The Heroes on Al Mayadeen: Full story of liberation from Gilboa Prison
On the one-year anniversary of the liberation of the six prisoners from the Gilboa prison tunnel, Al Mayadeen airs documentary episodes under the title: The Heroes, which tell the true story of their liberation in full and in detail.
At the beginning of the present year, the Al Mayadeen Media Network chose the Operation Freedom Tunnel heroes from the Gilboa prison as Person of the Year 2021 to distinguish these heroes with merit, inspiration, and creativity for the sake of freedom and the will to live.
To continue these heroes' rare and unprecedented story in our modern era, and on the occasion of its first anniversary, Al Mayadeen has created documentary episodes, under the name of The Heroes, which show the true account of the liberation of the six prisoners by digging a tunnel in the Gilboa Prison, which the occupation calls "The Iron Safe." The episodes also tell stories about the five prisoners who helped in the liberation process, based on their true narrative during which they revealed to Al Mayadeen exclusively the details of the operation, the events that were never told, and the events that occurred thereafter.
The episodes will allow viewers to meet the 11 heroes and will give a detailed description of the Gilboa prison and its fortifications while exposing the weakness of the Israeli security establishment revealed by such an operation. They will also uncover details such as how the prisoners broke out of the prison, their next destination, and how they were rearrested. The significance of Jenin, the town the six prisoners came from, will also be touched on.
The documentary comprises six episodes; the outdoor part was filmed in Khiam Detention Camp, southern Lebanon, and will be presented by Ghassan Ben Jeddou, Al Mayadeen Network CEO. They will be aired for over a week, dubbed by the channel The Week of the Heroes, starting on Thursday, September 29. In addition to the story, the episodes will host some of the families of the prisoners along with other international, Arab, and Palestinian figures.
Ben Jeddou: We wanted this story to go international
The purpose and importance of this work, Ben Jeddou said, is "to give those heroes the credit they deserve by telling the story that carries all meanings of determination, perseverance, strong will, and the Resistance's depth in its struggle and oblation," and "to express reality as it is, with no exaggeration, in order to convey true and accurate information."
"We wanted to make this work international, instead of just focusing on the story of the operation, so we spoke with some of the families and some prominent figures in the Arab World and the Global South," Ben Jeddou added, noting that "the work will be articulate and exciting, not only on the narrative level but also on the artistic and production levels, as we were keen on creating attractive visuals and using some graphics," he noted.
About the reason why Khiam Detention Camp was used to film the episodes, Ben Jeddou noted that "it was chosen on purpose because it was formerly a prison," adding that "the Operation Freedom Tunnel took place on September 6, 2021, and on the same day in 1992, a prisoners' escape also took place in the Khiam Detention Camp in Lebanon."
How did the heroes contact Al Mayadeen to tell the full story?
Talking about how Al Mayadeen was able to get the full story of the liberation from the Gilboa prison, Ben Jeddou clarified that "the heroes called the network and initiated the sharing of their story."
"The process happened in complete secrecy and over the course of eight months, during which the leader of the operation prisoner Mahmoud Al-Aridah and I communicated through a mediator inside occupied Palestine," Ben Jeddou revealed.
"The true and full story was told by Mahmoud Al-Aridah, as he was the mastermind and director of the operation, and he knows its details since the very first moments," he said.
"As for us, we also wanted and wished the rest of the prisoners to tell their stories as they are, especially after they were liberated from prison," Ben Jeddou said, adding that "the episodes will tell what the following prisoners said: Mouhammad Al-Arida, Yaqoub Qadri, Ayham Kamamji, Zakaria Al-Zubaidi, and Munadel Nafi'at."
Why Al Mayadeen?
Answering a question on why Al Mayadeen was specifically chosen to publish their story, Ben Jeddou said he believes this goes to "the prisoners' good faith in Al Mayadeen and because they consider [the fact] that the network cares about the Palestinian cause, the Resistance, and the Captive Movement and prisoners," thanking them for their trust.
In this context, Ben Jeddou revealed that "some offered millions to get the true story of the [prisoners'] liberation and did not even expect to get the full story, but the prisoners abstained and chose Al Mayadeen for nothing in return," asserting that "the prisoners who, in this way, sacrificed themselves, do not await financial revenue; they are above accepting such a thing."
He emphasized that "the message from this work to the entire Arab world and free ones in the whole world is that there is an oppressed Palestinian cause that should be always spoken about, and there is a forgotten, marginalized, and oppressed Captive Movement that the world has a duty to shed the light on."
Thus, Ben Jeddou hoped "the relevant authorities in the Resistance adopt this rich and one-of-its-kind story that will be revealed by Al Mayadeen, and turn it into various literary, cinematic, and dramatic works," stressing not only the story itself but also the story of each hero in it.
The teamwork: We promise the audience an amazing work
In turn, a member of the production crew, Abdul Rahman Nassar, promised the audience amazing work, as the story of the prisoners is impressive with its details that reveal an excavation process that lasted for about 9 months.
#TheHeroes, a 6-episode series portraying the story of liberation from one of the "most guarded" occupation prisons, an operation that shook the whole entity of "Israel".— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) September 28, 2022
Make sure to tune in for tomorrow's first episode, at 9:00 PM Al-Quds time.#Palestine pic.twitter.com/4PoAqqAZpM
Nassar explained that "the basic idea of the program is based on the prisoners' true narrative of it. How to narrate and direct the story was agreed upon with the prisoners; each prisoner will talk about a specific part of the work."
The work "will host 33 personalities, part of whom are from the families of the prisoners, and the other part includes Palestinian, Arab and international personalities, in order to give the work an Arab and international resonance," Nassar disclosed.
"The prisoners chose Al Mayadeen Network and gave it an exclusive mandate to transmit the events that took place in detail, and the program will show as many of these details as possible," he confirmed.
He stressed that "this work is primarily documentary and is based on the prisoners' true narrative," noting that "it could pave the way for other works, such as drama, documentary or literary ones."
For her part, the artistic director of the work, Hala Bou Saab, considered that "the importance of this work lies in the storytelling of the heroes, which is like a miracle in our modern history."
Speaking about the direction of the work, she added: "I worked with director Paula Hamalaya to embody the information we received in audio and video, and to present it in an artistic way on the filming site in the Khiam Detention Camp, which carries a special symbol."
"We sought to convey the story realistically, transmitting the most accurate details of the digging process and the liberation [of the prisoners] from prison through graphics, conveying reality as it is," she said.
"This work is a documentation of history," Bou Saab emphasized, wishing any concerned party "to document the heroism of these prisoners, and that this work be a reference for viewers and for any free person in the world who believes in the just cause of Palestine."