A squadron of Israeli armored vehicles and soldiers entered Jenin refugee camp at around 2 am on Tuesday morning, surrounded the Jenin Freedom Theatre, beat the security guard before abducting him and two others.This is the second time this month that Israeli troops have surrounded the theatre and abducted staff members. The first time, three staff were abducted and investigated as part of the murder of theatre co-director Juliano Mer-Khamis. On Monday, an Israeli military court outside Jenin ruled that the three had nothing to do with the attack, and should be released by the end of this week.
But after the ruling, Israeli forces again invaded the camp and aurrounded the theatre. The co-founder of the theatre, Jonathan Stanczak, told the IMEMC after the first attack on the theatre, ‘This is not the way an investigation of a crime case should be done. The people that they arrested are very good friends and colleagues of mine. They would be very willing to answer any questions that would be put to them in a civilized way. There’s no need to come at three in the morning, with masks, and scare children, and pull people out of their apartments. This is a brutal way to breed terror and fear in a densely-populated civilian area.’
In Tuesday’s attack, Israeli soldiers forced the Theatre’s Acting General Manager, Jacob Gough, to strip at gunpoint on the street in front of the theatre. When he tried to explain who he was, one of the soldiers told him to ‘shut up or you will get a proper beating’. They then abducted Gough and took him to an unknown location.
Soldiers also invaded the home of Mohammed Naghnaghiye, the theatre’s security guard. According to a press release by the Jenin Freedom Theatre, the soldiers ‘beat Mohammed before taking him away in handcuffs then proceeded to ransack all 3 floors of his family home leaving them in disarray. As the army left the area they fired live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the crowds of youth that had gathered and were throwing rocks.’
Theatre co-founder Jonathan Stanczak stated, ‘This behaviour is mounting to systematical harassment of The Freedom Theatre by The Israeli army, it is scandalous. This proves that the Israeli army and security apparatus is either lost in their investigation or that they have the actual intention of damaging the theatre. It also seems that after the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis The Freedom Theatre is no longer exempted from the kind of oppression the palestinian society is subjected to in general.’