February 16, 2017 – B’Tselem released a new interactive documentary entitled “The Invisible Walls of Occupation”. Viewers are invited on a virtual tour of the Palestinian village of Burqah, a rural suburb of the city of Ramallah that has become cut off from its urban center through various restrictions imposed by Israel. The documentary has Burqah residents leading viewers on a virtual tour of their village. The project depicts the story of the village and illustrates various aspects of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation. The project was co-produced by B’Tselem and Canadian digital studio Folklore, and is based on a B’Tselem report by the same name.
The computer technology specially developed for this project creates a world that is a cross between a video game and a documentary film. In 2015, the project received two Quebec digital industry Boomerang Awards, one for best non-profit website and the other for best technology.
Production and script: Osnat Skoblinski, journalist. She has been creating digital content for B’Tselem since 2012.
Graphic design and web development: Folklore (Canada), which creates interactive projects for cultural institutions, museums, and non-profits.
Author of the report The Invisible Walls of Occupation: Naama Baumgarten-Sharon
Stills photography: Oren Ziv, activestills.org
Research, editing, footage, and video editing: B’Tselem
Background on the village of Burqah, from B’Tselem’s report The Invisible Walls of Occupation:
The Palestinian village of Burqah in the West Bank is rather unremarkable. It has never taken center stage in the fight against the occupation, and has not been subjected to extreme punitive measures. In fact, we chose to focus on Burqah precisely because it is unexceptional, as a case in point demonstrating what life under the occupation is like for residents of Palestinian villages. It is a small, picturesque village, surrounded by fields. Like many other villages, it endures severe travel restrictions which isolate it from its surroundings. It is also subject to massive land-grabs and stifling planning, all of which have turned it into a derelict, crowded and backward village with half its population living at or below the poverty line.
Burqah residents may live in Area B, but despite the illusion created when powers were transferred to the Palestinian Authority, Israel’s full control of Area C means it has the power to influence many aspects of life in Areas A and B, even allowing it to freeze the day-to-day routine of Palestinians living in those areas. The closure of roads leading into the village has greatly limited residents’ access to employment, medical services, shopping centers, medical services, institutions of higher education, and leisure facilities. They are forbidden from accessing about a third of their farmland. Area C includes not only farmland, but also almost all the land reserves for future development of the village. Barring Palestinians access to this land has created a severe housing shortage. These issues affect every aspect of life in the village. Burqah is a case in point, demonstrating how the settlements and their interests play a central role in Israel’s policy planning in the West Bank, even at the cost of grave harm to the Palestinian residents, and how a legal-administrative web stifles a village, life and development. The Israeli authorities always put the interests of the settlers and the settlements before those of the Palestinian population. Although the settlements are unlawful in themselves, Israel allocates a great deal of resources to developing them and protecting their residents, while doing everything in its power to block Palestinian development.
B’TSELEM – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories was established in February 1989 by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members. It endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel. www.btselem.org