The Israeli occupation of the West Bank now lasts exactly 50 years. With photographer Dirk-Jan Visser and journalist Derk Walters, Scrollytelling made an interactive documentary. The Holy Road is a confrontational road trip through the occupied area, with stories of Israeli and Palestinian residents. The launch coincides with the deployment of Derk Walters through Israel, after three years of correspondence for NRC.

After half a century of occupation, one end is still in sight: still illegal illegal settlements are expanding, even at an increased rate this year. Israel itself does not see the settlements as an obstacle to peace. The outbreaks of this conflict are coming in week, news week: attacks, oppression, territorial and religious disagreement. It is the fragmented repercussion of a constant and increasingly stubborn conflict. But what stories are there?

Makers Dirk-Jan Visser and Derk Walters both lived temporarily in Jerusalem. Visser as freelance photographer and Walters as correspondent for NRC. Derk: “For a long time, I was frustrated that the occupation in individual newspaper articles is so difficult to describe. With this interactive production, we want to experience people who occupy the occupation, both for Palestinians and for Jewish settlers.”

The Holy Road takes you on a road trip through the West Bank on Route 60. This road is also called the ‘holiest road in the world’ because of the many religious highlights for Christians, Muslims and Jews. Others see it as the ‘occupier road’ connecting the illegal settlements. The grid of control is constantly on the road: the partition wall, the many checkpoints and waiting towers, and the different areas that you may or may not like depending on your identity card.

In The Holy Road, the viewer is already intercepted about the contested route 60. Using seven multimedia stories, Visser and Walters give insight into the impact of the occupation on the daily lives of people living here. Of the Jewish settlers in Kiryat Arba, whose 13-year-old daughter was killed by a Palestinian. Butcher Rami, who receives both Israelis and Palestinians in his shop. To stone thrower Tito, demonstrating this week in the week against the Israeli army.

The power of the Israeli authorities is not strange to Derk Walters personally. In three years correspondence, he was repeatedly addressed on his ‘too critical’ report. The situation recently escalated when the Israeli government refused to renew his visa. Walters will be repatriated on 1 June. That has not happened before Dutch journalists. “My expulsion fits into a pattern in which Israel continually tolerates critical message about the occupation. Fortunately, over the past year, I’ve been able to put my energy into The Holy Road, to make the impact of the occupation clearer.”

The web documentary can be viewed at The Holy Road is a production of Prospektor in collaboration with Dirk-Jan Visser and Derk Walters. Development by Scrollytelling. Financially made possible by the Film Fund, Stimulation Fund Creative Industry and Free Press Unlimited.

About Scrollytelling

Scrollytelling enables storytellers to create online stories. We do this using our Software-as-a-Service which is offered in the form of a subscription. To our customers, we offer unprovoked editorial feedback, ensuring all stories are told in the most appealing way.

The company launched in January 2016. Its founders Martijn van Tol and Joost Baaij are an unstoppable internet storytelling engine. Or a tank, maybe. Since launch, they have reached over 3 million souls worldwide. On average, one story is created every day. Most stories have images, words and video and a great many have background audio tracks too. The only limit is in the imagination of the storyteller. Visit the contact page if you want to reach out to us.