In the Holy City

Directed by

Karl Barayev

Produced by

German Orfanov
Yellow Peril Entertainment

Written by

Grigoriy Volenkov
Tarik Falafelov

Release date

April 1, 2009


Tanya Kalinina
Arya Nukova
Yordana Puevskaya
Samara Tilnova
Hafimwahlid Talnaev
and Conrada Cortesova


m65.1 million

Box office income



109 minutes


Margovyan National Pictures
Yellow Peril Entertainment

In the Holy City is a 2009 Margovyan action film directed by Karl Barayev and starring Tanya Kalinina, Arya Nukova, Yordana Puevskaya, Samara Tilnova, Hafimwahlid Talnaev, and Conrada Cortesova. It follows the fictional story of four women in the Israel Defense Forces, but draws on real-life events occurring within the State of Israel, especially within the capital city of Jerusalem.

The film is also noted for having partly predicted the 2011 Arab spring, the Libyan and Syrian civil wars, and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.


A platoon of IDF soldiers, led by Lieutenant Perle Roth (Elsa Farber) is on patrol in Israel-occupied Golan Heights when they come under attack from unknown forces. A small four-person unit under the command of Sergeant Esther Livyatan (Tanya Kalinina) gets separated from the rest of the platoon and has to fend off wave after wave of insurgent attacks before the rest of the platoon finally manages to break through the enemy lines and rescue the trapped and besieged unit. For their gallant and heroic actions in the face of ultimate adversity, Sergeant Livyatan and her unit are awarded the Medal of Courage, the second-highest decoration in Israel.

The film then goes through a montage of events that occurred in the four years between the prologue and the rest of the film. It shows the citizens of Israel's neighboring countries such as Syria and Egypt rising up and overthrowing their countries' respective "dictators," but while Egypt's new government has stabilized the country and has become an unprecedented ally of Israel, the situation in Syria has deteriorated to the point that there is now a full-blown civil war in the country, with forces loyal to Damascus fighting against a growing Islamist rebel force known only as "the Caliphate."

After the montage, the film jumps to four years after the events in the prologue. In an unprecedented diplomatic move, the president of Egypt is going to visit Jerusalem as part of a diplomatic visit to Israel which will cement an alliance between the two nations. The IDF increases the number of troops patrolling Jerusalem in preparation for the Egyptian President's arrival. Sayeed Thabeeti (Hafimwahlid Talnaev) observes the movements of the IDF in preparation for an attack. Thabeeti is not affiliated with any terrorist organization, but he is a Palestine sympathizer wants to attack the IDF because of its recent actions in the West Bank. Thabeeti's older brother Usman (Farhad Talnaev), who was crippled in a bombing claimed by the PLO warns against the attack but Sayeed refuses to be swayed.

On the day before the Egyptian president's arrival, Corporal Judith Dayan (Yordana Puevskaya) is attacked by a man wielding a knife. Dayan's arm gets slashed before Sergeant Livyatan shoots the knife attacker dead. As Dayan receives treatment for her wounds, Thabeeti observes the proceedings from his apartment balcony, but this is interrupted by the arrival of his sister Mansoura (Miryam Farukova), who is revealed to have joined the IDF. Sayeed and Mansoura get into an argument because of that with Mansoura saying that she joined the IDF to foil Sayeed's plot to attack the army because he won't be sure if the unit he targets in his attack will be Mansoura's unit.

The Egyptian president's diplomatic visit to Jerusalem is successful in the sense that there were no attacks on him or the Israeli government. The IDF winds down their security arrangements in Jerusalem, and Sergeant Livyatan's unit is reassigned back to the disputed border with Syria in the Golan Heights as part of their border patrol rotation. During a night patrol, a car approaches their border station. Livyatan judges that the car is on a suicide mission and authorizes her fire team to open fire on the car. The car's occupants get out and return fire but the Israelis have more accurate fire and eventually gun down every last terrorist.

