Political activist, producer and actor Juliano Mer Khamis, 52, was shot to death Monday in front of the Freedom Theater in Jenin, an Arab-populated city in Samaria, not far from the Lower Galilee city of Afula. The actor was murdered by an unidentified, masked assailant who shot him five times at close range, according to Palestinian Authority security officials.
The actor was rushed to Jenin Hospital but succumbed to his wounds. His body was taken to a nearby checkpoint by PA officials and transferred to the IDF for examination at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute.
Mer Khamis had in the past been targeted by death threats due to his work in theater in Jenin. Criticism especially was centered on theater activities that brought boys and girls together, in defiance of Islamic moral codes. Special outrage came when Mer Khamis chose to stage the play “Animal Farm,” which includes a character that is a pig – an animal which in Islam is considered impure.
Mer Khamis' mother, Arna Mer, was Jewish, although married to Saliba Khamis, a Christian Arab member of Israel's Communist party. Also a pro-PA political activist, the actor's mother had established the beginnings of the Freedom Theater as a children's group in the 1980s. Mer Khamis later officially opened the theater together with former Fatah terror chief Zakariya Zubaidi in 2006.
The theater was firebombed in 2009 shortly after Mer Khamis received death threats in flyers distributed throughout Jenin.