Doron, an Israeli counter-terrorism operative, is the pivot of this Israeli drama. He goes undercover to chase a Hamas militant. In season three, Doron’s actions land Bashar, a young Palestinian, in trouble. Bashar must then prove his loyalty to the Palestinian cause.
In war, the innocent suffer most
The most frequent criticism of Fauda has been that for a show based on the Israel-Palestine conflict, it depicts only one side of the story. In its third season, the makers have attempted to rectify this slightly. The rhetoric still remains largely pro-Israeli, but there is a conscious effort to highlight the plight of the Palestinian people, majorly those who play no part in this violent conflict.
The season begins with trigger-happy hero Doron Kabilio (Lior Raz) undercover as Abu Fadi, a boxing coach in the Palestinian village of Dhahiriya in the West Bank. His mission is to nab Fauzi Hamdan (Amir Khatib), a Hamas operative in the region who is planning an attack on Israel (If you’ve watched the first two seasons of Fauda, you know there’s always someone planning an attack on Israel). Doron coaches Bashar Hamdan (Ala Dakka), Fauzi’s first cousin and a promising boxer. Over time the two have grown close and Bashar looks up to Doron as a father figure. Bashar’s father Jihad Hamdan (Khalifa Natour), meanwhile, is a former Palestinian fighter who has just been released after serving 20 years in Israeli prison.
When Doron kills Fauzi one night, Bashar’s proximity to him comes under the scanner. It is insinuated that Bashar was aiding Doron, and he’s branded a traitor. This is the central premise of the season. Doron has set in motion a chain of events that will change the Hamdan family’s lives forever. A perfectly innocent 20-year-old is now embroiled in a war that he never wished to be a part of. Bashar and Jihad are now on the run to escape the Palestinian forces. To prove their loyalty to the Palestinian cause, they abduct a couple of Israeli teenagers, which means the Israelis are now after them. Back home, Bashar’s mother and sister are routinely harassed by the Israeli forces.
The season packs its finer moments when it portrays the suffering that arises from this hate-fuelled conflict. While the innocent certainly bear the brunt, those in the thick of the war have their share of misery too. Doron is so absorbed in his profession that his family life suffers. He now only sees his children at supervised visitation centres and his son Ido (Mel Malka) has grown to detest him. This is the price one pays to be an operative. Avihai (Boaz Konforty), the sniper in Doron’s special ops unit, is plagued with guilt after he accidentally shoots his own teammate dead during an operation. The team, which is a close-knit group as we’ve seen in the previous seasons, struggles to cope with the death of one of their own. Whether it’s the Hamdans’ plight, the two kidnapped teenagers or the afflictions of Doron and his teammates, the events that ensue in this season beg the question, is this conflict really necessary? Decades of hatred only seem to bring more agony to both the factions.
The action moves to Gaza
After basing two seasons in the West Bank, Fauda ventures into Gaza in its third season when Bashar and Jihad escape to the strip. The makers have done a tremendous job in showing Gaza visually. It has all the Palestinian elements from the West Bank settlements, but with evident poverty. Life here is different from the West Bank. Electricity is available barely for a few hours a day here. Fauda has always been a beautifully shot show. In this season, the makers have done away with their trademark style of showing aerial shots as if they’re live feed from a surveillance drone.
The Gaza segment of the season keeps you hooked because you know how high the stakes are here. This is a different ball game for Doron and co. While the Israelis can freely move around most of West Bank, Gaza is a Hamas stronghold where they aren’t welcome. Entering the strip is a potential suicide mission. They don’t have backup at their disposal here. If you’re found, there’s no way out.
The show steers away from the complexities of the conflict
The season ticks all boxes that are needed to make a riveting action thriller – a gripping storyline, a healthy dose of high octane action and wonderful camerawork. Fauda had already set the bar high with its slick action sequences. This season outdoes the previous ones on this front. Almost every episode contains a cut-throat operation or a heroic rescue mission that leaves you awestruck.
Disappointingly, the show doesn’t get into the complex politics of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It chooses to focus solely on the ground zero, operational side of the war. At the end of the day, Fauda doesn’t offer a layered story. The makers unapologetically aim at serving up a fast-paced action thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat, with the action being its ultimate selling point. The conflict serves merely as a rich backdrop here.
WATCH OR NOT
The third season of Fauda is its strongest one yet as it paints a picture of the suffering that arises from the Israel-Palestine conflict on both sides, all while keeping up the action.
Director: Rotem Shamir
Writers: Michal Aviram, Avi Issacharoff, Lior Raz
Cast: Lior Raz, Marina Maximilian Blumin, Ala Dakka, Khalifa Natour, Itzik Cohen
Language: Hebrew, Arabic (with English subtitles)
Streaming on: Netflix