Friday, December 15, 2023

Statement from the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Occupied West Bank

The destruction in Jenin Refugee Camp - photo: Estefania Vega

This post is a statement from The Freedom Theatre, who are based in Jenin Refugee Camp, in the Occupied West Bank. This is distinct from Gaza: what is happening to theatre artists and others in Jenin demonstrates the spread of hostilities throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The statement in this form dates from the evening of 14th December.


On the morning of the 13th of December, the Israeli army began attacking and ransacking The Freedom Theatre. They shot from inside the theatre, destroying the offices and knocking down a wall.

The army then went to the homes of Ahmed Tobasi and Mustafa Sheta, blindfolded,  handcuffed and took them away.

That evening the army went to the home of Jamal Abu Joas and severely beat him and then took him.

We can confirm (15:05 EET) that Tobasi has been released. He is suffering from leg and back pain where the Israeli Army beat him. We will update on his condition as soon as possible. 

After over 60 hours the full scale invasion by the Israeli Army has stopped. However invasions have been almost daily and we expect their return, and continue to be concerned for the safety of all

Upon being realised Tobasi said “They treated us like animals. They are trying to hurt us in any way they can, but its important we stay strong” 

We continue to ask people to demand the immediate release of Mustafa Sheta and Jamal Abu Joas, as with the over 100+ people taken by the Israeli Army in the last two days.

These attacks follow the murder of three members of The Freedom Theatre in the last few weeks including 17-year-old theatre participant Yamen Jarrar, 26-year-old Jehad Naghniyeh and 30 year old Mohammed Matahen. In June 2023 15-year-old Sadeel Naghnaghia and 17-year-old Mahmoud Al-Sadi theatre youth participant , were also murdered.

Earlier in July The Freedom Theatre was damaged due to bombing, during a three-day invasion and Technician Adnan Torokman was detained for four days by the Israeli army.

For decades, Palestinian artists have been arbitrarily detained by Israel, sometimes for years, who also target and destroy cultural buildings, a war crime under international law. In the last few weeks in Gaza, an unprecedented number of writers, poets, theatremakers and journalists have been killed, including DR. Refaat Alareer, who was deliberately targeted and murdered.

We thank everyone in Palestine and worldwide who has worked tirelessly to demand Tobasi’s release. Our friends and allies continue to prove that collective action works.

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