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“Collective Punishment”: Israel Raids Jenin Camp in West Bank, Killing 8, “Shooting Everything”

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In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces raided the northern city of Jenin early Tuesday morning, killing at least eight Palestinians, including a doctor shot dead on his way to work and a teenager riding his bicycle. About a dozen others were injured, including a journalist. Motasem Abu Hasan, an actor at The Freedom Theatre in the Jenin refugee camp who escaped the invasion, describes the ongoing attack on the camp. “They are shooting everything,” says Abu Hasan. The Freedom Theatre was about to premiere their first play since October 7 as part of their wider effort to share the Palestinian narrative and “reveal the truth about the Israeli occupation.” The raid began just as Spain, Ireland and Norway became the latest European states to recognize the Palestinian state. “It’s a result of the cultural intifada,” says Abu Hasan. “That’s why we really believe in the power of narrative, especially in The Freedom Theatre, in Palestine, in Jenin camp.”

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AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in the occupied West Bank, where deadly Israeli raids continue. Israeli forces raided the northern city of Jenin early Tuesday morning, killing at least eight Palestinians, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, including a doctor and a teenager riding his bicycle. The doctor killed has been identified as Dr. Osayd Jabarin, a surgeon at Jenin Government Hospital, who was reportedly shot dead on his way to work. About a dozen others were reported injured, including a journalist. Schools in Jenin were evacuated. This is Palestinian ambulance driver Hazim Masarwa.

HAZIM MASARWA: [translated] The undercover forces raided the area suddenly, and they were firing at any moving body in the street. You can see among those killed was a doctor, teachers and students. These are the martyrs. The injuries were mostly concentrated in the thighs, the chest and the head. The Israeli forces were targeting anything moving. As you can see, the ambulances were targeted, too.

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, dozens of mourners buried a Palestinian teacher killed when Israeli troops stormed Jenin. This is the teacher’s brother, Tareq Jaradat.

TAREQ JARADAT: [translated] Earlier this morning, he was on his way to school. And when the sudden raids started in Jenin, the Israeli forces shot at people, and he was among them.

AMY GOODMAN: Israeli forces also made 15 arrests across Ramallah, Nablus and Tubas, as well as in occupied East Jerusalem. This comes as the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem posted video from Saturday of three or four military jeeps driving into the center of Deir Abu Mash’al, a village northwest of Ramallah. After young men reportedly threw stones, the soldiers suspected one of them ran into a nearby bakery, and two officers and about six soldiers entered it and immediately started assaulting workers there and in the neighboring shop they fled to. The young men were also beaten by the soldiers. Israel has detained over 8,800 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since October 7th.

For more, we’re going to Nablus. We’re joined by Motasem Abu Hasan. He’s an actor with The Freedom Theatre in the Jenin refugee camp. He escaped the camp just as the invasion began Tuesday morning. We had also hoped to speak with Ahmed Tobasi, the artistic director of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, but he’s still in the middle of the camp, which is surrounded by Israeli soldiers, and we couldn’t reach him.

Motasem, you were in rehearsal for a new play, opening tomorrow, when the raid started. Can you describe what happened?

MOTASEM ABU HASAN: Hi, everyone, and thank you.

What happened, it’s happened for 73 times until now. That’s one, that invasion of Jenin camp, is the 73 invasions. We awake on the alarm of the camp, that the Israeli army started to invade Jenin. I wake up and start to, you know, have an information, checking the news what’s happened. It’s all — it start with a special force that invade Jenin camp, and they are trying to arrest young guys in the camp. But then, the clashes was started, and the military jeep and tanks and, you know, D9 start to invade the camp and Jenin.

When it happened, I expected that it is the invasion, because all of the situation in the last few weeks, all of people in the camps says that — are talking to each other that we feel — we feel that the invasion, another one, will happen, after the July one and the December one. All of us, we can feel it, like the invasion will happen in some days, in some days that’s coming. So, it’s really happened.

So, I decided, and my colleague, Khalil al-Batran, he also the actor in the play that we are rehearsing about it, we decided to go out from the camp. It’s a really very difficult and hard feeling to really leave the camp. And we leave it, like, between the snipers of the Israeli army. We’re just walking and look around us, that a lot of snipers there, and we just expected that the bullet will, like, crush our heads. So, yeah, we went out. It’s a really hard time or a hard moment to leave the camp, also because we know very well the need of people in the camp to be like — surround each other, to give power to each other.

Especially at The Freedom Theatre, our theater, we work stems — or, our work stems from the deep belief in the importance of cultural and art. This belief, it’s rooted from the statement of the founder of The Freedom Theatre, Juliano Mer-Khamis, when he said that the Third Intifada will be a cultural intifada. And we believe really this statement. And war, from it, and especially in this genocide war against all Palestinians in Gaza, in West Bank, we fully understand our significant responsible to instill hope and to instill the culture and to instill life for the people, to work hard to reveal, you know, to reveal the truth about the Israeli occupation. It is crucial to emphasize the importance of remaining steadfast in the face of the collective punishment policies employed by the occupation, you know, to make the Palestinian life harder, as we understood the need to convey our narrative. And our narrative, it’s now be a worldwide narrative. We can see the importance of the narrative, especially now.

