witness this happen.”
Meanwhile, Mariam Mohammad Ahmed Qassem, whose son was also a fighter in the Jenin Battalion, talks about how the state of degradation in which Palestinian communities live creates anger in children and pushes them towards aggression. A few months ago, her son was shot to death in an Israeli military raid. “There is no use arguing, he chose his path,” she says. “But I feel proud of him for defending his land and his country.”
In this episode of Close Up, we head to the occupied West Bank and get rare access to Palestinian fighters from the Jenin Battalion as they prepare to engage the Israeli army in what they see as the legitimate defence of their city.
Executive Producer: Donald Cameron
Director/Producer: Tierney Bonini
Editor: Khaled Ahmad Mohamad
Assistant Producer: Antonia Perello