[News] Israel storms two Palestinian cultural centres in East Jerusalem
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”.
Israeli authorities closed down several institutions in East Jerusalem,
claiming that they are funded and belong to the Ramallah-based
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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