Killing Gaza is a film chronicle of the extraordinary suffering caused by a military campaign of grossly disproportionate force used against a trapped population.
The 51-day Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014 saw over 2,200 people killed, including some 550 children, by an unprecedented degree of military force being unleashed onto a civilian population. 100,000 homes were estimated to have been destroyed.
A year and a half later, the reconstruction promised by the international community has not taken place; in its absence, a humanitarian catastrophe has taken hold among the traumatized people of Gaza, who’ve been abandoned and forgotten by international institutions and governments. The documentary’s director and co-producer Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author. Blumenthal’s most recent book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, provides much of the basis for this film project.
Blumenthal’s most recent documentary, Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie, explored the climate of Islamophobia and repression that has swept through France after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Co-produced by James Kleinfeld, that film was recently screened at Berlin’s Internationale human rights film festival.
Co-producer Dan Cohen is an independent journalist based in occupied East Jerusalem and has produced widely distributed video reports and dispatches from across Israel-Palestine for outlets ranging from Mondoweiss to Electronic Intifada and The Nation. Cohen is one of the few Western journalists to have spent prolonged periods in the Gaza Strip since Israel’s devastating assault.
‘We documented the assault on Gaza during the war and chronicled its horrific aftermath during two seasons of some of the most extreme weather the region has ever experienced. As we waded through the rubble of Gaza’s destroyed border regions, we turned a camera onto the survivors of the slaughter and let them speak for themselves’, Blumenthal tells us. ‘And Dan returned, week after week, to capture on film the daily struggles of the people of Gaza as they suffered through one of the worst winters in recorded history, and then weathered the sweltering summer heat without electricity and in many cases, without homes’.
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‘$30,000 will allow us to cover our debt for equipment upgrades and months of field work’, the filmmakers explain. They intend to screen the film as widely as possible, in film festivals around the world, through international broadcasters, and at community and campus forums, intending for it to be a vehicle for educating the public about the reality of life in Gaza, as well as to encourage international legal bodies and human rights groups to ‘transform the testimonies featured into this film into concrete action that holds Israel accountable’.
Into nine years of the Israeli blockade, some 1.8 million Palestinians continue to be trapped in the Gaza Strip, essentially cordoned off from the outside world.
Oxfam summarises the catastrophe; ‘The humanitarian needs remain enormous. Gaza has witnessed its worst destruction in decades and an already vulnerable civilian population has been left even more vulnerable. More than 100,000 people (more than half of these children) have had their homes destroyed and are still displaced. Most of the water supply is unsafe to drink and there are power cuts of 12 hours a day. Restrictions on essential building materials mean that rebuilding homes has yet to begin. The blockade prevents most people from leaving Gaza or trading with the outside world and markets in the West Bank. Fishermen and farmers are restricted from accessing their land and often shot at while working. The economy has been devastated, with more than 60 per cent of youth now unemployed – the highest rate in the world’.
The charity organisation also estimates that ‘at current rates, it could take more than 100 years to complete essential building of homes, schools and health facilities in Gaza.’