Dozens Gather in Haifa to Pay Tribute to Murdered Israeli Actor Juliano Mer-Khamis

Palestinian protesters in Ramallah call on Abbas to bring perpetrators to justice, a promise he made following the murder last year of the Israeli actor, director and activist.

Dozens of artists, actors and theater professionals held a memorial event on Wednesday to mark one year since the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis. At the memorial, held at the Al-Midan Theater in Haifa, were artistic performances that included excerpts from Mer-Khamis' works and part of a screenplay that he wrote before his death.

On April 4 last year, the well-known Israeli actor, director and political activist was gunned down in the West Bank town of Jenin, where he ran a drama school and community theater. Mer-Khamis was killed in his car just meters from The Freedom Theater that he had founded.

Juliano Mer-Khamis March 29, 2006.
Daniel Tchetchik

On Wednesday, a group of children from Jenin - who take part in The Freedom Theater's activities – were invited to the event in Haifa, but were unable to attend. According to the event's organizers, the children were denied entry into Israel by the Israel Defense Forces and security establishment.

Today, one year after Mer-Khamis' murder, the case has not yet been solved. Abir Bakar, the attorney who has been representing and accompanying Mer-Khamis' family for the past year, told Haaretz on Wednesday that in recent meetings with police, he understood that, at this stage, there is no progress in investigations, but that according to Israeli investigators, Palestinian police are cooperating. Evidence that has been collected thus far is insufficient to lay the ground for arrests. "We know that the means are in Israel's hands and the intelligence is in the hands of the Palestinian Authority's security establishment, and therefore, without cooperation it is impossible to uncover the truth," said Bakar.

Wednesday afternoon, dozens of Palestinian artists and actors protested outside the Mukataa in Ramallah, calling for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to fulfill on the promise he made immediately following Mer-Khamis' murder, that he would bring the perpetrators to justice.

Artistic Director and Drama Instructor Nabeel Al-Raee, who replaced Mer-Khamis in the management of the theater in Jenin, told Haaretz on Wednesday that the murderer or murderers may have succeeded in killing the man, but not the mission, and that the theater is continuing to operate. However, he added, "That wound cannot be left to bleed forever, and we believe that the Palestinian Authority and security establishment could do more in order to arrest the suspects."

A few suspects were arrested immediately after Mer-Khamis' murder, but were later released after no evidence was found linking them to the act.