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DECEMBER 2023 ATTACKS ON
THE FREEDOM THEATRE

The Freedom Theatre's Producer Mustafa Sheta remains in prison.

FOR SPECIFIC INFORMATION ON HIS ARREST & WHAT YOU CAN DO >>

1. NEWS AND UPDATES

- Overview

- Latest updates

- French translation

- Download all photos

2. DESTRUCTION OF THE FREEDOM THEATRE

- What happened

- Photos and evidence

3. ARRESTS

- Mustafa Sheta

- Jamal Abu Joas

- Ahmed Tobasi

4. INVASIONS

- Report on the 12th - 14th invasion

5. PRESS COVERAGE

- Interviews and articles on the Freedom Theatre attacks and the global response

1. NEWS & UPDATES

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.

The army then went to the homes of Artistic Director, Ahmed Tobasi and Producer Mustafa Sheta where they were blindfolded,  handcuffed and taken away.

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

 

The 12th, 13th and 14th of December saw the largest invasion in Jenin Camp since 2002, an estimated 300 people were arrested by the Israeli army.

We thank everyone in Palestine and worldwide who has worked tirelessly to demand Tobasi and Jamal’s release. Collective action works, and we ask people to continue to fight for Mustafa Sheta’s release.

GENERAL OVERVIEW

UPDATE 16:40 EET 31ST DECEMBER 2023:

MUSTAFA SHETA detained

(updated 31 .12.23)

“The lawyer told me what happened in court and that we cannot do anything. They are in “a state of war” and the army is the one who decides the fate of the prisoners” - Rasha Abu Moais, wife to Mustafa

Mustafa Sheta, producer of The Freedom Theatre, has been given six months of administrative detention. He is a precautionary detainee imprisoned without charge.

 

Israel has presented no evidence against Mustafa but suggested they do not want him outside the prison because he writes articles criticizing Israel.

 

Previously Mustafa's lawyer was able to see him for ten minutes. Mustafa was transferred to Salem prison for investigation. The questions were: "Are you affiliated with an organization? Do you engage in political activity?"

 

Mustafa's "trial" was in a closed military court, and only the lawyer could enter. These "trials" by the Israeli occupying army, are normally judged by a military officer. There is no justice or judicial process and military orders always take precedence over Israeli and international law. On the rare occasions when international law is used, it is done so to favour the occupying power.

Administration detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold Palestinians indefinitely on "secret information" without charge or trial. 800,000 Palestinians have been held in this system since 1967 with the longest detention for eight years.

Since October 7th, there have been reports of an increase in physical and psychological torture by Israel inside the prisons, and at least six Palestinians have been killed.  

Mustafa was previously held in Megiddo prison located in Israel (historically Palestine). Under Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all Palestinian detainees are supposed to be held in the West Bank. Therefore any Israeli violation of this Article attracts personal criminal liability.

Poet and graduate from The Freedom Theatre Jamal Abu Joas, saw Mustafa in prison, where they were both being held. Mustafa said to him, “Let's make a theatre in prison and we can work from here”

In 2015, Mustafa was taken by the Israeli army and held in Administrative detention for six months.

 

At that time, Mustafa was the secretary of the Board of The Freedom Theatre. As a researcher and journalist, he was well-known for his social and humanitarian activism. He also worked at the United Nations and studied for a Master’s degree at the Arab American University.

 

Upon his release in 2015, he lost his job at the United Nations. However, their loss was The Freedom Theatre’s gain and he became the Producer in 2017.

JAMAL ABU JOAS released 

(updated 21 .12.23)

We are very relieved to announce that the Israeli army has released Jamal Abu Joas. Taken on the 13th of December, the 23-year-old poet and acting graduate, was held for eight days without evidence. He is happy and feels free.

 

When Jamal was in military court, the fabricated charges presented against him were, “possession of weapons and explosives”.

 

Jamal was shocked by the accusations and defended himself before the court. Whilst it is common for the Israeli army to hold Palestinians for months or even years, in this unique case, Jamal managed to secure his release.

Mustafa Sheta, The Freedom Theatre’s Producer, is still being held by the army. Jamal saw him in Hawara prison for a day, until they transferred Mustafa to another prison.

 

Mustafa said to him,“Let's make a theatre in prison and we can work from here”.

AHMED TOBASI  released 

(updated 13 .12.23)

Ahmed Tobasi was released on the 13th December. He is recovering after being beaten and interogated at gunpoint in a field throughout night.

(updated 31 .12.23)

For decades, Palestinian artists have been arbitrarily detained by Israel, sometimes for years.

Administrative detention is a clear tactic being used to destroy Palestinian society and cause widespread trauma and fear.

 

All Palestinians risk being taken, from teachers to dancers, those who like a post on Facebook to those participating in a gathering of 10 people without a permit.

 

An estimated 2,800 Palestinians from the West Bank and Historical Palestine are currently being held in administrative detention. This includes at least 200 children and Muhammad Abu Sakha from the Palestinian Circus School who has been detained since June 9th 2023. The number of Palestinians from Gaza is unknown.

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. Israel continue to target and destroy buildings of cultural heritage, a war crime under international law.

The Palestine Festival of Literature has been highlighting the lives and work of the many artists murdered in Gaza. This includes poet, writer and teacher Dr Refaat Alareer, who was recently murdered in what Euro-Med Monitor believe was a deliberate and targeted killing.

