Al Jazeera World

The Hundred Million Dollar Home

A Palestinian man stubbornly refuses to sell his Hebron home to Israeli buyers at any price.

Filmmaker: Resad Kulenovic

Located in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, Abdulraouf Al-Mohtaseb’s ancestral home is a short distance from the site where both Muslims and Jews believe the ‘father of the faithful’, Abraham, to be buried. What Muslims call the Ibrahimi Mosque and Jews the Cave of the Patriarchs are built on a cave some 15 metres feet below ground and are where both faiths worship, albeit on different sides of a bulletproof wall.

The Israeli army now maintains around-the-clock checkpoints and barricades that restrict Palestinian movement, separating Hebron’s 270,000 Palestinians from around 1,000 illegal Jewish settlers. This puts Hebron on the front line of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and makes the land and property surrounding the shared holy sites highly valued assets for both sides.

As with generations of his family before him, Abdulraouf al-Mohtaseb has lived close to the Ibrahmi Mosque all his life, through the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars and subsequent Israeli occupation. But even he was surprised when potential buyers began offering him millions for his modest home and souvenir shop. He refused as a matter of principle as the bids gradually increased to a staggering $100m. Still, al-Mohtaseb refused, earning him the nickname ‘the crazy man’ by some of the bidders.

In The Hundred Million Dollar Home, filmmaker Resad Kulenovic tells the story of life in Hebron today through the eyes of al-Mohtaseb and his son, Mohammed. Both firmly abide by the principle that their home is their heritage and must never be sold:

“[Hebron] is beautiful despite all the suffering,” the father tells his son. “If people evicted every area they [the Israelis] besieged, it would be a disaster. We’re staying until God guides us to a solution. That’s our fate.”

The film also includes the perspective of a former Israeli soldier who now works for “Breaking The Silence” which enables Israeli army personnel to recount their experiences and educate the Israeli public about conditions in the occupied territories; as well as a Jewish interfaith activist who emphasises the benefits of honouring the heritage of the three monotheistic religions, both for their similarities and their differences.