The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a final ruling permanently barring the documentary Jenin, Jenin from being screened in Israel. Jenin, Jenin realized by film director and actor Mohammad Bakri which was released in 2002, is a set of interviews with Palestinians who lived through the Israeli military invasion of the Jenin refugee camp, north of the occupied West Bank, at the height of the Second Intifada in April 2002.
The 11-day Israeli assault killed 52 Palestinians, including women, the elderly and children, and almost 300 homes were razed by Israeli bulldozers. The Israeli army, which launched a major military operation in West Bank cities in 2002, said that 23 soldiers were killed.
Film director and actor Mohammad Bakri (Photo: Al-Ittihad)
Bakri told journalists that he does not regret making the film. “If I could go back in time, I would reshoot the film to expose the inhumane crimes committed by the Israeli army in its invasion of heroic Jenin camp,” Bakri said. “As an artist, I did not interfere in the content of the testimonies or guide them, and this is the truth that the occupation does not want to hear because it exposes its crimes,” he added.
In two priors but somewhat different lawsuits, the Supreme Court allowed the movie to continue to be screened, either because the objection to its screening was too vague and ran up against free speech principles or because the group of specific plaintiffs suing for defamation was not actually visible in the movie.
This difference led to the Lod District Court ruling in January 2021 in favor of the plaintiff and former IDF Lt.-Col. Nissim Meganji, awarding him NIS 175,000 as compensation for defamation against Bakri.
Bakri appealed to the Supreme Court claiming that Meganjii’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations either because he waited too long to sue him or because the last screenings of the film in Israel were back in 2010-2012. Despite the ruling banning its physical screening, the district court did not order the film’s removal from YouTube in Israel, Meganji did not appeal on that issue and so the Supreme Court did not intervene.
Bakri’s documentary is available to watch on Vimeo.