"Our Boys", which premiered in Israel and the United States last
week, centers on Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian
who was abducted near his East Jerusalem home and burned to
death by three Israelis, two of them also teenagers, in July
"I wish I could reach into the screen and grab hold of my son,"
Abu Khdeir's mother, Suha, told Reuters, her voice breaking,
soon after watching the first two episodes of the series, a
co-production of HBO and Israel's Keshet International and
produced by Movie Plus.
"The show brought me right back to the pain, to the day he was
kidnapped," she said.
Prosecutors said Abu Khdeir's convicted killers were avenging
the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens - Naftali
Frankel, Gilad Sha'er and Eyal Yifrach - in the occupied West
Bank two weeks earlier by members of the Islamist group Hamas.
The deaths of the four youths spiraled into a seven-week war
between Israel and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
HBO's 10-episode dramatization dissects Israel's internal
investigation into the three ultra-Orthodox Jews eventually
convicted of Abu Khdeir's murder and the frantic initial days
after his parents learned of his disappearance and death.
The Hebrew- and Arabic-language series was written, directed and
produced by two Jewish Israelis and an Arab Israeli, who mix
documentary footage with live production to delve into the micro
details they say drive the conflict.
"We live in an extremely nuanced world where wars erupt because
of tiny things," co-director Joseph Cedar, 50, said in an
interview alongside collaborators Hagai Levi and Tawfik Abu Wael.
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"We tried to peel back the layers of this hate crime," he said.
But some bereaved Israeli families have said the show largely
glosses over the murder of the three Israeli teens, who are
referenced throughout the series but not included as characters.
Two Hamas suspects in the murders were killed in a 2014 shootout and
in 2015 an Israeli court sentenced a third Hamas member to three
life terms for the teens' abduction and murder.
"The balance is not clear to someone viewing the show, who thinks
'we murder them, they murder us'," said Merav Hajaj, whose daughter,
an army officer, was killed along with three other cadets in a
Palestinian truck ramming attack in Jerusalem in 2017.
Hajaj, 49, wrote a letter signed by some 120 bereaved Israeli
families criticizing HBO and requesting the program list the number
of Israelis killed in Palestinian attacks through the years.
Levi said the creators felt they had portrayed the context of Abu
"But the crime is the story," he said.
(Additional reporting by Dedi Hayoun in Ma'ale Adumim; Editing by
Jeffrey Heller and Alexandra Hudson)
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