And America and the Europe today, Spain and Ireland and Belgium, they, you know, believe in the need of a country for Palestinians. Because that, we really had — before maybe three months, at March, we decided to start rehearsal for a new play. And we started from March until yesterday. We worked hard to do this play, and we did a lot of rehearsals. Now we like, in the last minute, you know, to have a premiere. And the play, it’s really, really full of ideas, because we discuss in this play the meaning of the war and when the other person became my friend and when that person became my enemy. And the challenge is, it is the first play we’ll perform in Palestine, in West Bank from the 7th of October. We have and we carry this responsible of this, you know, to perform the play, because we know especially the need of people here to really understand —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: If you could talk about —

MOTASEM ABU HASAN: Yes. Hello?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Motasem, yes, I wanted to ask you, in terms of the continued attacks by both settlers and Israeli soldiers on the inhabitants of the West Bank, while the rest of the world is focused on Gaza, how — can you talk about the escalation of these attacks since October 7th?

MOTASEM ABU HASAN: In West Bank, we, like, lived under occupation before the 7th of October. It’s not started on the 7th of October. It’s right from '48. We live under the occupation, especially in the West Bank and, you know, West Jerusalem and also Gaza with the wars. But in West Bank, the settlers became more, more — I don't know — more monster, like around the roads between the cities and the checkpoints. The Israeli army put more checkpoints between the cities here, like to make West Bank it’s like villages, not a country or not cities connected to each other. They are trying to really make every city surrounded by a settlement, and the Palestinians just live in these cities, and they cannot — we cannot go outside our city. There are a lot of people killed by the settlers in the West Bank, especially like in the road between Nablus and Ramallah, and also Ramallah and Hebron. I think there are 20 people killed by the settlers, the checkpoints really hard. From Nablus to Ramallah, it’s one hour by car in a regular, in a normal situation. But now we have to really plan to go to Ramallah, because it’s four hours now with the checkpoints. If we want, you know, to go to travel, we have to escape the very tough checkpoint. And the invade of the — the storm of Israeli army to every city in Palestine, it’s more difficult now, but it’s really happening before the 7th of October, but now it’s more tough. They are shooting everything, everything moves.

That’s what happened yesterday: in one hour, seven people killed by Israeli army. They are, you know, really monster, really shooting everything, a children on his bicycle. He ran out from his school to go to his home, to his safe place, how he think. He just have a bullet in his mind. The teacher, he is afraid of his boys, of his students. He tried everything to make the children and his students safe. He had a bullet in his mind. The doctor, he afraid, and he’s quickly run out from his home to the hospital. He had a bullet in his mind, in his head. It’s really horrible situation. Yesterday, in one hour, seven people killed by a bullet, by a gun. And soldiers that didn’t see anything just killed, and destroyed everything — electricity, internet, the water tunnel, the street, the buildings. They storm now, now. It’s happening now, in this time. They storm every house.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you —

MOTASEM ABU HASAN: Yeah.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you: Do you have some hope now, when you hear of all the young people in the West protesting Israel’s war on the Palestinians and on Gaza, and when you hear now the first European countries recognizing the state of Palestine?

MOTASEM ABU HASAN: It’s a cultural intifada. It’s a result of the cultural intifada. It’s a cultural intifada. That’s why we really believe in the power of narrative, especially in The Freedom Theatre in Palestine in Jenin camp. We did a tour around all the world, from Australia to America, just to say that — our narrative, to let people know our stories, our narrative as a Palestinian live under occupation, in the horrible situation, you know, really. Now, in this time, I just think that this is really a normal life. Did anybody around the world now live like us? But now we really — I told you, you know, from a deep belief, that we’re just thinking that it is a normal life. When I traveled outside myself to Europe —

AMY GOODMAN: Motasem, we have 10 seconds.

MOTASEM ABU HASAN: Yeah, because it’s last 10 seconds, I really want to say that that is the power of narrative, because that Mustafa Sheta, the manager, administrative manager of The Freedom Theatre, he is arrested, and now he is in the jail for the six months without reason. Zakaria Zubeidi, he is a co-founder, with Juliano Mer-Khamis, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre with Juliano Mer-Khamis, he in the prison. Ahmed Tobasi, he was in the prison. And now Tobasi, we cannot connect with him, because there are no electricity, no internet in the camp. And —

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, we had actually hoped that we would be able to reach the camp, but because there is no electricity and internet, we couldn’t. But, Motasem Abu Hasan, we thank you so much for being with us, actor at The Freedom Theatre in the Jenin refugee camp. He escaped the camp just as the latest Israeli military raid began Tuesday morning. A number of people were killed, including a doctor and two 15-year-olds.

Next up, the Gaza solidarity encampment at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is the latest to be violently dismantled by police. We’re going to go to Michigan. And then we’re going to speak with professors at The New School here in New York. A deal has been reached with the chancellor around a divestment vote. Stay with us.

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