Jenin Freedom Theatre raided in the middle of the night by Israeli military

on 54 Comments
Damage to the Freedom Theatre (Photo: Emily Smith)

The following press release was sent out by the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp:

Special Forces of the Israeli Army attacked the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp at approximately 03:30 this morning. Ahmad Nasser Matahen, a night guard and technician student at the theatre woke up by heavy blocks of stone being hurled at the entrance of the theatre.

As he opened the door he found masked and heavily armed Israeli Special Forces around the theatre. Ahmed says that the army threw heavy blocks of stone at the theatre, “they told me to open the door to the theatre. They told me to raise my hands and forced me to take my pants down. I thought my time had come, that they would kill me. My brother that was with me was handcuffed.“

The location manager of The Freedom Theatre, Adnan Naghnaghiye was arrested and taken away to an unknown location together with Bilal Saadi, a member of the board of The Freedom Theatre. When the general manager of the theatre Jacob Gough from UK and the co-founder of the theatre Jonatan Stanczak from Sweden arrived to the scene they were forced to squat next to a family with four small children surrounded by about 50 heavily armed Israeli soldiers.

Jonatan says: “Whenever we tried to tell them that they are attacking a cultural venue and arresting members of the theatre we were told to shut up and they threatened to kick us, I tried to contact the civil administration of the army to clarify the matter but the person in charge hung up on me.“

54 Responses

  1. rosahill
    July 27, 2011, 9:10 am

    Phone calls to the Israeli embassy are in order. 202.364.5500. Why are they attacking cultural institutions? The Freedom Theatre has struggled to recover from the murder of its founder, Juliano Mer Khamis, in April by a lone assassin. It has a production in rehearsal and two foreign tours planned or underway. Now the IDF has targeted its board members and staff for a midnight raid. Is theater illegal in the apartheid state? Or maybe just illegal for Palestinians.

    • deb83
      July 27, 2011, 10:53 am

      If anyone has any clue how to get a person to listen please respond. I just got hung up on twice. Once after talking to the Consulars office who told me to write a letter, her office had nothing to do with it and she did not know what office did and hung up on me. I then called back and the Ambassadors dept. They just disconnected me after leaving me hanging.

      • rosahill
        July 28, 2011, 8:41 am

        Try the public affairs extension

  2. seafoid
    July 27, 2011, 9:25 am

    “Special Forces of the Israeli Army attacked the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp at approximately 03:30 this morning. ”

    Wow.They’ll be really good in a real war. Theatres are worse than tanks.

    • richb
      July 27, 2011, 9:58 am

      You know how deadly grease paint is, don’t you? Maybe it was the colored spotlight gels. I guess that’s also what the IDF was afraid of with the Juliano in the Flotilla because we know the army is really, really tough. Why else would you need 50 special forces to make two arrests and guard four small children?

      • Pamela Olson
        July 27, 2011, 1:44 pm

        Maybe they were trying to get rid of evidence. I’ll leave it at that.

      • richb
        July 27, 2011, 3:35 pm

        I currently have your book on my Kindle and am about halfway through. I am really enjoying it.

      • Pamela Olson
        July 27, 2011, 9:10 pm

        Thanks, Rich, very glad to hear it :)

  3. richb
    July 27, 2011, 9:35 am

    As many here are well aware of the co-founder of the theatre, Juliano Mer Khamis, was murdered. Here is the film, Arna’s Children, he did about his mother who founded the theatre:

    link to

    Note that purchasing the DVD (link provided at the site above) helps support the theatre.

  4. Woody Tanaka
    July 27, 2011, 9:51 am

    Like the KKK, the IDF raids at night. Bastards.

  5. PissedOffAmerican
    July 27, 2011, 9:58 am

    “Why are they attacking cultural institutions?”

    Because they can, without fear of any repercussions or censure from their financiers in the United States Congress, the State Department, and the Oval Office.

    If they can target American citizens engaged in peaceful protest without criticism or note by our State Department, then what do they have to fear about conduting these kinds of Gestapo like raids on the Palestinians?

    The check is in the mail, no matter what they do. The mistake our “leaders” are making, is underestimating the depth of knowledge that is being bestowed upon the American populace by the “new media”. Our “leaders” financing and cow-towing to fascism and racism in Israel is no longer being conducted under the radar. People are beginning to take note. It will take some time, but at long last the megaphone and hasbara campaigns are loosing their upper hand.

    • mig
      July 27, 2011, 10:40 am

      “these kinds of Gestapo like raids on the Palestinians?”

      ++++ I think that it was Norman Finkelstein who give more accurate description to name these, he called them ” Kosher jugend”.

