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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le directeur du "Théâtre de la Liberté" assassiné à Jénine

by (name of journalist not indicated)

Director of ‘The Freedom Theatre’ assassinated in Jenin

Translated Tuesday 12 April 2011, by Shelagh Rothero and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Juliano Mer-Khamis, the Israeli-Palestinian director of the Jenin Freedom Theatre in the north of the West Bank, was assassinated on the afternoon of Monday 4th April by a group of armed men in the town refugee camp.

A group of unidentified gunmen opened fire on the vehicle owned by film-maker and political activist Juliano Mer-Khamis, who counted himself both ‘Jewish and Palestinian’, hitting him five times, disclosed the Jenin Chief of Police, Mohammad Tayim. According to witnesses, he was assassinated by two masked gunmen. “He was brought down by a masked gunman who fired five shots through the window of his vehicle”, explained Qaddoura Moussa, Governor of Jenin, observing that a woman from Bethlehem had received a hand wound from the shots.

“We haven’t arrested anyone yet but we have joined with the Palestinian security services to investigate his murder and hope to have some answers soon”, he stated, adding that as far as he was aware, the actor had not received any ’death threats’.

The victim was director of the Freedom Theatre, founded in the Jenin refugee camp by his mother, Arna Mer (1930-1995), Palestinian rights campaigner, along with her son, and married to Saliba Khamis, an Arab-Israeli, leader of the Israeli communist party. ‘The Theatre of Stones’ was originally founded during the first Intifada (1987-1993). For Arna Mer, dedicated peace activist, it was a means of creating a special area where children could escape from the violence of the conflict and the occupation. It was destroyed in 2002 during an operation conducted by the Israeli army against armed Palestinians but was rebult in 2006 under the name ‘Freedom Theatre’ thanks to Juliano Mer-Khamis, producer of the documentary ‘Arna’s Children’. He was supported by Zakaria Zoubeïdi, local leader of a Palestinian armed group, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which had carried out anti-Israeli operations at the time. Zakaria Zoubeïdi announced on the Israeli channel 10 that ’everyone in the refugee camp loved it’.

But the theatre was not unilaterally accepted in Jenin. There had been attempts to burn it down, with Juliano Mer-Khamis maintaining that in the past he himself had been threatened. The most recent production at the theatre has been ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

That Monday evening in Ramallah, about fifty artists assembled in the central square to denounce this assassination and to pay homage to the victim whose death was ‘a great loss to Palestine’

Recommended link, Les enfants de Jénine parmi nous (French language article)

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