Freedom Theater leaders imprisoned by Israel

The Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, the US based organization that has supported The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Occupied Palestine since 2006 reports, with horror, that Israeli armed forces abducted Mustafa Sheta, The Freedom Theatre’s general manager, and Ahmed Tobasi, the theater’s artistic director, from inside their homes today, December 13, 2023. Tobasi’s brother Mohammed was also seized.

We have no information on the whereabouts or condition of these two vital members of a beloved cultural institution in Jenin. The last word we had from Ahmed Tobasi was “They are going house to house. They are taking everyone.” More than 100 Palestinians have been seized in Jenin.

We call on people everywhere, and artists particularly, to demand the immediate release of Mustafa Sheta, Ahmed Tobasi, Mohammed Tobasi, and all the Palestinians who are imprisoned, without charges or a trial.

Before October 7, Israel held more than 1,300 Palestinians in prison in the West Bank without charges. This included the former chairman of The Freedom Theatre, Bilal Al Saadi, who has been held for more than a year. In the last two months alone, Israel has imprisoned hundreds more, now holding over 2,000 hostage.

The Israeli army has repeatedly, violently invaded the Jenin refugee camp where The Freedom Theatre is situated, with each attack escalating in violence. This latest invasion, which was made with armored bulldozers tearing up streets, drones dropping bombs on Palestinian homes, and a siege of the hospital blocking ambulances, killed six. The Israeli army has killed 58 people in Jenin alone since October 7, including children.