The Jerusalem Post

My Word: When real life meets the TV set

 ACTORS AND film crew work on the set of Israeli television series ‘Fauda’ in Tel Aviv in May 2019.  (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
ACTORS AND film crew work on the set of Israeli television series ‘Fauda’ in Tel Aviv in May 2019.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

The term “fauda” is used as the codeword when an operation goes wrong and backup is needed. This was in my head when the IDF called helicopters to extract troops who had raided Jenin.

‘Fauda.’ It’s the Arabic word for “chaos” and it’s the great title for the prize-winning Israeli action TV series. Both the word and the series came to mind this week for the worst reasons. The TV show, created by Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff based on their experiences in an IDF undercover counter-terrorism unit, is an international hit. The term “fauda” is used as the codeword when an operation goes wrong and the special forces need emergency back-up to help get them out of a critical situation.

The series should carry a parental guidance warning: My advice to parents is to avoid it if you have a child currently serving in an IDF combat position in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Without publishing a spoiler for those readers who haven’t yet seen the end of the fourth series, I could barely breathe during the closing scene. And, yes, I know that it was all carefully scripted and filmed, but it was still tense and haunting. 

Fauda – the series and the concept – hovered in my thoughts on Monday as the IDF called in helicopters for air cover during an operation to extricate personnel who had participated in a complex raid to arrest terrorists in Jenin. Several IDF vehicles were stuck under fire when an armored military vehicle drove over an explosive device as it was leaving the area. Seven members of the Israeli forces – soldiers and Border Police officers – were wounded during the incident. An Oketz unit dog – Dago – was also wounded when the IED exploded and was evacuated along with his handler to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where both received emergency care.

According to Palestinian sources, five Palestinians were killed and more than 90 wounded during the operation which involved heavy gunfire. Similar to previous operations, the majority of the Palestinians killed were armed. A 15-year-old girl, a bystander, reportedly later died from wounds she sustained in the shooting.


The following day, two Hamas-affiliated terrorists murdered four Israelis at a hummus bar and gas station at the entrance to Eli, in the Binyamin Region. The victims were Nachman Shmuel Mordoff, 16; Elisha Antman, 18; Harel Masoud, 21; and Ofer Feirman, 63, a father of two. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups immediately claimed the attack was revenge for the previous day’s events in Jenin – not that terrorists need an excuse. Since the beginning of 2023, 28 people – mostly civilians – have been killed in terror attacks in Israel including Judea and Samaria.

 A helicopter flies during an Israeli raid in Jenin, in the West Bank June 19, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/RANEEN SAWAFTA)
A helicopter flies during an Israeli raid in Jenin, in the West Bank June 19, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/RANEEN SAWAFTA)

Palestinian terror and IDF raids strike the West Bank

The attack on the last day of the school year was a reminder of another barbaric act of terrorism. Seven years ago, on June 30, 2016, 13-year-old Hallel Ariel was stabbed to death in her bed in Kiryat Arba as she slept late on the first day of the summer vacation. The Palestinian terrorist who killed her was 17 years old. A teenager. 

I am acutely aware that there is great evil lurking out there – and it isn’t in the form of the IDF soldiers and security personnel who are trying to arrest terrorists and thwart attacks. 

I know the families of three 13-year-old terror victims. Each was killed in a different period: The first was killed in a suicide bombing in 1997, a victim of the Palestinian terrorism that accompanied the Oslo peace process. Koby Mandell was battered to death with his friend Yosef Ishran in May 2001, during the Second Intifada, after the Palestinians rejected a peace agreement with Israel. When Hallel was murdered, some observers tried to blame it on the lack of peace talks – ignoring the waves of terror that had already been inflicted on the country. As I noted, Palestinian terrorists don’t need an excuse to carry out their atrocities; neither the organizations, nor the so-called lone wolves. 

The parents of all the Israeli terror victims I know – and, sadly, they number more than the three mentioned here – have created a positive way to commemorate their loved ones. That’s why a tweet by US Ambassador Tom Nides following the Eli massacre was so jarring. “Deeply concerned about the civilian deaths and injuries that have occurred in the West Bank these past 48 hours, including that of minors,” the American envoy said. Moral equivalence can be immoral. Following a media and public uproar, Nides evidently thought it would be diplomatic to update his response and tweeted: “I condemn in the strongest terms the senseless murder of four innocent Israelis today – my heart is with their grieving family members.”


The Hamas leadership is happy to let its members in the West Bank do its dirty work, particularly in Jenin and Nablus, while the leaders sit comfortably in Gaza or in luxury hotels overseas. This week, by the way, a Hamas delegation led by Ismail Haniyeh traveled to the capital of Iran to meet with President Ebrahim Raisi. Nothing good can come out of that parley – apart from fodder for Tehran, another Israeli TV series that became an international hit.

The wave of terror is closely related to the weakening grip of Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas in the areas nominally under his control. Some of the terrorists were members of the Palestinian Authority security forces. All the terrorists, or their families, benefit from the PA’s “pay-for-slay” policy which provides a financial incentive to kill.

The question of what will happen in the post-Abbas era is clearly on everyone’s mind. Although aged and ailing, Abbas – now in the 19th year of his four-year term – last week managed a visit to China, trying to bring the People’s Republic on board in renewed peace negotiations.

Since peace doesn’t seem to be on the horizon – unless it’s in the fantasy world of TV and movies – the more immediate concern is how to respond to the attacks now, in the real world. The terror attacks are evidence of the widespread illegal arms in Palestinian towns and villages while the use of IEDs against Israeli military vehicles is reminiscent of the tactics of Iranian proxy Hezbollah. Some observers described it as the “‘Lebanonization’ of the West Bank.” 

Some are calling for a major operation along the lines of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. This was launched after the Park Hotel Massacre in Netanya in which 30 Israelis were murdered as they sat down to a festive Seder night meal on Passover eve – altogether more than 130 Israelis were killed in the month that earned the moniker “Black March.” Other Israeli politicians and defense officials favor ramping up the current response of targeted operations based on Israel’s exceptional intelligence capabilities – the stuff movies are made of.

Either way, the IDF and security forces should be allowed to carry out their orders and act. There is no place for vigilantes, no matter how dire the terrorist provocations.

What takes place in Judea and Samaria doesn’t stay there. Terrorists hit whenever and wherever they can. Similarly, the Iranian threat is not limited to Israel. And the dangers of Islamic State and other Sunni jihadist terror organizations are being felt around the globe. Only last week, some 40 pupils were killed in their boarding school in Uganda by Islamic State terrorists. My heart goes out to their families. Truly. And I have no sympathy for their despicable murderers. You cannot equate them. 

A READER this week complained that too many of the recent front-page headlines of The International Jerusalem Post, which I edit, have been grim, giving the (false) impression that there was no good news to be found. I sympathize with the reader. It’s the dilemma of an editor to decide what the lead story should be. When there are major terror or rocket attacks, they take precedence.

It would be great if I could lead with the success of Israeli movies and TV shows, including comedies like Nevsu and Cash Register. Or sports. Or scientific achievements. All these do indeed exist. 

And I would love for the main story to be Hebrew Book Week – the nationwide event in which readers and writers meet and young and old get a chance to enjoy literature. I could also do with some escapism and a good read with a happy ending.

One story I’d be happy to sink my teeth into is the inclusion of Jerusalem pizza parlor La Piedra in Italy’s prestigious Top 50 Pizza guide. Israeli cuisine is by now a well-known success story, but there is something particularly appealing about a kosher pizzeria in the Israeli capital being favorably judged by Italians. It leaves a good taste in the mouth.