Cast members of the hit Israeli series “Fauda” opened up on Friday about the thrills and obstacles filming the show’s third season, now streaming on Netflix, a possible Season 4 and how they’re coping with the government-mandated coronavirus lockdowns in Israel.

Presented bilingually in Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles, “Fauda” tells the story of an elite undercover unit in the Israel Defense Forces with a focus on Israeli agent Doron Kavillio, played by the show’s co-creator, Lior Raz. The last two seasons took place primarily in the West Bank, but in the new one, the action moves to the Gaza Strip.

During a webinar hosted by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) one day after the third season of “Fauda” launched on Netflix, actors Yaakov Zada Daniel, Boaz Konforty and Rona-Lee Shim’on discussed filming Season 3 mostly in Israeli-Arab villages in Israel, but also in Jaffa and in IDF training zones.

Local populations were “unbelievably friendly and cooperative,” according to Konforty, who mentioned the idea of having a tour for “Fauda” fans to see the locations used for filming.

Daniel, who plays Eli, one of the members of the undercover unit in the show, said the IDF helped make the scenes taking place in Gaza as realistic as possible.

“Of course, we cannot get into Gaza, or there would be no Season 3 today or Season 4,” explained Daniel. “But the IDF really helped us and supported us. They gave us helicopters, and we worked together closely. I think we both benefited from this.”

Daniel said his real-life experience as an undercover operative in the IDF is similar to the role he plays; it helped him understand the mindset of his character. He has experienced undercover missions in Israeli-Arab villages, similar to those in the show, but said real missions are quicker—“in and out,” as opposed to lasting days or months in enemy territory.

Konforty, who plays Avihai—a sniper who is part of the counter-terrorist unit in the show—was a tank commander during his IDF service. He said “being in the military, when you come to a series like this, for us things are very, very familiar. It’s like a language that we know, even though it’s not our day-to-day now. But it’s a language we don’t forget. The things that we say to each other, I believe, if someone would listen to our conversations and he was not in the military, he would have to ask for explanations. We didn’t have to ask. We understood what we have to do and the role in a very, very deep way.”

‘We bonded really quickly’

Season 3 of “Fauda” took about three months to film. Regarding a fourth season, Daniel said, “I heard that they are writing something. I hope it will happen. We really want it, and I hope it will happen.”

Shim’on, who plays Nurit, the only woman in the Israeli counter-terrorism unit, said the cast does all their stunts in the show, and their training included how to fire a weapon, Krav Maga and kickboxing. About being the only female among the main characters, she said it was a lot of fun—“we bonded really quickly. I think there are very few moments where I felt like ‘the woman’ with the guys.”

She added, “They tell dirty jokes all the time; we just had a lot of laughs. I know that by now if I call each one of them at like two in the morning and say, ‘I need you, come help me,’ they would. I earned five really amazing big brothers.”

Shim’on said “Fauda” has helped build a bridge between Arabs and Israelis. “The situation we’ve been in for many years has been one of divide. I think it’s hard to humanize the people on the other side for some people, and I think that’s what the show has done. It kind of opened a window to a way there. Of course, we wrote it, and we’re Israelis, and it is from our point of view. But it gave a lot of room that wasn’t there before and just pushed the conversation forward in that sense.”

Shim’on, Konforty and Daniel also reminisced about the last time they were together before being forced to self-quarantine due to the coronavirus. They recalled gathering to watch a few episodes of the latest season, saying they missed spending time together eating, drinking and going out in the evenings in Tel Aviv.

During the lockdown, Shim’on said she is trying to maintain her ballet routine and do yoga, Pilates and meditate. Konforty shared that his two young children, ages 2 and 4, are keeping him busy during the quarantine, while Daniel said he is spending his time cooking, cleaning and writing.

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