‘Our Boys’ is an American-Israeli miniseries developed for HBO by Hagai Levi, Joseph Cedar and Tawfik Abu-Wael. The ten-episode show follows the death of three Jewish teenagers which, in turn, led to the murder of a Palestinian teenager. The story focuses on the efforts of law enforcement to catch the culprits and deal with the growing outrage in the community. The families of the victims also take centre stage and we explore the vulnerable and humane side of the story through their fight for justice in a country divided on the grounds of their tragedies. Validating the philosophy of “an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind”, this heart-breaking story and the terrifying crimes make one wonder, for how long will the vicious cycle of revenge repeat itself?
What Happened to the Boys?
The story of ‘Our Boys’ begins in the summer of 2014. Gilad Shaer (16), Naftali Frenkel (16) and Eyal Yifrah (19) were Jewish teenagers, hitchhiking in Gush Etzion in the West Bank. They had been waiting at a stop when a vehicle stopped for them. One of the teens went up to the driver to talk to him and then gestured his companions to come over when the driver agreed to help them. Unbeknownst to them, the driver and his companions had already been on a hunt for hitchhikers like them. When the vehicle took a turn in the opposite direction of their destination, the teens realised that they had been kidnapped. Shaer used his phone to call the police emergency hotline and in hushed voices, reported that he had been kidnapped. However, the service had received a lot of prank calls in the past, and so, didn’t pay any heed to this one either.
When the boys failed to show up at their homes, one of their families reached out to the police. The preliminary investigation led the cops back to that emergency call. They could hear someone in the background shouting in Arabic and there were also a couple of gunshot sounds. Later, it was revealed that the teens had been killed hours after their abduction, which had taken place on June 12. The bodies weren’t found until June 30.
On July 11, Hussam Qawasmeh was arrested for the kidnapping and the murder of the three teenagers. It didn’t take much time to get a confession out of him, in which he also accepted the involvement of Hamas militants. Later, however, his lawyer tried to scrap the confession by stating that Hussam had been pressurised into it. The response on the matter from Hamas was quite mixed, in the beginning. One of the officials took responsibility for the crime, hoping that their actions would help secure the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Others, on the other hand, denied any involvement of the organization. They accepted that the perpetrators were affiliated to them, but said that they were not aware of their plans. This did not stop them from applauding the act and the murderers.
The brutal death of three teens didn’t sit well with their community. While the whole nation was shocked and outraged by the events and wanted the murderers to pay the price, there were some people who couldn’t see the difference between the innocent Arabs living in their neighbourhood to the ones who actually did it. They wanted someone to pay the price, and that “someone” could be anyone. The hatred for Arabs escalated quickly, especially in social media.
On the morning of July 2, 2014, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted by Israeli settlers. In the guise of asking directions, they chatted him up and then forced him into the car. Khdeir’s cry for help was heard by a few people, but before anyone could act, the car was gone. The family immediately notified the police, and they found him a few hours later. He had been severely bludgeoned and the remains in his lungs suggested that he had been burnt alive. But that was not the end of the retaliatory actions.