On the edge of the camp is a youth theater run by Ahmed Tobasi. “Art resists our idea,” he says. “We don’t want to express our ideas and feelings with weapons, but on stage.” But the history of the theater, like everything else in the camp, is intertwined with the armed struggle against Israel. In the past, several participants in the youth drama eventually took up arms and were killed by Israeli soldiers.
Also this month the guns sound a lot louder than the actors ’voices. Last week, a resident of the Jenin refugee camp killed three Israeli civilians in an attack in Tel Aviv. Another Palestinian near Jenin killed five people in a terrorist attack near Tel Aviv.
The attacks sparked a series of major attacks on the West Bank for Israel, with Jenin at the top of the list. The goal, according to Israel, was to arrest terrorism suspects. Dozens of Palestinians have been arrested.
There were also deaths. In all, more than 20 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army since March. Some were involved in attacks or shootings with soldiers, but both an unarmed woman and a lawyer were killed. According to the AP news agency, there are 12 Palestinians in and around Jenin alone.
‘Violent response to raids’
One of them is 17-year-old Mohammed Zakarneh. According to Israel, he shot at Israeli soldiers, his family is fighting against it. In front of the childhood home hangs a large poster with his image. Friends come to express their condolences to Zakarneh’s father.
“Mohammed’s death is something that could have happened to all of us,” said one Palestinian young man. According to him, Israel is ultimately to blame for the violence, even if it is committed by Palestinians: “It is a reaction to the attacks here. There are victims every day, and we are further oppressed. Inevitably.”
Due to the terrorist attacks, the Israeli government has decided to severely restrict traffic between Israel and Jenin. As a result, some Palestinians have been unable to go to work in Israel, where wages are higher. On the other hand, Israelis of Palestinian origin could not go to Jenin for cheap shopping. So this week was a lot quieter than usual.
Call to calm down
It is quiet in the theater as well, because of Ramadan, but also because of the violence that flared up. Increased tensions make it harder to seduce young people on stage, according to theater director Tobasi: “The more young people here kill Israel, the more people want to strike back. And there is less interest in theater and culture.”
It is difficult to predict how long the new wave of violence will last. There are fears of further escalation as major Muslim, Jewish and Christian holidays merge this week. The United States and the European Union, among others, call on Israelis and Palestinians to show restraint and calm.