Jewish-Arab director shot dead in northern West Bank

Jenin: Unknown gunmen shot dead a well-known Jewish-Arab actor and director today in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, Palestinian police and medics said.

Juliano Mer-Khamis, the 52-year-old director of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, died when gunmen inside the town`s refugee camp opened fire on his car, hitting him with five bullets, police chief Mohammed Tayim told reporters.

Witnesses in the camp told AFP they saw two masked gunmen open fire on his car before speeding away.

A photographer said his body was being transported to the Jalame checkpoint north of the city from where it would be taken to Israel.

However, Jenin governor Qadura Musa told initial reports indicated a lone gunman had carried out the attack. "He was shot by a masked gunman who fired five bullets into the window of his car," he said. A woman from Bethlehem who was in the car with him was wounded in the hand, he said.

Musa said said he was not aware of any threats against Mer-Khamis.

"We have not arrested anyone yet, but we have formed a crisis group from all the Palestinian security forces to investigate this crime and we hope to have some results within the coming hours."

An Israeli citizen, Mer-Khamis was born to a Jewish mother, Arna Mer, and a Palestinian Christian father, Saliba Khamis, and was known for both his acting and directing as well as his political activism.

He had lived in Jenin camp for seven years, and refused to describe himself as an Arab Israeli, telling Israel`s army radio in 2009: "I am 100 per cent Palestinian and 100 per cent Jewish."

The theatre was first set up by Mer-Khamis`s mother in 1987, when it was known as The Stone Theatre. A committed peace activist, Arna Mer had wanted to create a space where the children of Jenin could escape the violence of the first intifada which had begun several months earlier.

Bureau Report