JERUSALEM (JTA) — Juliano Mer-Khamis, a well-known Israeli-Arab actor, was shot dead by masked Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank city of Jenin.
Mer-Khamis, whose mother was an Israeli-Jewish activist for Palestinian rights and father was a Christian Palestinian, was killed Monday after being shot five times while driving in his car, according to reports. Jenin Police Chief Mohammed Tayyim told the Haaretz newspaper that Israeli security forces were still investigating the circumstances of the murder.
Mer-Khamis, 53, reportedly had received death threats after establishing the Freedom Theater in a Jenin refugee camp. The theater, a popular cultural center in the camp, has been the target of several firebomb attacks since its establishment five years ago, Ynet reported.
He had been called a "fifth column" in a pamphlet distributed in the refugee camp in 2009, according to Ynet.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned the killing and vowed to find the gunmen.
"We must not ignore this heinous crime," he said, calling the murder "a gross violation of humane values and against the morals of our people."
Mer-Khamis was well known for his film and theater roles in Israel and abroad. He was born and raised in Nazareth.