Livyatan and the fire team's machine gunner Rebekah Karnstein (Arya Nukova) inspect the car and discover that the driver is still alive, but barely. The driver reveals that he is an "Institute" agent named Yaakov Rabinovich (Boris Sorbariyev) who has infiltrated the Syrian rebel organization known only as "the Caliphate". His mission for the Caliphate was to drive the suicide car into the Israeli border and blow it up, clearing the way for a Caliphate invasion force to pour into Israeli territory. Rabinovich begs Livyatan and Karnstein to let him continue his real mission of disrupting the Caliphate's plans of invading Israel by turning his car back towards the invasion force, which the two soldiers agree to do, albeit reluctantly. Barely clinging to life, Rabinovich drives his car towards the Caliphate invaders and detonates the car bomb. Before he dies, he sees a mysterious veiled figure beside him in the car who holds his hand and appears to take him away.

In Tel Aviv, Rabinovich's sister Maryam (Klaudia Glaser) is personally informed of Yaakov's death by the director of "The Institute", Yonatan Lieberman (Vasily Borisov). Lieberman allows Maryam to mourn for her brother, but Maryam insists on going back into Syria and finishing what her brother started inside the Caliphate. Lieberman reluctantly agrees to this, but before he leaves, he reminds Maryam that she must not let her brother's work go to waste.

The head of the Libyan Intelligence Service secretly flies into Jerusalem for a clandestine meeting with Lieberman to discuss ways in which the Libyans could deal with the supporters of the Caliphate in the country. After the meeting, as the Libyan intelligence chief is being escorted through the city by undercover IDF soldiers, a car bomb detonates alongside the Libyan chief's car, killing him and the two other occupants instantly. The dead Israelis are later revealed to be Lieutenant Roth and Private Mansoura Thabeeti.

Sergeant Livyatan goes to the Thabeetis' apartment to inform them of Mansoura's death in action. Sayeed does not take the news well and goes on a rant against the IDF and Israel, claiming that they are the ones responsible for his sister's death. After Livyatan leaves, however, it is revealed that it was Sayeed who planted the bomb that killed the Libyan intelligence chief, Lieutenant Roth, and Mansoura. Sayeed and Usman get into an argument about Sayeed's desire to kill more Israeli soldiers despite the fact that it was his bomb that killed Mansoura and Usman eventually suffers a fatal heart attack during the argument, which only goads Sayeed even further down his path of revenge.

Three men and two women arrive in Jerusalem at the same time that Jewish, Christian, and Muslim pilgrims arrive to the city in massive numbers. These five individuals have been tasked by the Caliphate to sow terror throughout Jerusalem as revenge on the Israelis foiling the Caliphate's attempted invasion of the Jewish state. Maryam Rabinovich appears to coordinate their activities, but as the IDF begins apprehending the would-be terrorists (due to the Jerusalem attack being leaked to "the Institute" by Maryam), she kills the two terrorists who has seen her face directly: a young boy and a pregnant woman. As Maryam makes to make a quiet exit away from the scene, she is shot many times by Sayeed, who has finally snapped and is staging his own attack on Jerusalem. As Maryam lays dying, a pilgrim wearing a pink veil (Conrada Cortesova) bends over her before assuming the form of Maryam's brother Yaakov, who tells Maryam that it's time for them to go home.

Sayeed goes on a rampage throughout the streets of Jerusalem before he is finally confronted by Sergeant Livyatan's unit. The pilgrim with the pink veil stands between the soldier and the terrorist and doesn't move out of the line of fire despite Livyatan's commands. Instead, the pilgrim approaches both Sayeed and Esther at the same time and touches their foreheads. Sayeed faints after the pilgrim touches him, while Esther falls back into the arms of her squad. When asked what she saw when the pilgrim touched her, Esther appears shaken and refuses to divulge her vision, which she claims "could destroy lives". Sayeed is arrested and is eventually committed to a mental hospital after begins ranting and raving about "a pink doom". When investigators look through CCTV footage to identify the pilgrim who touched Livyatan and Sayeed and seemingly defused the whole situation, they can find no evidence of the pilgrim in the videos altogether, and both Livyatan and Sayeed appear to fall back on their own accord. The IDF announces a reward for any information regarding the Pilgrim's identity, and while numerous people can attest to the presence of the pilgrim during the standoff, all the information submitted to the IDF yields nothing, and the identity of "the Pilgrim" remains a mystery.