Hamas hopes Gaza viewers will say ‘Salam’ to its ‘Fauda’ clone

Anti-Israeli sentiment in Gaza runs so high that actors who have played Jews have faced hostility, harassment and even violence from audiences.

 Lior Raz and Lucy Ayoub of 'Fauda.' (photo credit: Elia Spinopolos/Yes)
Lior Raz and Lucy Ayoub of 'Fauda.'
(photo credit: Elia Spinopolos/Yes)

Fauda has been a hit on Netflix all over the world, including in Arab countries, and now a Hamas-affiliated production company in Gaza is reportedly making its own television series inspired by the show.

According to Agence France Presse (AFP), the Hamas-backed series, Qabdat al-Ahrar (Fist of the Free), tells the story of a 2018 Israeli operation in Gaza in which seven Hamas fighters and an Israeli soldier were killed.

In recent years, Hamas has been investing in Hollywood-like action series and romances similar to what is seen in Turkish telenovelas, which are popular around the Arab world. Hamas runs a channel called Al-Aqsa which produces and broadcasts all kinds of content.

Fauda, which is about an Israeli counterterrorism unit, has been a guilty pleasure among some Palestinians for years and this inspired Hamas to make its own show about the conflict. Mohammed Soraya, the director of Qabdat al-Ahrar, told AFP that watching any Israeli series is wrong because it constitutes a normalization of relations with Israel and “supports the Zionist occupation ... [Israeli TV series] criminalize the Palestinian people... We want to flip the equation, to show the Palestinian point of view, to broadcast a drama about the spirit of our resistance.”  

The heroes in the series he is making are Hamas fighters and unlike Fauda, in which Israeli Arabs play Palestinian characters and speak Arabic, on the Gaza series, all Israeli characters speak Arabic and are portrayed by Arabs. In deference to Hamas’ interpretation of Islamic law, even actresses portraying secular Israelis wear headscarves.

 The tunnels were not under empty fields, rather apartment buildings and homes. Pictured: Gaza City (credit: REUTERS) The tunnels were not under empty fields, rather apartment buildings and homes. Pictured: Gaza City (credit: REUTERS)

The low-budget series does attempt to portray Israeli life authentically in some ways and props include Israeli flags and a portrait of Zionist leader, Theodore Herzl.

Anti-Israeli feeling in Gaza runs so high that actors who have played Jews have faced hostility, harassment and even violence from audiences, who apparently cannot separate fact from fiction.

 “Some women look at me and pray that I die. I’m happy when people insult me. It means I’ve succeeded,” Jawad Harouda, who plays the head of the Shin Bet in the series, said.

Kamila Fadel, an actress on the series, told AFP, “In one series, I played a Jewish woman. After the series was broadcast, a woman tried to strangle me. She told me: ‘I hate you, you are hurting us so much.’ On another day, a 13-year-old boy threw a stone at my head thinking I was Jewish... this means I played my part well.”

Qabdat al-Ahrar is set to be released in the spring, in time for Ramadan.