    • Daniel Rich
      July 27, 2011, 4:52 pm

      Hi POA,

      Q: Because they can, without fear of any repercussions or censure from their financiers in the United States Congress, the State Department, and the Oval Office.

      R: I think it is unfair to single out the US, although it cannot be denied, but it has always amazed me how this so called ‘civilized world’ [all of them] have remained so silent for so long.

  6. Cliff
    July 27, 2011, 11:22 am

    Fascist thugs. IDF and Zionism at work.

  7. eljay
    July 27, 2011, 11:25 am

    Wow, the IDF sure knows how to “humanize ‘the Other'” and “make ‘better wheels'”!

    I wonder if this is just part of Israel’s campaign to acquire “enough theater”…

  8. anne silver
    July 27, 2011, 11:35 am

    A few more details about this IOF viciousness are here. The article includes some words about the baffling event from the theater’s manager. link to

    • richb
      July 27, 2011, 12:02 pm

      “It doesn’t make any sense,” Cough told The Palestine Monitor. “If it’s about Juliano’s murder, everyone in the theatre been cooperating with the Palestinian Authority, answering their questions. But these were Israelis. This is Area A. It’s supposed to be under Palestinian control. If they want to talk with us, call us. Don’t raid our buildings.”

      Whatever your predisposition on one versus two states this shows what’s most important. Whatever the boundary of Palestine is it must be a sovereign state with no Israeli security forces within her borders and any exceptions should be treated as what it is, an act of war.

      • eljay
        July 27, 2011, 12:34 pm

        >> >> This is Area A. It’s supposed to be under Palestinian control. If they want to talk with us, call us. Don’t raid our buildings.

        “Live #AND# let live”!

  9. justicewillprevail
    July 27, 2011, 11:38 am

    There is a special quality of vindictiveness and loathing in Israel’s deliberate attacks on Palestinian cultural institutions. There is no reason for it, except one of deliberate, considered attempts to wipe Palestinian civil society off the map. Israel, in its malevolent resentful barbaric way sees Palestinian society and its peaceful institutions as a mocking testimony against the Israeli lie that ‘there is no such thing as Palestine’. Any evidence of Palestinian history and their ties to the land are to be demolished and denied, blitzkrieged, bulldozed – both as extinction of their society and the evidence for it. There is a unique cruelty which is quite despicable to Israel’s actions – the small amount of pleasure and solidarity that social institutions can generate, peaceful and utterly unthreatening – cannot be tolerated by the commissars and bureaucrats of sadism and supremacism. Palestinian people cannot be allowed the smallest of pleasure or relief from the daily hell israel wishes to inflict on them until they give up. What other society has inhuman cruelty running through it so deeply – Japan during WW2, China in Tibet, Burma to the monks? Israel is trying to outdo them all, and is sick to the core.

  10. Fredblogs
    July 27, 2011, 12:53 pm

    Apparently they were after someone in the theater, not the building itself. Assuming this was the only operation they did at the time.

    “The Israeli military confirmed that it had arrested ‘wanted Palestinians’ during an operation in Jenin, but declined to say who it had arrested or why.”

    link to

    • kapok
      July 27, 2011, 1:22 pm

      “not the building itself” Fred C Dobbs, you’re my goto guy for what I call Heisenberg’s “Plausibility Principle’. Yes, of course, it had nothing to do with the building.

    • Woody Tanaka
      July 27, 2011, 1:26 pm

      “Apparently they were after someone in the theater, not the building itself.”

      Yeah, sure. Throwing heavy blocks of stone against the building itself is TOTALLY consistant with the tales told by the military about “wanted Palestinians”…

      • Fredblogs
        July 27, 2011, 2:58 pm

        I didn’t say there wasn’t damage to the building. Seems like vandalism to me. My point is that the vandalism was a separate issue from the arrest. If it turns out to be true that the soldiers did it, then the soldiers should be prosecuted.

      • mig
        July 27, 2011, 3:54 pm

        ” If it turns out to be true that the soldiers did it, then the soldiers should be prosecuted.”

        ++++ And we all know what that means. Naughty boy, now go back to your unit and continue.

      • Mooser
        July 27, 2011, 5:48 pm

        “If it turns out to be true that the soldiers did it, then the soldiers should be prosecuted.”

        Yes, Freddie, there’s an overwhelming probability the Palestinians did it just to embarrass the IDF.
        And of course, your brave declaration that “the soldiers should be prosecuted” convinces me that any objections I might ever have to Israeli intransigence should be discarded. What integrity you have!

      • Fredblogs
        July 27, 2011, 6:29 pm

        Did what? From the description, it seems to be vandalism. From the picture, there’s just a lot of debris around. The entrance is apparently glass doors, so how do you throw a cinder-block at a glass door without breaking the glass? I don’t see any cracked tiles or dents in the wood in the picture.

