Jan 17 2018


by Elsie Dusting

Palestinian artist MOHAMMEDHABSHEYOSSEF was arrested on January 9 by Israeli authorities and was released a week later. His arrest is part of a larger string of crackdowns on grassroots Palestinian resistance by the Israeli government, following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Image via the artist’s Facebook.

On January 9, Israeli authorities arrested Mohammed “Habshe” Yossef, taking the Palestinian artist from his apartment in Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp, where he lives with his partner and three children, in a pre-dawn operation involving over 50 soldiers. Habshe is a key member of the art and activist collective MTL+ and the residency program Decolonize This Place, which promotes Palestinian freedom and is aligned with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Habshe was later released after nearly a week of detainment and interrogation. An Israeli military court dismissed the charge of “incitement on social media” leveled against him. His arrest is part of a larger string of crackdowns by the Israeli government, who are capturing key members of important committees to eradicate grassroots Palestinian resistance, following United States President Donald J. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In mid-December, 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, a community organizer in the village of Nabi Saleh, was arrested for slapping an Israel Defense Forces soldier. Munther Amira, another prominent activist from Aida, was also arrested. The two are involved with the Aida Youth Center, which operates as a site of cultural resistance and artistic production, and where Habshe has been in charge of cultural programming for the last ten years. In 2012, for example, Habshe organized the move of the Center’s large-scale sculpture The Key of Return (2008) for presentation at the 7th Berlin Biennial. 

On January 7, the Israeli government issued a list of 20 BDS-friendly organizations whose members will be barred from entering the country. 

Elsie Dusting is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific. 

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