Hamas suspect held in West Bank actor killing: Palestinians

Tue Apr 5, 2011 12:33pm EDT
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By Mohammed Assadi

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - A top Palestinian security official said police had arrested a member of the Islamist Hamas group over the assassination of award-winning Arab-Israeli actor and director, Juliano Mer Khamis.

"One of those arrested is a prime suspect in the killing, he belongs to Hamas and is being interrogated," the official, who declined to be named, said on Tuesday,

Jenin governor Qaddoura Moussa also declined to reveal details about the suspect in Monday's killing of Mer Khamis, 52, who was shot dead by a masked gunman, but he added that a number of other suspects had been held and were later released.

Western powers, including the United States and European Union view Hamas as a terrorist organization. It took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 in a brief war with security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"The security forces have arrested a number of people, there is an ongoing investigation," Moussa told Reuters.

Mer Khamis, the son of a Jewish mother and Christian Arab father, ran the Freedom Theater in Jenin's refugee camp in the northern West Bank for several years. He was driving his car near the theater with his infant son and a babysitter when the gunman ordered him to pull over and shot him.

Palestinians in the Jenin area and in the West Bank seat of government in Ramallah held memorial vigils for Mer Khamis.

"This is a sad day for the Palestinian people, you cannot find anyone here who is not against the killing except for the killer," said Qasem Ahmad from Jenin refugee camp.   Continued...