In May 2022, journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and murdered in Jenin Refugee Camp by the Israeli Army. Euro-Med Human rights Monitor has recorded 104 Palestinian journalists and media workers from Gaza have been killed as of the 30th of December. At least 20 journalists have been arrested since October 7th.

READ TESTIMONIES FROM ARTISTS HERE >>

2. DESTRUCTION OF THE FREEDOM THEATRE

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DESTRUCTION TO
THE FREEDOM THEATRE

The Israeli Army entered The Freedom Theatre, destroying the offices and opening fire from inside. They then knocked down a wall between the office and the neighbour’s home.

For hours the Israelis sat in the offices, as sounds of hammering and shooting could be heard. The army then moved to the other side of my home, next to the theatre.

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.

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.

As part of the most recent December attacks on The Freedom Theatre, we are distressed to see the weaponization of Jewish symbols by the Israeli army. We celebrate our many Jewish allies around the world and thank them for their support for The Freedom Theatre and for standing together to ensure human rights and dignity for all.

3. ARRESTS

DETAILS ON MUSTAFA SHETA'S ARRESTS

 “He was arrested 13/12/2023 from our house in the city of Jenin where he was handcuffed and taken in front of our children with no mercy or any consideration to our feelings. My children spent their night crying. We felt so scared without him being around with us. We feel very sad for him being away, especially since we don't know why he was arrested.  We call for everyone who can help us to stand with my husband and release him from this occupation.”

- RASHA ABU MOAIS STATEMENT (wife to Mustafa)

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DETAILS ON JAMAL ABU JOAS'S ARRESTS

DETAILS ON AHMED TOBASI'S ARRESTS

4. INVASION

On 12th December, a three-day invasion began in Jenin Camp and the city.

It was the most intensive invasion since 2002. The attack included drone strikes, bombing and Israeli soldiers shooting, ransacking homes, desecrating mosques and terrorising the local population.

 

Twelve Palestinians were killed, and the army took at least one hundred people and detained them

5. PRESS COVERAGE

Scroll down for press coverage on the December attacks on The Freedom Theatre

6. THE FREEDOM THEATRE

THE FREEDOM THEATRE 

“The 3rd Intifada will be a cultural one” - JULIANO MER KHAMIS

 

    The Freedom Theatre is based in Jenin Refugee Camp, Palestine. Founded in 2006, it has cultivated a powerful new generation of artists who fight for equality, justice and liberation.

 

This vibrant artistic community has toured productions globally, bringing international attention to one of the most aggressively attacked refugee camps in Palestine.

 

Alongside a three-year professional actors training, there is also training and professional work in film, photography, stand-up comedy and writing.

 

The Freedom Theatre provides a vital space for children to play, create and imagine away from the repeated trauma they experience, with year-round activities and performances.

 

Founded by a team including armed resistance fighter Zakaria Zubedi and actor and director Juliano Mer Khamis The Freedom Theatre has built its own unique methodology of Cultural Resistance

 

    The Freedom Theatre is continually attacked, members of the theatre have been arrested and imprisoned and on April 4th 2011 Juliano Mer Khamis was murdered on the doorstep of the theatre.

JENIN REFUGEE CAMP

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The Freedom Theatre is based in Jenin Refugee Camp in the north of the West Bank in Palestine. 

 

The camp was formed in 1948 during the Nakba, a catastrophe that saw 750,000 Palestinians displaced as Israel was founded

 

It is half a km squared with roughly 23,000 people living there

DONATE

7. WORLDWIDE GROUPS TO JOIN

JOIN A FREEDOM THEATRE FRIENDSHIP GROUP IN YOUR COUNTRY

JOIN THE FREEDOM THEATRE US FRIENDS

Subscribe to US mailing list email: friends@thefreedomtheatre.org 

To Join Group Email: friends@thefreedomtheatre.org 

US Friends facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FOFJTNY

 

JOIN THE FREEDOM THEATRE FRENCH FRIENDS

Website: atljenine.net

Email: theatrejenine@yahoo.fr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ATLJenine

 

JOIN THE FREEDOM THEATRE SWEDISH FRIENDS

Email: swedenfriends@thefreedomtheatre.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FTsverige

JOIN AN ORGANSATION IN YOUR COUNTRY

ORGANISING IN THE UK

For those wanting to organise in UK:

Artists Against Genocide: Instagram @culturalworkersuk

Join Palestine Action: https://www.palestineaction.org/
Join Palestine Solidarity Campaign: https://www.palestinecampaign.org/

ORGANISING IN NORWAY

For those wanting to organise in Norway:​

Palestinakomiteen Norge:https://palestinakomiteen.no/?doing_wp_cron=1688664127.0635700225830078125000

Støtt The Freedom Theatre gjennom Spleiskampanjen: https://www.spleis.no/project/329539

ORGANISING IN GERMANY

www.solidaritaet-international.de

ORGANISING IN INDIA

InCACBI / BDS 

https://bdsmovement.net/news-listing-author/Indian%20Campaign%20for%20the%20Academic%20and%20Cultural%20Boycott%20of%20Israel%20%28InCACBI%29

 

About InCACBI

https://indianculturalforum.in/2020/11/09/marking-10-years-of-incacbi/

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