Hamas produces its first feature film

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Jerusalem, July 19 (ANI): Hamas has debuted in the field of feature film production this weekend when the action-packed thriller was being screened in Gaza to an exclusive crowd of celebrities.

The film, homage to a top Hamas operative, cost only 200,000 dollars to make and is being shown to segregated audiences of bearded men and veiled women.

"It's Hamaswood instead of Hollywood. We are trying to make quality art that is Islamic and about the resistance, without provocative (sexual) scenes," The Jerusalem Post quoted Gaza's Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad, as saying after the film's first showing Friday evening at Gaza City's Islamic University.

Hamad doubled as producer, and the screenplay was penned by Mahmoud Zahar, the Gaza strongman seen as one of the architects of the group's violent takeover of Gaza two years ago.

Despite his fierce reputation, Zahar, a physician, has always had an artistic streak, with three novels and two screenplays to his credit.

The movie tells the story of Emad Akel, commander of the Hamas military wing, who was killed in a firefight with Israeli troops in Gaza in 1993.

Akel, 23 at the time, was known as "the ghost" for his many disguises, including dressing up as a Jewish settler with a skullcap. In the early 1990s, he topped Israel's wanted list for his suspected role in killing 11 Israeli soldiers, an Israeli civilian and four Palestinian informers in a series of attacks.

In the two-hour movie, titled "Emad Akel," there's plenty of action. The hero frequently leaps out of cars to open fire on Israeli soldiers, prompting bursts of applause from the audience each time. There's no romance, however, and the female actors all wear long robes and headscarves.

The movie was shot over 10 months on a production lot that Hamas hopes will one day grow into a 200 million dollars media city. As part of its media empire, Hamas already operates a Gaza-based satellite television station, a radio station and a dozen news Web sites

Still, Gaza's isolation - its borders have been virtually sealed by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas takeover - are putting a damper on the nascent local film industry. (ANI)

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