Death in the Terminal
"When the filmmakers conclude by running the video backward, you may be stunned at how quickly a public place can become a war zone and how easily victims can become victimizers." - Chicago Reader
- International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
- Hot Docs
- Sheffield Doc/Fest
This riveting exposé investigates the scapegoating and mob killing of an Eritrean refugee during a deadly terrorist incident in Israel, and offers a multi-faceted reflection on the cascading nature of violence in a climate of fear and xenophobia.
The events of October 18th, 2015 have been seared into Israel's collective memory, coming as they did during an especially tense period of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Facing a surge in lone-wolf terror attacks targeting Israeli citizens, the government had been looking to civilian vigilance, and praising the common security workforce in the media for its individual heroism in neutralizing threats before they cost lives. Emergency legislation had lifted some barriers for obtaining gun licenses, and many civilians with military experience had been encouraged to carry arms at all times.
Such were the conditions when a disguised Bedouin gunman began shooting at bystanders in an indoor terminal of the Beersheba bus station, killing one and injuring eleven before being shot down by a security guard. During the hectic moments of the shooting, and the panic of fleeing crowds, another attack took place in a different section of the terminal. A young Eritrean refugee, Haptom Zerhom, was wrongly identified, shot by a security guard, and killed by a mob. Captured in its tragic brutality by raw closed-circuit footage and broadcast to the public, the atypical yet telling death of Zerhom - a kind and beloved agricultural worker who had previously escaped wartime atrocities in Eritrea - stunned the Israeli public and triggered its collective conscience. With nothing but his foreignness to distinguish him from the fleeing crowds, Zerhom became a poignant symbol for reflection in an ailing Israeli society, troubled by racism and distressed by omnipresent political violence.
This engrossing, critically-acclaimed documentary juxtaposes the raw footage of Zerhom’s killing alongside first-hand accounts of several eyewitnesses, including some active participants, in Rashomon-esque style; with each witness offering differing interpretations and points of view of the details of the event, as done in the famous 1950 Japanese film. The footage is dissected in detail, offering a breadth of context to consider the subjective experience, emotions, and thought processes that led to error and violence.
Warning: This film contains images that may be disturbing to some viewers.
84 Minutes | Hebrew with English subtitles.
Directed by Tali Shemesh and Assaf Sudry
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