Soldier on the Roof

Esther Hertog

Documentary about the tense daily life of a Jewish enclave in Hebron, where 800 colonists live among their 120,000 Palestinian neighbours.

The ancient West Bank city of Hebron is a holy place for Jews, Muslims and Christians. There’s a small Jewish enclave at the centre of Hebron’s oldest neighbourhood, where countless Israeli soldiers are posted on the rooftops to protect 800 settlers from their 120,000 Palestinian neighbours. The filmmaker regularly lived among the orthodox Jewish families for three years, and paints a picture of their daily lives - lives that are marked by constant conflicts. These small local problems all boil down to one fundamental question: who has territorial rights to the area? Intimate interviews with Hebron’s Jewish settlers reveal how determined they are to stay here: mothers and children make signs to protest the presence of the Palestinian population, who they often describe as ‘terrorists’. One running gag in the film centres on a resident who paints important religious sites. As he poses with his works next to the now damaged or inaccessible buildings to explain their significance, he is constantly interrupted by soldiers or passers-by. Time and time again, he accepts his fate with comic resignation and stoic determination.

In November 2012 at IDFA, Soldier on the Roof won the award for best debut as well as the Dioraphte Award for Best Dutch Documentary.


Esther Hertog
Harry de Winter, Erica Reijmerink
Country of production
Netherlands, The
80 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
Sarphati Media