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LA STAMPA

Lights, Camera, Hamas: Palestinian Militants Shooting Film

In southern Gaza, A “Hamas Hollywood” is starting taking shape, just in time for Ramadan.

Jerusalem's narrow alleyways were recreated for the film
Jerusalem's narrow alleyways were recreated for the film
Fabio Scuto

KHAN YUNIS — A small group of Orthodox Jews walks in the narrow streets of Jerusalem's old town, protected by Israeli border police armed with M16s. They pass by Arabs who hurl rocks and insults at them. Shopkeepers rush to put their wares away and close up before violence erupts.

This scene isn't real: These streets are not in Jerusalem but in the southern Gaza area of Khan Yunis, which is controlled by the Islamist militia Hamas. A crane rapidly lowers a camera to film the scene. Hamas has built a film set in the abandoned ruins of Ganney-Tal, a former Jewish settlement, for their new TV production called Shhh. Watching TV during the month of Ramadan is a tradition across the Arab world, and the series will go on air on May 27 in time for this year's holy month.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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