        Maybe there is more evidence than that one picture, but we haven’t seen it here yet. So where is the evidence that any throwing actually happened as opposed to the cinder-block parts being left over from some construction project? Or dumped there by someone else, not to vandalize, but just to get rid of them? So some Palestinians are willing to commit terrorist attacks, 3/10 of them support stabbing Jewish babies to death in their bed, but none of them would ever lie and say that Israelis threw debris at a theater if they didn’t?

        link to

      • ToivoS
        July 27, 2011, 7:16 pm

        Sorry Freddie, the IDF lies. That is thoroughly documented that nothing they say can be believed.

      • Fredblogs
        July 27, 2011, 9:17 pm

        Palestinians and their supporters lie too, so nothing they say can be believed either. Therefore, it comes down to evidence. Provide evidence. If the building was damaged, surely there must be some pictures of the damage. Something more impressive than some scattered pieces of cinder-block that you’d find around any construction site. Where did they come from? Is there construction going on in the theater or around it? Because that looks more like the aftermath of a contractor than a vandal.

      • Chaos4700
        July 28, 2011, 12:19 am

        “Show me pictures or it didn’t happen.” You and Holocaust deniers sing the same refrain, Fred.

      • Cliff
        July 28, 2011, 2:13 am

        3/10 of Palestinians? That question really should be clarified. And it does not represent Palestinian society.

        Settlers attack Palestinians every single day with impunity, protected by the thugs in the IDF. It’s not surprising that a portion of Palestinians society is enraged enough to approve of such an attack.

        Considering that while a fraction of Palestinians have carried out such attacks, and a further fraction of Palestinians have approved them, I’m not worried.

        I mean, on a much larger scale, Israeli Jews supported the Gaza massacre. Israelis interviewed on a hill overlooking Gaza, possibly in S’Derot, wanted Gaza to be wiped out.

        The point of these polls should be to prove some systematic racism in the respective societies. And in that regard, Palestinians are much less racist and more patient than their Israeli counterparts. There are polls for that too.

      • Cliff
        July 28, 2011, 2:20 am

        The IDF has zero credibility and Yesh Din studies show that it has virtually no accountability either.

        Why should anyone trust the IDF over a Palestinian civilian under occupation?

        And your hypothetical scenarios are really hilarious. There are plenty – PLENTY – of examples of IDF vandalism and abuse, yet you’re stretching yourself to explain this situation. Maybe it IS just vandalism, but you need to provide some context for your speculation.

        Since, your only response was to show a poll of Palestinian attitudes about Itamar, I’ll take that as a non-answer/refusal to answer.

        Israelis supported the Gaza massacre in which, 300 children were incinerated.

        Cast Lead has been reported on extensively. There are many horror stories. And lots of other stories came to light in the same time period as the reporting on the massacre. Like the IDF, and their disgustingly racist and generally hateful T-Shirts, depicting pregnant Palestinian women in cross-hairs. The pamphlets issued by Rabbis on the necessity of killing Palestinian civilians.

        If your point in posting the poll about Itamar, was to support your idiotic conclusions about an entire population (it’s not 3/10ths to you, it’s the entire people) then there is much more ammunition for such conclusions coming from polls about other events and issues of the conflict in which Israelis demonstrate their darker side.

        You are a clown. You’re not even thinking about this seriously, you’re just denying it outright.

    • richb
      July 27, 2011, 1:56 pm

      Actually they were after people NEAR the theatre not IN the theatre.

      Naghnaghiye’s home is behind the theatre and Saadi lives nearby.

    • justicewillprevail
      July 27, 2011, 4:51 pm

      Utterly laughable attempt to excuse the behaviour of the IDF Klan. Some people will repeat the most banal rubbish from the IDF as if it were either true or justifiable. Same old feeble excuses, and post facto ‘justifications’. This is a pattern that has been going on for years. Save us your faux concern – why would ‘soldiers’ (thugs actually) be prosecuted for doing something they are encouraged to do, approved to do, and given carte blance to harrass and humiliate Palestinians in any way they see fit. And then arrest some innocuous Palestinians, claiming ing they were ‘wanted’ to ‘justify’ their terrorist crap.

    • Chaos4700
      July 27, 2011, 6:38 pm

      And why the fuck did they attack the theater building? You know, when a Palestinian rocket accidentally lands within a hundred yards of someone, you insist that they’re targeting civilians. Now we have IDF stormtroopers RIGHT THERE vandalizing civilian buildings and you’re going to insist that’s not targeting civilians?

      You guys are monsters.

