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May 19, 2021

West Bank Arts Center Dar Jacir Ransacked

 

Bethlehem’s Dar Yusuf Nasri Jacir for Art and Research.

BETHLEHEM, PALESTINE—The Dar Yusuf Nasri Jacir for Art and Research sustained extensive damage at the hands of Israeli occupation forces, according to a statement issued by the organization. Staff at the Bethlehem arts center said forces raided the structure this past Saturday, ransacking offices and making off with equipment including phones, computers, hard drives, and cameras. Earlier the preceding week, staff said, Dar Jacir’s urban garden was destroyed as fires were set around the building, forcing the evacuation of resident artists there. Several nearby structures were said to be destroyed as well. A photograph provided by the arts center showed blackened earth where the garden had previously stood.

Dar Jacir was founded in 2014 by Golden Lion–winning Palestinian photographer and filmmaker Emily Jacir in a nineteenth-century stone structure that was once home to her grandparents. The building, at the edge of the city, is situated at the entrance to El Khalil Road linking the West Bank city of Hebron to Jerusalem, and is only about six hundred feet from a portion of the Israeli Separation Wall protecting the Jewish holy site of Rachel’s Tomb. Dar Jacir typically offers educational, cultural, agricultural, and film programming, and hosts artist residencies, recently welcoming British writer Isabella Hammad, Chilean American composer Nicolas Jaar, and Cuban American artist Coco Fusco.

The alleged raid came as tensions between Palestine and Israel have flared over the past two weeks after Israeli forces on May 7 attempted to evict Palestinians from East Jerusalem, where they have long held residence, and on May 10 raided Al Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Since then, according to the New York Times, 212 Palestinians have died in Gaza Strip air raids conducted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), who days ago destroyed a building housing the offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press; ten Israelis have died in Hamas missile strikes.

Artforum has reached out to the IDF and to Dar Jacir for comment.

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