[News] Israel storms two Palestinian cultural centres in East Jerusalem

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 22 13:05:34 EDT 2020


  Israel storms two Palestinian cultural centres in East Jerusalem

By MEE staff - July 22, 2020

Israeli police and intelligence officers stormed two Palestinian 
cultural centres in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday, seizing 
records and documents and detaining employees, official Palestinian news 
agency Wafa reported.

The Yabous Cultural Centre 
and the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) 
<http://ncm.birzeit.edu/ar>, also known as the Edward Said Institute, 
are at the heart of the musical and cultural scene in East Jerusalem.

The residence of Suhail Khoury, the ESNCM director, and Rania Elias, the 
director of Yabous, was also stormed by Israeli forces, who escorted 
them to the offices of both centres for the search and seizure 
of documents. Both Khoury and Elias were detained by the Israeli police.

Khoury and Elias, who are married 
are the organisers of festivals and events in the Palestinian cultural 

The news agency also reported that the residence of Daoud al-Ghoul, the 
director of the Jerusalem Arts Network (Shafaq), was stormed and 
ransacked as well.

Shafaq acts as an umbrella network for cultural centres in East 
Jerusalem, including Yabous; ESNCM; Al-Ma’mal Foundation for 
Contemporary Art; the gallery of The Palestinian Art Court (Al Hosh); 
and the Palestinian National Theatre (Al-Hakawati).

Israeli police said that it detained three suspects for alleged tax 
evasion and fraud, and that it confiscated materials for an ongoing 

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said in a 
statement that Israel's campaign against Palestinians in Jerusalem "aims 
to erase the Palestinian presence and alter the demographic and cultural 
make-up of the city through numerous home demolitions, forced evictions 
and targeting the daily livelihoods of Palestinian Jerusalemites”.

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Culture condemned the storming 
of Yabous and ESNMC.

“The attack on these institutions is an attack on the Palestinian 
national culture and cultural heritage,” the ministry said in a statement.

Over a thousand students are currently learning music at the Edward Said 
National Conservatory of Music, with branches in Jerusalem, Nablus, 
Gaza, Ramallah and Bethlehem.

In 2013, ESNCM Palestine Strings performed 
<https://www.palmusic.org.uk/story-of-palmusic-uk/> in the BBC Proms 
musical event at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The conservatory was founded by the Palestinian writer Edward Said and 
the Israeli composer Daniel Barenboim in 1999, under the name 
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. The name was changed in 2004. The Yabous 
Cultural Centre was founded in 1995.

Israeli authorities have been tightening their grip over Palestinian 
institutions in the occupied city.

Over the weekend, Adnan Ghaith, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, 
was arrested over “suspected terrorism”, according to his lawyer.

Ghaith has been arrested more than ten times in the past two years over 
his activities in East Jerusalem and each time would be released after a 
day or two.

Mohammed Mahmoud, Ghaith’s lawyer, told AFP that this time his client is 
not expected to be released soon, as he is being 
investigated over "planning an act of terrorism”.

In November 
Israeli authorities closed down several institutions in East Jerusalem, 
claiming that they are funded and belong to the Ramallah-based 
Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority claims East Jerusalem as the future capital of 
a Palestinian state, but this hope had been dashed by US President 
Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and 
Israel's plan to annex the West Bank.

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