On September 4, 1997, three Palestinian youths blew themselves up on Ben Yehuda street in crowded central Jerusalem. Among the victims were three 14 year - old Israeli girls - Sivann Zarka, Yael Botwin and Smadar Elhanan. The suicide bombers, Tawfiq Yassine, Bashar Sawalha and Youssef Shouli, were young Palestinians from the same Israeli-occupied West Bank village - ranging in age from 22 to 25 years old.
THE BOMBING documents the search for answers in the aftermath of this tragedy. Through interviews with the families of both the victims' and the bombers', the film attempts to offer insight into the psychology and ideology that perpetuates such violence in the Middle East.
For the family of Smadar Elhanan, whose grandfather, General Mati Peled was the pioneer of Israeli/Palestinian dialogue, the death marks another senseless tragedy in the ongoing conflict. Smadar's mother, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, no longer lives in Israel. She, like some (but not all) of the other parents, places the blame for her daughter's death on the Israeli Government and it's oppression of the Palestinian people.
Smadar is buried next to her grandfather in Jerusalem. Her funeral was attended by leaders of the Labor Party, including then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres, as well as delegates from the Palestinian Authority.
In Assira al-Shamaliya, the home of the Palestinian youths, we hear from the families of the attackers. In tearful, arduous interviews, they say that they knew nothing of their sons' plans, and condemn their actions as sacrilegious. Walking through the town, they describe the tactics employed by the Israeli Army in the aftermath of the bombing. Amineh, Youssef Shouli's father tells how Israeli soldiers demolished his family home. Yasser, Bashar Sawalha's brother recounts his arrest and 12 days and nights of torture in an Israeli jail. Both are common forms of collective punishment carried out against the family of a suicide bomber.
Emotionally gripping, THE BOMBING is a meditative and composed documentary on the phenomenon of suicide bombings, the psychology of extremism, and the larger issue of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Its ending sequence, including an encounter between an Israeli and Palestinian family, is a poignant reminder of the need for dialogue between the two sides, even in the face of the most horrendous violence.
"Highly Recommended! Exposes viewers to the psychological trauma of everyday existence in Israel and provides intimate portraits of this country's inhabitants who live under constant fear and disillusionment. ...skillful interviews with Palestinian and Israeli parents and siblings of the bombers and victims transcend the stories of personal tragedy and loss to reveal the broken psyche of a country torn apart by years of war and irreconcilable differences." - Educational Media Reviews Online
2002 DocAviv Film Festival (Israel)
2002 Vermont Women's Film Festival
"Would succeed simply as a description of the events leading up to the bombing and the bombing itself, but exceeds expectations by addressing sensitively the aftermath of such actions... Bitton lets the participants (or more accurately, their families) tell their stories with a minimum of narrative intervention. As a result, THE BOMBING presents a very human perspective on an event many would characterize as inhuman." - Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution
"Deconstructs the bombing through interviews, eye-witness accounts and even a Palestinian psychiatrist's analysis of the young bomber's motivations.... [It] succeeds in establishing a different, universal context within which to understand the current Intifida." - Al Jadid: A Review & Record of Arab Culture and Arts