Withdrawal From Gaza

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Forbidden City International

NEW YORK -- Joel Blasberg and Oreet Rees' documentary focuses on the tumultuous period in summer 2005 when the Israeli government dictated the removal of thousands of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip in an attempt to further peace with the Palestinians. Featuring extensive footage of the process as well as numerous interviews with those who were displaced, "Withdrawal From Gaza" details the trauma suffered both by them and the soldiers fulfilling their duties.

Indeed, the film is stronger in terms of emotional impact than providing information. It will be best appreciated by those already somewhat familiar with the events in question, and lacks the historical context necessary to lift the entry above the plethora of similarly themed documentaries concerning the recent travails in the Middle East.

The film centers on the fateful day of Aug. 15, 2005, when Israeli soldiers began the forced evacuation of about 8,500 people from the 21 Jewish settlements (collectively known as Gush Katif) from the Gaza Strip on the orders of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Focusing on several families (many of whom we also see in flashbacks preparing for the move), it well delineates the physical and emotional turmoil that marked the process on all sides.

Despite the inclusion of interviews with several political and military figures, the film largely focuses on the testimony of the displaced settlers, which tend to carry more emotional than intellectual weight. Another problem is that little or no attention is paid to the perspectives of the Palestinians, with the result that the film seems one-sided in its approach.

Still, there is no denying the power of much of the footage on display, which brings to vivid life events that too many of us have thought about only abstract terms.
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