At the gates of the Negev desert young Palestinians fight through videocameras and nonviolent actions the Israeli military occupation, taking back the lands stolen from their families.
At the gates of the Negev desert, a group of young Palestinians fights against the Israeli military occupation. "Youth of Sumud” - the youth of steadfast perseverance - tries to return to their people the land that was taken from their families, restructuring the ancient cave village of Sarura.
They face aggression with nonviolent action, defending themselves from rifles with their video cameras; they oppose desolation and death with hope and life.
Ten years after their first documentary on the nonviolent struggle in the West Bank, the directors return to the village of At-Tuwani and, using archival material more than 15 years old, tell how the children have grown up.
Sarura is a village located in the South of the West Bank, under Israeli civil and military control (Area C); it is located between the city of Hebron and the Negev Desert, near to the Israeli colonies of Ma'on and Avigayil.
The inhabitants of Sarura lived on a subsistence economy, thanks to the breeding of animals and the cultivation of olive trees. animals and the cultivation of olive trees. At the end of the 90's, the village was completely abandoned as a result of constant attacks by settlers from the outposts of Havat Ma'on and Avigayil, recently settled in the area, and the threats of the Israeli soldiers who had begun to prohibit the use of their lands to avoid contact between Palestinians and Israelis.
While Sarura was being evacuated - a fate shared by other villages in the area - the inhabitants of the nearby At-Tuwani managed to resist the evacuation attempts by forming a popular struggle committee, avoiding evacuation and continuing for years to claim the right to remain on their land, carrying out peaceful demonstrative actions of objection to the diktats of the Israeli government and continuing to graze on their land.
Thanks to the help of international organisations such as Operation Dove, Israeli activists from Tayush and other solidarity groups, the inhabitants have never been alone and have had the opportunity over the years to document what was happening in the area, often providing video material to the trials that have been instituted against Palestinian activists, presenting evidence against the violations committed by the Israelis, trying to show the policy of apartheid implemented by the Israeli government.
The story of the village of At-Tuwani is the one we filmed and told in our first film “Tomorrow’s Land – how we decided to tear down the invisible wall” (2011), focusing on the experience of the nonviolent resistance of the Popular Committee in the South Hebron Hills.
In 2018, we returned to At-Tuwani to tell the story of "Youth of Sumud," a teen and youth collective born and raised under military occupation and within the village's popular struggle. The boys and girls of YOS are the children we filmed ten years ago as they made a gruelling trek from the village of Tuba to At-Tuwani escorted by Israeli army soldiers; they are the children we saw going to school and dreaming of the end of the occupation.
The youth of YOS have decided not only to continue the nonviolent resistance actions of the committee, but also to regain possession of the lands that were taken from their fellow citizens, going to live in the evacuated caves of Sarura, committing themselves to restoring life in the village by planting olive trees, escorting the shepherds of the area and documenting the settlers' attacks with cameras and cell phones, communicating with the world what happens in the South Hebron Hills thanks to Facebook.
They do not know what their future will be like, having been born and raised under military occupation, but they are looking for glimpses of hope in the present of a life without oppression and violence. They won't give up to live their lives without the trust of man in man.
In 2010 we were invited by the Italian association Operation Dove to visit the village of At-Tuwani, where it had been present for some years with a monitoring and unarmed accompaniment garrison, to tell the experience of nonviolent resistance of the Popular Committee of the Southern Hills of Hebron.
We were a group of young filmmakers, and for the first time we were confronted with such a sensitive political issue as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the military occupation of the West Bank.
In order to keep the promise made to the shepherds of the area and to the committee's activist, we returned to Italy and produced, thanks to crowdfunding, "Tomorrow's Land - how we decided to tear down the invisible wall", a documentary made thanks to hundreds of supporters and screenings that took place in many cities in Italy and around the world.
To us Sarura is the return to the same village ten years later, the new promise to give visibility to the incredible story of the shepherds, men and women of the South Hebron Hills’ resistance, told through the voices of their children, those who in Tomorrow's Land were only boys and girls and who have grown up continuing to confront the abuse and violence caused by the colonies' expansion projects and the military occupation of their fathers' lands.
We chose to tell the story from their point of view, spending a few weeks with the Youth of Sumud, sleeping with them in the Sarura caves, accompanying them to school, witnessing the settlers' constant provocations and the soldiers' intimidation at the borders of their village (a few hundred meters from their homes). We spoke with them, trying to understand what are the aspirations of a young person who grows up and lives in a village constantly threatened while studying by the light of a led lamp to prepare for his law school exams.
Boys and girls who dream of living a normal life, getting married and having children and to give a future to their existence in conditions of normality, wondering whether to leave a tortured land or stay to continue a struggle that seems eternal but at the same time necessary and legitimate.
We have decided to tell the story of Youth of Sumud because it can be a concrete example of hope, a peaceful struggle full of human dignity, whose conclusion is still uncertain but whose final outcome is written through the story of each person. A tiny story compared to the History with a capital H, but at the same time universal and representative of a conflict that seems never to end.
"We need to turn the occupation with intelligence and education. Don't give up and go to school every day."