(photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
Palestinian Authority security forces in Jenin have arrested a man on suspicion
of involvement in the assassination of Israeli-Arab actor and film producer
Juliano Mer-Khamis, a PA security official said on Tuesday.
RELATED:Actor Juliano Mer-Khamis gunned down in Jenin
said the suspect was a member of Hamas, but did not give further details.
However, Palestinians living in the Jenin refugee camp that was the scene of
Monday’s killing said the prime suspect was a former member of Fatah’s armed
wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. They said the man had previously served time in
an Israeli prison and was known in the camp as an arms dealer.
has claimed responsibility for the slaying of Mer-Khamis, 52, who lived in the
camp, where he also managed the Freedom Theater. A masked gunman opened fire at
him as he got into his car after leaving the theater.
baby, who was with him in the car, was not hurt, but a babysitter sitting next
to Mer- Khamis was lightly injured in the arm.
“Everyone in Jenin is
shocked over this heinous crime,” said camp resident Mahmoud Abu
“Although the actor had received death threats in the past, the
murder came as a huge surprise.”
The PA governor of Jenin, Qadoura
Moussa, confirmed that a suspect had been arrested in connection with the
killing, but he, too, refused to elaborate.
Moussa expressed hope that
the case would be solved soon, adding that some of the people questioned
following the murder had been released.
PA security forces interrogated
several Palestinians who worked with Mer-Khamis, including Zakariya Zubaidi, the
former commander of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the camp. Zubaidi said on
Tuesday he believed that a “powerful group or even a state” was behind the
“This is a big case,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “I don’t
believe he was killed for personal reasons. This can’t be the work of an
Zubaidi strongly condemned the assassination as a
“despicable and cowardly” crime and said Mer- Khamis had devoted his life to
promoting cultural activities and the theater project in the camp. He called on
the PA security forces to do their utmost to apprehend the
“Mer-Khamis is the martyr of humanity, and the Freedom
Theater will continue its work despite the absence of Mer-Khamis,” he said. “He
was a leader of a revolution and freedom.”
Zubaidi and dozens of
Palestinians held a memorial on Tuesday for Mer- Khamis, where they expressed
outrage and grief over the assassination.
Black flags covered the Freedom
Theater as activists declared three days of mourning.
One of the speakers
at the memorial, Bilal al-Sa’di, hailed Mer-Khamis as a role-model for the
children of the refugee camp and a “symbol of the culture of
Khaled Abu al-Haija, who worked in the theater with the
slain actor, said the murder was a major loss for Palestinian culture. He said
Mer-Khamis had established the first Palestinian theater that “embodied the
meaning of freedom and alternative resistance through culture and not the
Palestinian film producer Nabil al- Rai, who also worked in the
theater, described Mer-Khamis as a noble man and one of the most important Arab
In Ramallah, dozens of Palestinians staged a mock funeral for
Mer- Khamis and called on the PA to capture the perpetrator. Minister of Culture
Siham Barghouti, who participated in the event, said the assassination was
“The killing of Mer-Khamis is a crime against the
cultural movement in Palestine,” she said.