The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Why Palestinians in East Jerusalem are losing their homes | Start Here – On The Road

Entered in Documentary


Every now and then the story of Palestianians losing their homes in East Jerusalem to Israeli settlers hits the headlines. Sometimes it’s families being evicted from homes they’ve lived in for decades; sometimes it’s Palestinian homes being demolished by the Israeli authorities. The upshot is that space for Palestinians in East Jerusalem is shrinking, while under international law, East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory and is regarded by many in the international community as the capital of a future Palestinian state. 

The objective of this film was to tell the story behind the headlines, to explain what’s going on in East Jerusalem and why Palestinians there are losing their homes. It’s a super complicated story that entwines history, politics, religion and plain bureaucracy. But making complicated stories simple is what Start Here is all about. We’re the flagship explainer strand for Al Jazeera Digital, hosted by Sandra Gathmann. We help people navigate the vast, fast-paced world of international news by breaking down big stories in a way that’s easy to understand and engaging to watch. And that was precisely our objective with this “On The Road” episode from East Jerusalem.


Strategy and Execution

Through three main characters, we explain the history, status and significance  of East Jerusalem; how the eviction and demolition processes usually work; and why long-running cases leave many Palestinians living in a permanent state of limbo and fear. 

The film reveals that ultimately, what’s happening in East Jerusalem fits into a wider pattern of repression that’s aided and abetted by the Israeli state and pro-settler members of the Israeli government. 

This film was conceived and shot before the Hamas attacks on October 7th and the subsequent war in Gaza, but we weren’t able to edit and publish it until December 2023 (largely because we had to divert production capacity to the war in Gaza). This was an extra challenge for us, but at the same time, the film’s objective was to highlight and explain a situation that has persisted for decades.  In doing so, it provides important context about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and the impact on the lives of Palestinians – context that is all the more relevant in light of what’s been happening with the Israel-Gaza war.



The film has garnered more than 370k views on YouTube with an average retention rate of 40%. But it’s not all about the metrics for us. The purpose of this film was to take an important story, that’s also incredibly intricate and complicated, and make it accessible and engaging. It was about highlighting a decades-old injustice and explaining how and why that still goes on. We believe we did that successfully. And as long as that injustice persists, the film will still remain relevant.


Video for Why Palestinians in East Jerusalem are losing their homes | Start Here – On The Road

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Al Jazeera Digital


Entry Credits