News Published 27 July 2011

Jenin Freedom Theatre raided by Israeli Troops

Arrests made at internationally funded arts institution.

Rosanna Hall

Last night it was reported that roughly 50 Israeli Special Forces troops raided the Jenin Freedom Theatre in the Jenin refugee camp on the Northern West Bank, according to members of the theatre.

The Freedom Theatre is often linked to deceased Palestinian- Jewish actor Juliano Mer Khamis whose vision of cultural resistance to Israeli occupation was perhaps behind the motivation for his assassination by unknown gunman outside the theatre last spring.

Ahmad Nasser Matahen, night guard and theatre technician states he was awoken by heavy stone blocks being hurled at the entrance of the theatre by masked and armed Israeli special forces. The location manager Adnan Naghnaghiye and Bilal Saadi, a member of the Board were both arrested and escorted to an unknown location. When the general manager of the theatre, UK born Jacob Gough arrived with the Swedish co-founder Jonatan Stancak they were ordered to squat next to a family with young children surrounded by heavily armed Israeli soldiers.

Stanczak, in recounting the raid to the press stated ‘whenever we tried to tell them they were attacking a cultural venue and arresting members of the theatre we were told to shut up and they threatened to kick us’ he also states that attempts to contact the civil administration of the army in order to clarify the matter were futile.

While the Israeli army has yet to release a comment justifying their attack on an internationally funded cultural institution, Emily Smith, an American photographer working with the Freedom Theatre reported that the Israeli civil administration and army have refused to disclose information regarding the reasons for the raid and whereabouts of the arrested.

In a recent update, Ma’an News Agency reported that the Israeli military confirmed this morning that two people were arrested in Jenin but deny that the theatre was raided by soldiers.

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Rosanna Hall is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

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