IPSC condemns abduction of Palestinian Theatre Director and ongoing Israeli attacks
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) today condemned the detention of Nabil Al-Raee, the Artistic Director of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank. Martin O’Quigley, IPSC Chairperson said, “the IPSC condmens this act of cultural repression by the Israeli occupation forces. The Freedom Theatre is an internationally renowned and respected artistic company. In light of this, and previous similar attacks on the theatre, this abduction can only be seen as a targeted act of intimidation and harassment of Palestinian artists by Israel’s apartheid regime”.
Mr. Al-Raee was taken at approximately 3:15 am this morning when the Israeli army entered his home, transferred him to an unknown location and refused to tell his wife why he had been detained. Mr. Al-Raee’s wife, Micaela Miranda, said: “[The Israeli army] took Nabil, brought him to an army jeep and drove off. We are very worried because we don’t know where they took him and why”.
According to the Freedom Theatre website, over half the of the theatre’s employees were recently called to interrogations by the Israeli army (including Mr. Al-Raee). were recently called to interrogations by the Israeli army. All came to the appointments as scheduled and answered the questions put to them, though they were intimidated and even threatened. Jonatan Stanczak, Managing Director of The Freedom Theatre, pointed out that,”[the army] know they could simply have made a phone call to Nabil and he would have come to answer any questions or concerns that they might have. Since this has happened so many times in the past, I can’t interpret it as anything else than an ongoing harassment of the employees of The Freedom Theatre and their families”. The Freedom Theatre has been a victim of what Mr. Stanczak previously described as “systematic harassment” by Israeli occupation forces, most notably last summer when Israeli commandos attacked the theatre and arrested several of its members. Those members were later released after an international outcry.
According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, Mr. Al-Raee’s arrest was one of only 15 such detentions on Wednesday, including the arrest of three fishermen in Gazan waters. According to official PLO figures, Israeli forces detained 240 Palestinians during the past month alone.
These detentions come as two hunger strikers, Mahmoud Sarsak (a member of the Palestinian National Football Team) and Akram Rikhawi approach death in Israeli prisons, while another, Samer al-Baraq, enters his 15th day. There is now talk of hundreds of prisoners returning en masse to an open ended hunger strike as Israel has reneged on agreements reached when the last strike of 2,000 people was called off after a negotiated conclusion last month. This development coincides with the release yesterday of an Amnesty International report highlighting Israel’s failure to implement promised prison reforms, and reports of Israeli military forces storming Ofer and Rimon prisons and beating detainees in reprisal for the mass hunger strike. The IPSC will hold a solidarity vigil with the hunger striking prisoners tomorrow evening, Thursday 7th June, from 5pm – 6.30pm at the Spire, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1 where participants will wear Palestinian, international and club football jerseys.
IPSC Chairperson, Martin O’Quigley commented: “Yesterday we contacted the Irish government and various domestic and international footballing bodies to intervene in this case, but we have yet to hear back from any of them. It seems they are unwilling to speak out against this injustice.”
Mr. O’Quigley continued: Israel’s brutal, repressive and punitive prison regime is only one aspect of the occupation of Palestine by Israel and its associated Apartheid regime. Indeed, when one considers the ongoing siege of Gaza and fragmentation of the West Bank, Palestine can be viewed as one large open air prison camp. The IPSC calls for the end of the Administrative Detention policy and Unlawful Combatants Law, both used to intern people without charge, an end to the system of military courts which do not meet standards of international law, and for the freedom of all Palestinian political prisoners”.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces continued to bombard the besieged Gaza strip last night. Since a reported clash between the Israeli military and a Palestinian fighter on Friday that left both the Palestinian and one Israeli solider dead, continued Israeli missile attacks on the strip have left a further two Palestinians dead and several others wounded, including 7 members of a single family in al-Nuseirat refugee camp. Israeli missiles also targeted agricultural lands, a dairy farm and, last night, a poultry farm – the latter incident leading to the hashtag #JihadiChickenBrigade trending worldwide on the social networking site Twitter in response to the absurdity and pettiness of the attack.
Martin O’Quigley, IPSC Chairperson concluded: “Unfortunately, this is just the grim reality of another week in occupied Palestine. Israel can act with impunity – targeting people, land, livelihoods and culture – because the international community is unwilling to take meaningful action. The IPSC calls on people, governments and businesses of conscience to heed the Palestinian call for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until is complies fully with its obligations under international law and the Palestinian people enjoy true freedom, justice and equality.”