      • Fredblogs
        July 27, 2011, 9:20 pm

        No, people who think babies should be stabbed to death in their beds are monsters. Now who thinks that? Oh, yeah, 32% of the Palestinians according to polls. People who throw cinder-blocks at doors fall more into the “jerk” or possibly “asshole” category. Assuming that the Israelis did that. As I said above, the picture just has some debris, no actual evidence of vandalism.

      • mig
        July 28, 2011, 3:17 am

        “No, people who think babies should be stabbed to death in their beds are monsters.”

        ++++ Yes they are, and how about polls in Israel ? Here is some backround information to that case :

        link to

      • Chaos4700
        July 28, 2011, 9:27 am

        What Israel is. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves for now.

  11. lysias
    July 27, 2011, 2:22 pm

    I’d be interested to know what David Mamet thinks of this.

  12. kalithea
    July 27, 2011, 3:07 pm

    Check out this video of IDF and settler scum kidnapping a Palestinian child they later beat:

    link to

    • Fredblogs
      July 27, 2011, 9:38 pm

      I see him being arrested. What I don’t see is a beating in a graveyard. Which sounds very melodramatic, but if you are going to beat someone, and you are the cops, don’t you have a lot more private rooms where you could take him to beat him rather than in an exposed graveyard?

      Ask Barbara Lubin why I don’t automatically believe Palestinian stories about kids being harmed by Israeli forces.

      • Chaos4700
        July 28, 2011, 12:23 am

        What makes you different, functionally, than a Holocaust denier?

      • mig
        July 28, 2011, 3:10 am

        Here is a list for you Fred, contact all of them and ask evidence :

        link to

        All of them are Israeli sites so that should cause no shivering to you then, ok ?

      • Fredblogs
        July 28, 2011, 2:32 pm

        The lack of evidence of the thing I am denying.

      • Fredblogs
        July 28, 2011, 2:38 pm

        Evidence of what? If you had evidence of the “beating in the graveyard”, you would have posted it. I’m not going on some wild goose chase that ends in the unsubstantiated word of the bunch that brought you the “Jenin massacre” of 500 people, that turned out to be about 50 people killed, mostly active fighters killed while fighting Israeli forces.

        Here, go find evidence that some Palestinians are doing terrorist attacks on Israel:

        link to

      • Fredblogs
        July 28, 2011, 2:49 pm

        Also the fact that I’m not actually denying it. I’m saying you don’t have evidence of it posted at the linked site.

        Kind of like God, typical atheists don’t say “there is no God” they say “there is no evidence of God”.

        BTW, out of curiosity, where do the other two cameras point? The video says “camera 3”.

  13. Saleema
    July 27, 2011, 3:12 pm

    Witty’s beloved Israel at work. He must be so proud!

  14. biorabbi
    July 27, 2011, 4:17 pm

    I guess this Palestinian theater will not be featuring the collected works of David Mamet anytime soon.

  15. ToivoS
    July 27, 2011, 4:39 pm

    Well this is a story that will not appear in the NY Times. They do of course write touching stories of kindly Israeli women befriending Palestinians and taking them to the beach.

  16. dbroncos
    July 27, 2011, 7:33 pm

    Fredblogs: “If it turns out to be true that the soldiers did it…”

    Fred believes that there is some question about who is responsible. Does that mean the IDF should round up the usual suspects and make Palestinians pay twice for this crime which is obviously the work of the IDF?

    • Fredblogs
      July 28, 2011, 2:41 pm

      I haven’t seen any evidence that anyone threw cinderblocks at the front door, much less that the IDF did it. There is some debris in the picture, but that could have gotten there in several ways. There doesn’t seem to be any actual damage. The giant glass front doors are intact for example.

      I’m not saying they couldn’t have done it, I’m saying, show some evidence.

  17. DICKERSON3870
    July 27, 2011, 7:42 pm

    RE: “Jenin Freedom Theatre raided in the middle of the night by Israeli military”

    MY COMMENT: Mini-Kristallnachts of attrition?

    FROM ALISTAIR COOK, London Review of Books, 03/03/11:

    (excerpts)…It was [Ariel] Sharon who pioneered the philosophy of ‘maintained uncertainty’ that repeatedly extended and then limited the space in which Palestinians could operate by means of an unpredictable combination of changing and selectively enforced regulations, and the dissection of space by settlements, roads Palestinians were not allowed to use and continually shifting borders. All of this was intended to induce in the Palestinians a sense of permanent temporariness
    …It suits Israel to have a ‘state’ without borders so that it can keep negotiating about borders, and count on the resulting uncertainty to maintain acquiescence

    SOURCE – link to

    ALSO SEE: Learned helplessness – link to

  18. esteban
    July 28, 2011, 2:24 am

    shame, shame
    more shame

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