The police force of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank arrested a man Tuesday who was identified by eyewitnesses as the masked man who shot well-known Israeli-Palestinian peacemaker, actor and theatre director, Juliano Meir-Khamis, on Monday.Mujahed Qaniri was identified by a babysitter who was in the car with Juliano Meir-Khamis and his infant when the attack took place. She told police that she saw the man’s face before he fired the shots, then put on a mask and fled.
Qaniri has, in the past, been identified with the al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah party, which carried out attacks against Israel between 2001 and 2005. Zakaria Zubeidi, former leader of the al-Aqsa Brigades in Jenin, joined the Freedom Theatre as a co-director in 2005, having renounced violence, to take up cultural resistance.
According to Agence France Presse, anonymous sources in Jenin camp told their reporters that Qaniri had left the al-Aqsa Brigades and became associated with Hamas or other resistance groups in recent years.
Hamas representatives ardently denied any connection to Qaniri, with Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri explicitly stating that Mujahed Qaniri “has no relationship with Hamas”.
Juliano Meir-Khamis was one of the founders and managers of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, who worked to help children in the Jenin refugee camp deal with the trauma of their daily life under occupation through theatre and performance.
Born to a Jewish-Israeli mother and a Palestinian-Israeli father, he had lived for the last seven years in Jenin refugee camp with his wife and children. Many NGOs, political and religious leaders in Palestine have issued statements condemning the attack, and expressing sorrow for the loss of Meir-Khamis.