Israel: Theatre director arrested by the Israeli army

8 June 2012

At approximately 3:15 in the morning of 6 June 2012, the Israeli army entered the home of Nabil Al-Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, and arrested him. The soldiers refused to tell Al-Raee’s wife where they’d be taking him and why.

Photo courtesy of The Freedom Theatre


Jonathan Stanczak, who will be on stage at the World Conference on Artistic Freedom of Expression, is Managing Director of The Freedom Theatre — a theatre and cultural centre in Jenin Refugee Camp in Palestine — and he lives on the floor above Al-Raee. When he heard what was happening, he tried to talk to the soldiers in Hebrew. In The Freedom Theatre’s press release about the arrest Jonathan Stanczak stated: “The house was surrounded by masked Israeli soldiers and three of them immediately pointed their weapons at me and pushed me back into the house.”

According to Al-Raee’s lawyer, Smadar ben-Natan, the only thing known so far is that Al-Raee is presently being held in the Jalameh detention centre north of Jenin in Israel. According to an alert on The Freedom Theatre’s web page, the interrogations at Jalameh and other military detention centres commonly involve treatments such as sleep deprivation, psychological pressure and binding in painful positions.

Recent interrogations and attacks
Many of the employees of The Freedom Theatre were recently called to interrogations by the Israeli army. All of them, including Al-Raee, came to the appointments and answered to their best of their knowledge the given questions. According to The Freedom Theatre, many of them were intimidated and even threatened during the interrogations.

Jonathan Stanczak comments on the interrogations and the arrest: “I can’t interpret it as anything else than an ongoing harassment of the employees of The Freedom Theatre and their families by the Israeli army.”

According to The Freedom Theatre, this is the Israeli army’s fourth attack on The Freedom Theatre, its employees and their families.

The Freedom Theatre urges all supporters of The Freedom Theatre specifically and protectors of art and culture in general to call and e-mail the nearest Israeli representative office to demand the immediate release of Nabil Al-Raee and an end to the systematic harassment of the members of The Freedom Theatre.

Read more on The Freedom Theatre’s home page.

Co-founder and supporter in unlawful detention
On 13 May 2012, Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder and avid supporter of The Freedom Theatre, was arrested by Palestinian security forces and taken to Jericho prison. Since the arrest, Zubeidi has not been allowed to meet with his lawyer or have any contact with his family.

According to The Freedom Theatre, Zubeidi’s lawyer claims that the arrest has not followed due process since Zubeidi should have been brought before a Jenin court and not taken away to Jericho. A part from this, Zubeidi’s right to communicate with his family after a maximum of 10 days has also been violated, as has his right to consult with a lawyer.

Assasination of Juliano Mer-Khamis
Juliano Mer-Khamis, who was one of the founders of the The Freedom Theatre, was shot in front of the theatre in April 2011. This song was produced by Palestinian rap group DAM (featuring Mer-Khamis’ theatre students) in honour of Mer-Khamis, one year after the assassination:


Read more

The Freedom Theatre press release – 6 June 2012:
Artistic Director Of The Freedom Theatre Taken By Israeli Army

The Freedom Theatre action alert – 7 June 2012:
Action Alert: Free Nabil Al-Raee and Zakaria Zubeidi

Palestine News Network – 7 June 2012:
Israeli Abduction of Palestinian Theatre Director Condemned By IPSC



A Statement by the International Community of Artists and Academics on Behalf of Nabil Al-Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, Occupied Palestine

On June 6, 2012, during the early hours of the morning, the Israeli army abducted Nabil Al-Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp. Despite having committed no crime, a large number of Israeli soldiers surrounded Nabil’s house at 3 a.m. and took him away at gunpoint in front of his wife and his 2-year old daughter.  Nabil has not been able to communicate with his family since.

The Palestinian people are used to these arbitrary actions by the Israeli occupation army.  Military raids and arrests happen every day and every night.  In fact, since 1967, over 800,000 Palestinians have been arrested. As a result, more than 70 percent of Palestinian families have had at least one family member arrested at some stage.  Since 1948, artists, academics, journalists, union leaders and human rights advocates have been a particular target of military arrests, imprisonment and assassinations.

Despite this protracted and systematic violation of the Palestinian people, it is vital that we do not become passive or complacent.  When the Israeli army attacks a fellow artist and activist, we must take action.

Over the last year, the Israeli army has attacked The Freedom Theatre on six separate occasions – physically destroying property and detaining numerous members of staff.  With its continuing harassment of the theatre and its employees, the Israeli army undermines any pretence of operating under the rule of law. Abducting a man whose only offense was to resist the brutal and continuing occupation ofPalestinethrough artistic means, is a violation of international conventions and international law.

This abuse is the mark of a regime more akin to societies ruled by tyranny – not those claiming to adhere by democratic principles. For any society that claims to be democratic, the independence of judicial and civil authority from military jurisdiction is vital. It is necessary that all persons living under the laws of that society be protected by the basic principles of due process and be protected from unlawful arrest, torture or other abuse, including illegal and arbitrary imprisonment by the military.

We will not be silent in the face of Israel’s egregious actions. We demand the immediate release of Nabil Al-Raee and denounce his arrest as a corrupt abuse of power by the Israeli government, with the silent consent of the Palestinian Authority.

As artists, academics and activists across the world, we the undersigned, speak out in protest against the unjust imprisonment of Nabil Al-Raee.

[The Undersigned]

If you wish to lend your voice to this campaign, please email with your full name and title and we will add you as an endorser of this appeal.

You are also encouraged to reply with a personalized statement calling for Nabil’s release.

Please circulate this email to prominent artists, academics and human rights advocates who may also wish to sign.

Many thanks,

Ben Rivers
The Freedom Theatre


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