Film: 5316

Places + Locations | 1970 | Sound | Colour


Film tracing the work of a Doctor employed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine. Comprehensive documentary of the aftermath of war. 1970's

Intertitle: 'today some three million Palestine Arabs are scattered throughout the Middle East. Half are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). 6000 live in camps'.

Whip pan across a stretch of land with red soil and small trees. No buildings can be seen. Map of the middle east superimposed over it. Pan in to an area named as Aleppo (in the north of Syria). Cut to a small car going down a road through the trees. Camera pans back as it goes past a refugee camp. Intertitle: '9400 live in Neirab camp'. Close up of the driver, a caption announces him as "The camp Doctor, Isaaf Murad. Born 1937, Safad North Palestine". He pulls into the camp. White prefabricated buildings can be seen through the windscreen. He stops outside a dirty prefab with a corrugated metal roof.

Cut to a queue of children and women. They all carry jugs and cans and wait to fill them at a green pipe that comes out of the wall of a building. Inside the building, two men stand around a large vat. A third man wearing a white capella (?) mixes white liquid in a large pot (possibly boiling rice, or milk). Cut back to children outside. Man in white spoons the rice into heated pans. Outside, a young boy fills his jug from the pipe.

Cut to a schoolroom. Many children, aged about five or six sit at individual desks. The Doctor (in a white coat) examines their hair for lice, and their ears, eyes and throats for infections. He asks the young teacher about their general standards of hygiene [with English subtitles]. Five girls are singled out and sent to the front of the classroom. Intertitle: 'All these children were born in the Neirab camp'. Cut back to the Doctor who takes the names of the five girls. He instructs the teacher to send them to the clinic.

Doctor and second man in white coat wander around the camp. They make a 'house call' to an old man with white hair. See the inside of his living quarters. It is dingy and dirty and there appears to be no furniture. Old man sits on a pile of blankets while the Doctor examines him. The two Doctors go to the next house. A woman in a headscarf shows them to the patient. Again, there is no furniture in the room. The mother tells the Doctor that there are four of them who sleep, cook, eat and wash in this room. Two doctors walk through a narrow passage between the stone buildings. Cut to the inside of another building. Camera pans around the window frames, where there are empty bottles of alcohol standing. The walls are painted green and there is an old fashioned wireless radio on the wall. The Doctor examines a young boy.

Intertitle: 'Doctor Murad runs the UNRWA clinic in Neirab six days a week'. Clinic waiting room. Women in headscarves and brightly coloured seventies clothes sit. Lots of coughing can be heard. Inside the consulting room, the Doctor examines a young boy who is accompanied by his old mother. Doctor berates the woman for not keeping her ten children clean enough. Next patient is a young woman who asks for a referral for the dentist. She refuses to let the Doctor look in her mouth while the film is rolling, but the Doctor sharply persuades her. Next patient is a very old woman who complains of aches all over her body, but seems more lonely than anything. Doctor does not seem to treat his female patients with much respect.

Intertitle: 'Doctor Murad with his family at a picnic site'.
The family (his wife and young son who wears red flares) sit at a small table, by sapling trees and an irrigation trench (?). The family walk through a green field.

Cut to "Quneitra in the Golan Hills of Southern Syria'. There is rubble and destroyed buildings stretching for miles. Intertitle: 'Qnueitra was Dr. Murad's first post with UNWRA in 1965'. Close up of Dr. Murad looking out over the desolation. Pan around the rubble, collapsed buildings, and fallen masonry. Caption at bottom of screen, "the UNRWA clinic served 17000 Palestine refugees who were then living in Quneitra and nearby villages". Pan around different scene of destruction, this one more horrible and muddy looking. Caption, "During the June 67 war, Quneitra was occupied by Israel and the refugees fled again, this time to emergency camps in Southern Syria. Dr. Murad was appointed Medical Officer to Dera'a emergency camp".

Intertitle: 'Dera'a. The last remaining tented camp'. Doctor stands in front of a huge area filled with white canvas tents, all very crowded together. He describes the harsh conditions the refugees faced over winter. Shots of various tents.

Intertitle: 'Dr. Murad's patients at Neirab are refugees of the first exodus 1948'. Doctor seated in clinic consulting room. An old man wearing Arab headgear (Burnoose?) enters. Camera pans around the room while he describes his symptoms to the Doctor.

Cut back to the trees and red soil. Map superimposed on the top. Focus on area named Tyre, and the Rashidieh camp. Intertitle: 'in a state of no peace no war across the frontiers of Lebanon and Israel there are many victims on both sides...retaliation and counter retaliation without end'. Shot of a couple wearing large flared trousers, searching in the rubble. Caption, "South Lebanon in the hills". Cut to the inside of a bombed-out house. Various household objects (chairs, radios, curtains etc.) can be seen in the debris. Outside, a black and white photograph lies abandoned in the masonry. Woman in black head-dress picks her way through the broken buildings carrying a blanket. A man curses the Arabs and Israel and laments the death of his sons. Longshot of scene of destruction.

Intertitle: '3400 Palestine refugees lived in Nabatieh camp'. Bulldozer pushes rubble into a large pit. Longshot of bulldozer clearing the ground. There are lots of people around. A woman searches in the rubble and finds a book. She tears the pages from it and discards it. Woman in black makes a pile of mattresses and blankets. Father and son search the remains of their home for possessions. Boy points out where his brother was killed by a falling wall. Boy finds an alarm clock which still works. His father breaks down at the sight of it (poignant scene).

Cut to a funeral procession through a very crowded street. There are two coffins and many mourners (including a man in Arab head-dress).
Intertitle: 'UNRWA rushed in food, blankets and medical supplies. Cost of reconstruction, more than $1000 000.

Shot of brick doorway and door swinging open. Caption, "South Lebanon, by the sea". Old woman in white head scarf leans against a ruined wall. Inside, a man in similar headdress points out a bomb hole in the wall and rails against the war. Pan around the room. Woman in white headscarf and blue dress stands outside her house and talks passionately about the night her husband and first born son were killed by a bomb. Ruined village seen through a bomb hole in an outside wall. No end credits.

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