Season 3 of “Fauda” finds Israeli Defense Force member Doron Kavillio (series star Lior Raz) working undercover in the Gaza Strip, as the Netflix series continues its dramatization of the ongoing (and deadly) Arab-Israeli conflict.
Doron is embedded in a Palestinian town, where, as boxing coach Abu Fadi, he’s ostensibly mentoring up-and-coming boxer Bashar Hamdan (Ala Dakka). Doron’s real mission: to bring down Hamas terrorist Abu Fauzi (Amir Hativ).
While Season 3 of “Fauda” (which means “chaos” in Hebrew) changes locales to Gaza from the West Bank (Seasons 1 and 2), Raz says the series couldn’t shoot there. “We cannot get into the Gaza Strip as Israelis,” he tells The Post. “It’s too dangerous and it’s prohibited. It’s kind of a different country.” So, in order to make everything look as realistic as possible, Raz and series co-creator Avi Issacharoff had to get creative.
“It was a big challenge for us to find a location that looks like Gaza,” Raz says. “It’s a different landscape from the West Bank — it’s much more crowded and it’s near the sea. We did two things: we shot in a place called Jisr az-Zarqa, which is an Arab/Israeli village and is near Haifa, on the beach.
“And the Israeli army has a camp they built to look like a neighborhood in Gaza for training soldiers,” says Raz, 48, who served as a commando in an elite Israeli counter-terrorism unit. “So they gave us the use of this camp for shooting ‘Fauda’ and we brought a lot of extras there. It was like a studio and was empty. There was nobody there except a bunch of nice soldiers.”
It’s been nearly two years since Season 2 of “Fauda” premiered on Netflix (it originates on Israel’s Yes network), but Raz says the gap won’t effect fans of the show or casual viewers. “We’re not thinking about that so much,” he says. “[Season 3] is a standalone season, so people can watch it as the first season.
“And I think [Season 3] it’s a much darker season,” he says. “It’s an emotional journey for Doron that’s stronger than the other seasons. Another thing: Doron is the hero but he’s losing all the time. He never wins, and in Season 3 he will lose so many things while he tries to do what he thinks is best for him, for Israel, for his team and for Bashar, who’s a great character.
“Doron has (figuratively) lost his family and his son, who doesn’t want to talk to him anymore,” he says. “He has Bashar, who becomes like a son to him, but he’s losing him, too.”
That, in turn, raises the subject of how “Fauda” is perceived among Israeli and Arab viewers.
“Because we’re trying to portray both sides of the story in the same way … it’s very unique, because I don’t know of many TV shows doing that,” Raz says. “You see their lives and needs and their love in their natural surroundings. I think this is kind of the magic of the series and why people from all over are watching. I know many Arabs from Israel who love the show — this is the first time we’ve honored their language, since you have a show in which 60 percent of it is in Arabic. You don’t see that anywhere.
“But, for sure, I know people from the Arab community, Palestinians, who don’t love the show because they think we’re glorifying the Israelis and the soldiers’ unit and taking their side,” he says. “But I say to people all the time that I’m Israeli and can write as an Israeli. Me and Avi [Issacharoff] can try to understand and write about Palestinian characters but we are not Palestinians.”
Raz, whose next TV project is the Netflix series “Hit and Run,” shot in both Israel and in New York City, says he and Issacharoff have started writing Season 4 of “Fauda.” But, he says, adapting the series for an American version has posed a challenge.
“It’s now [been adapted] in India and England,” he says “We had a lot of offers in the US but didn’t think they were good enough, creatively. In the beginning, when we made ‘Fauda’ and it was a big success in Israel, I thought my goal was going to have a US remake like [original Israeli series] ‘Homeland’ or ‘In Treatment’ — then I understood the power of Netflix and people watching the original.
“They watch it all over the world and we don’t have to remake it,” he says, “because they can watch the original in any language they want.”