Israeli Director to Helm New HBO-Keshet Show About Targeted Assassinations

The first season of the new series, based on Ronen Bergman’s book Rise and Kill First, will focus on the killing of senior Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh

Nirit Anderman
Nirit Anderman
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Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of Hezbollah top commander Imad Mughniyeh, Beirut, Lebanon, February 14, 2008
Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of Hezbollah top commander Imad Mughniyeh, Beirut, Lebanon, February 14, 2008Credit: AP
Nirit Anderman
Nirit Anderman

New York-based Israeli film director Yuval Adler will write and direct the first season of a new Israeli-American series based on the book Rise and Kill First, written by Ronen Bergman, industry publication Deadline reported over the weekend.

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The bestseller, which tells the history of targeted assassinations carried out by Israeli intelligence agencies, was optioned in 2018, a few months after publication, by the U.S. network HBO and Israel's Keshet.

The first season will focus on the joint CIA-Mossad operation to assassinate senior Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh in 2008. The Lebanese-born military commander was assassinated at the age of 46 in a suburb of Damascus, when an explosive device attached to his car went off.

Aside from plane hijackings, kidnappings and attacks against Israel on the Lebanese border, Mughniyeh was known for his involvement in a string of deadly attacks beginning in the early 1980s. He was responsible for the attack on Marine headquarters and the U.S. embassy in Lebanon in 1983. He also planned the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, and of the city’s AMIA Jewish community center two years later.  

The new series is the second partnership between HBO and Keshet International, after Our Boys, created by Hagai Levi, Joseph Cedar and Tawfiq Abu Wael, a controversial dive into the murder of a Palestinian teenager in blind retaliation for the unrelated murder of three young Jewish settlers.

Yuval Adler, December 12, 2019
Yuval Adler, December 12, 2019Credit: Ilya Melnikov

In 2013, Adler’s debut movie Bethlehem won six Ophir awards, the Israeli Oscars, including the one for best film. His second movie, The Operative, a U.S.-European-Israeli co-production, recently came out. It stars Diane Kruger playing a Mossad agent sent on a mission to Iran.

He follows another U.S.-based Israeli, Guy Nattiv, who was also asked to write and direct an American series produced by Keshet. Nattiv, who won an Oscar in 2019 for his short film Skin, will direct Stuntwoman, based on the eponymous book written by Julie Ann Johnson and David Robb. The series will present the story of Johnson, one of the first stuntwomen in the American movie industry. In the 1970s, she became the first female sunt coordinator in Hollywood, having to make her way while fighting the men who tried to hold her back.

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